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Is that why you hold your arm that way?

Fearless

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xc-raceRunning is an activity that I always enjoyed… but going outside meant exposure to individuals who are not quite tolerant or accepting. The title is a loaded question born out of genuine curiosity for something that I generally do not think about, especially with the friends and family members that I have known all my life. As my first blog post, I want to keep this short, succinct, and focused on an introduction to myself on what truly matters most.

At the core, what I want for myself and everyone within my sphere of influence is the ability to do exactly what we want when we want and fulfill our wildest dreams. I know it is an optimistic view that has yet to be clashed with the practicalities of the real world. Most importantly, fitness is a key element of what I want to do and how to influence others in a practical manner. I do not need people to become cardio bunnies or pump iron but I would greatly appreciate the change in mindset as I take small steps towards addressing the major healthcare issues currently affecting my neighborhood.

As a side note, I would love to discuss the culture of disability (and being different) from a mature standpoint that is not bitter. I know this is a touchy topic and perhaps I will post a video about it on YouTube.

Entrepreneurship in Healthcare

Alamo

Hello readers!

Thank you so much for following me and enjoying my content! Just to preface, this is a shorter blog post but… this is a much needed one to SET the TONE that has been long overdue within a profession experiencing an identity crisis in the face of the healthcare climate. I am… “going there” but I swear I am feeling humbled and thinking much clearer in real life. Cheers!

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Entrepreneurship?

Here lies the opportunity to be truly free from finances and time AND develop the ability to sustain it while continuing to grow. Here is a chance to truly do what you have been meaning to do AND be rewarded for fulfilling your purpose WHILE maintaining integrity and NOT shooting down others in the “rat race”. Yes… FORTUNATELY, healthcare IS a business and it is time that the right people are in the profession to address the NEEDS of the PATIENT, NOT the PAYOR. If you are going to meet crazy “productivity standards” to “line someone’s pockets”, then make sure those are YOUR pockets. What we do as healthcare professionals, especially Physical Therapists, is HIGHLY valuable. Here is the opportunity for our self-worth as a profession to NOT be determined by $$$ but rather by the GRATITUDE from the lives of the people who we want to impact.

What does this mean to me?

For me, I finally have a fair shot at the privilege of escaping an environment filled with toxicity… once and for all… and be able to leverage my story in order to help others achieve that for themselves. I can be myself wholly, fully, unequivocally, unapologetically WITHOUT any masks or facades AND be rewarded for this painstaking behavior.

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Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy the Belive.tv interview that I am doing (or did depending on when you read this) with Paul Gough, one of THE legends in the field of Physical Therapy, especially amongst private practice owners.

Last, but not least, level up!

Heal any moment! How a job in a great community shaped my healthcare professional views

Mercy-Wars

Sharing a short Tumblr re-post (and caption) about how excited I was to have a fulfilling job. What is most exciting is that I am on the brink of entering the Physical Therapy profession and embarking on my career journey. I will explain more during this week’s vlog. Cheers!


I am blessed to have a full-time job with benefits and a retirement plan. Who knew a Skilled Nursing Facility could be so awesome? Yet Mercy Retirement & Care Center is heaven on earth, caring for priests, sisters, and brothers. How ironic that within 3 months, I went from unemployed to highly valued job material, providing help at Salem Lutheran Home (which was sold to another company). Despite upper-management not recognizing me, I have earned the respect of the entire staff. All the staff members and patients are extremely friendly. I have never been so excited to go to work. I hope my career workplace as a Doctor of Physical Therapy will be just as excellent.


Compare that to what I shared afterwards regarding the photo above…

I hope I have the opportunity to work with an awesome Rehab Team in the near future. Can’t say enough about how lucky I was to work at a healthcare facility with great staff (especially CNAs, housekeeping, life enrichment, maintenance, and the culinary team), great management, and, most of all, great residents. #TBT

Edit: Can’t forget the cute mascot, a small white shih tzu dog who I would end up chasing around the building. Never knew the job responsibilities included walking the dog.

Lead without a title; lead with your heart

Matt-the-leader

It was just another day. Just another afternoon high school Cross Country practice …except this time during my senior year under a new coach. I trotted off to the bathroom after a warm-up jog and was shocked to hear the news upon my return. I was not named one of the team captains.

I asked my teammates what happened. I didn’t know how to react. Was it because I went off to the bathroom? No? What was it? Why were the junior guys named team captains? Not me? After being loyal and running day in, day out for all of my high school days? The one thing I wanted, especially after earning the recognition of most improved runner? Why?

