Making the best of what you got: growing up with rehab


Pediatric Rehab. Therapy with kids. As someone who was born with ROBPI (right obstetric brachial plexus injury), which is a tear within the bundle of nerves by the shoulder blade and collar bone, I spent my first days of life in a hospital, not a home. Today, part of me wants to push my career path full-circle back into the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) but we shall see. The purpose of this blog post is to shed a very brief glimpse of my patient experience (to be elaborated in a future blog post series).

First and foremost, I do not remember everything but what has “stuck” is important. I would do everything asked of me because I was a good kid. Yet the challenge for the therapists (Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy) was that I was smart and high-functioning, meaning that I could do just about everything they wanted me to do… and continued to be stubborn about how I wanted to do things.

Putting everything in context, I was the youngest of three kids and my mom decided to switch over to night shift so we could all go to school on time. Where I went to rehab was in Oakland. If not Children’s Hospital Oakland (CHO), then it was a school-based clinic. Either way, my mom would have to drive me at least half an hour both ways. The only thing I can really remember about CHO was the gift shop. Therapy was just something I did so I could play with the toys downstairs after an elevator trip and maybe get that stringed lion or giraffe push button toy. Somehow those managed to nab my attention.

It’s probably better that I grew up in that 90’s era rather than nowadays with kids playing on iPads. They have no idea what the dark ages were like before wireless Internet! By the same token, I gained so much appreciation for that value of what we had, especially the SNES with Zelda, Mario, Street Fighter, and Super Buster Bros. Those were good times when I could play with my older brother if we weren’t messing around with Legos. Or if I didn’t want to dance to New Kids on the Block or “Under the Sea”. As you can see, there was definitely a dichotomy between the clinic and my home/school. Nothing was really explained to me even though I knew my letters, numbers, and colors. Shout outs to growing up on the street… Sesame Street!


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