The thing is… no one necessarily felt comfortable with the decision but we all wanted to respect our new coach’s decision-making. That’s what our former coach would have expected of us. We were a team that had grown together and we would respect the new leadership.

What did I think? Well… I knew that with the academic burden through challenging times and not putting in enough miles… I wasn’t cut out for varsity. I knew that the new coach was taking things in a different direction and I was willing to listen because of how much I loved being part of the team. I loved being part of something after growing up… different, which is a pretty big deal as a young boy who never participated in any type of organized sports before. I loved growing up with my teammates since my freshman year and enjoying the journey. Like I mentioned before, I was once the most improved runner and the one thing that I wanted afterwards was to be team captain. Coming from down… I wanted to be a leader but it would have been to cherish the values that held the team together, grew the team together, and push the limits… not my ego.

I had every reason to be angry and yet I chose not to be because I knew that was not a reflection of myself… that was not in my character. That was not what my former coach would have wanted. That was not part of the values instilled in this team.

I remember that night. I remember how I felt so distracted and how I reached out to teammates via Myspace or Facebook. I found comfort in how they believed in me regardless of title. I found comfort in how they reached out to my former coach and how he did not agree with the decision… how he would have named me a captain. He believed in me. My teammates believed in me.

I’ll repeat that last statement. They believed in me. That’s why I found comfort in continuing to serve within my role as a teammate and lead without a title. I could act with dignity, not bitterness, and respect the wishes of the captains because they respected me as a veteran who had been through thick and thin with this team since freshman year. Our parents all knew and heard what happened… and how dismayed I looked, though I mustered up the best that I could to continue to enjoy the sport and the team. It hurt not being able to share that genuine smile I once had.

One thing that surprised me and that I could not express enough gratitude for at the time was how the team pulled through for me during my senior awards night, the last opportunity for any moment of recognition. They (teammates and parents) pulled my former coach out of retirement and from another state to come down specifically for me. Coach Brian was a father figure to me. He instilled the values in me that you see today of doing things with intention and with heart. He was instrumental in challenging me while allowing me to enjoy myself and earn the camaraderie of my teammates. He was influential and played a major role in the happiest times of my life… practices in the Oakland hills, carbo loading team gatherings, Halloween parties, summer running camp.

Coach Brian came down specifically for my time in the spotlight to thank me for everything that I did, share the stories of way back when I would watch my older brother during meets, and award me something… a varsity letter EVEN THOUGH I was only on junior varsity because of what I had symbolized for the team. I was ashamed at the time because I knew I did not deserve this award in the traditional manner. I earned it because it was the last chance for the team to thank me with something I never had. It was the last chance to offer me something when I could not have the title of team captain.

In conclusion, this message is for you. When you have a belief system and values that are stronger than steel, you are capable of anything! You will be recognized and awarded eventually! Believe in yourself, not because of your ego but because of your values! People will notice! People will definitely notice and reward you when you least expect anything! You can bend the rules, defy odds, and shatter expectations! All this while the naysayers who do not know the real you shrug you off as “just a kid” or “just a student” or “just a new grad”.

Others will attempt to advise, “Prove them wrong!”

I am here to remind you of a long-forgotten truth…

You don’t have to prove shit! Be you!

Back pain? Neck pain? Rib pain? The Institute of Clinical Excellence Experience with the Total Spine Manipulation Course

Total-Spine

If PTs are “hammers”, then we definitely “nailed” the whole spine this past weekend with the Institute of Clinical Excellence (pun intended)! Dr. Justin Dunaway and Morgan Denny had this cool “mom and pop” vibe as a couple (yes, husband and wife) teaching a young, hungry group of up-and-coming clinicians and students like myself in the Fyzical Therapy & Balance Center in Summerlin (Las Vegas area). Before diving in, one of the unique philanthropic missions that Justin and Morgan are deeply involved in is STAND: the Haiti Project, which provides people living in Haiti with access to great clinicians, including Physical Therapists and Orthotists. For more information, check out the website linked above and be on the lookout for an upcoming episode of the Capable Body Podcast where we will discuss more on this topic (here is the Capable Body Community Facebook group for more updates where I will post the episode links once released). It’s inspiring and lovely hearing the stories of how people have been impacted by STAND. Justin and Morgan brought the same energy and hope into the clinic.

Back on course! After hearing from RJ Williams about another ICE offering in Vegas, I immediately signed up. I enjoyed having the opportunity to “get the reps in” with my classmate. In addition, the group was overall friendly and fostered a nice learning environment. It was humbling to be learning alongside someone who guest lectured at my school! I truly appreciated the constructive criticism and useful feedback from real PTs. It helped me feel much more comfortable and less “bitey” during palpation of the cervical spine. The experience certainly made me more anxious in anticipation of my graduation date next year in June 2018 from Touro University Nevada (TUN). I enjoyed reconnecting with TUN alumni and hearing more about their stories after graduating.

Total-Spine-TUN

Having previously taken the Institute of Clinical Excellence’s Cervical Spine Manipulation Course with Dr. Jeff Moore at the same location, I felt more comfortable interacting with the group, deliberately practicing how to fine-tune my setups as a novice, and, most of all, having fun. I probably got my money’s worth alone from being the patient and feeling the solid technique of various manipulations, especially from Dr. Justin Dunaway himself. The most fun and humbling experience is the Round Robin, which is a nice free-for-all anything goes intense bout of practicing where “patients” lie down while “PTs” rotate around the different tables to perform the various techniques we just learned. The music in the background was definitely a plus!

Overall, I enjoyed this course! Perhaps I was biased having asked around for feedback from previous ICE students but… they were right! The focus of this particular course was on techniques, though we did cover interesting topics.

How a “kid’s show” helped me grow up

Aang

Avatar the Last Airbender is and always will be my favorite show of all time. It was an animated cartoon series on Nickolodeon starring Aang, the last individual who could not only “bend” air but master all four elements (water, earth, fire, air). I know I am biased because I grew up watching this “kid’s cartoon show”. However, at that time, with all the invaluable life lessons, it was exactly what I needed. The Avatar series was more than mere entertainment. It was a deep representation of Asian culture that was cool… yet mature. It portrayed movement and martial arts in a colorful way. On top of that, the storyline and character development was intriguing along with the action scenes mixed in.

What moved me with the Avatar series was how deeply it spoke to me. Feeling under pressure to learn yet trying to find balance was something I felt as a Filipino-American student growing up. As a boy facing difficult challenges, struggling to find peace of mind spiritually was something I felt. Another relatable element was enjoying nature and life, especially the aquariums and trail hikes in the San Francisco Bay Area.

A nice added bonus for me was listening to the voice of Filipino-American Dante Basco play Zuko, the exiled prince of the firebenders who had one of the most interesting character development arcs of all time. You may have recognized Dante Basco as Rufio from Hook, the Peter Pan story starring Robin Williams. Although I can say many more things about Avatar, I am going to keep this post short and finish off with videos that I hope you enjoy.

Here is the moving scene with Uncle Iroh & Zuko demonstrating real maturity and how to avoid getting caught up in emotions of anger, especially as a firebender:

Here is my personal favorite Avatar the Last Airbender AMV:

Last, but not least, as a dedicated fan, here is my Legend of Korra AMV:

 

Fruit flies? Research?

single-fruit-fly-drosophila-melanogaster-on-white-background-cropped

Drosophila melanogaster… aka fruit flies. I am going into science nerd mode briefly here to talk about… hox genes. Of course, you can check Wikipedia (see below). One of the miracles of life is how we all start from a single cell. When looking at different animal and insect models for research, it is impressive how alike we are in our embryonic development and the pattern formation. Hox genes assist in laying out the body plan.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hox_gene

Alrighty. So what about working in a lab filled with fruit flies? How did that research experience influence me personally and professionally? Here was an opportunity for me to put my money where my mouth was and demonstrate my hard work ethic. Here was an opportunity for leadership. Ironically, the means of me finding out about the position was through my student leadership experiences and networking. Technically, even a middle-school aged student could do what I did. However, what was most important was repetition and understanding the value of seeing things through. I fortunately had this type of experience through distance running in high school on the Cross Country and Track & Field teams.

The overarching plan and experiments were pretty neat, though the activities necessary were mundane. What I appreciated was the ability to understand exactly what needed to be done and simply act upon that. For example, I would use a microscope to check if the fly was male or female. Or I would prepare a “food cook” batch following the recipe. Or I would carefully add 10 female flies to a specific box. Or I would clean equipment.

I enjoyed being able to listen to music or chat with peers during this time. In fact, one of these conversations about bucket lists was what spurred me to run a marathon. Most of all, I appreciated the lab manager recognizing my abilities.

I did not personally see much in myself. When recruiting lab leaders for the following year, he told me, “We need talent.”

Fast forwarding to my final quarter ever during my senior year, I was left in charge of the lab on the weekends, equipped with the lab key and my lab manager’s cell phone number should any problems arise. Out of everyone, he entrusted me to oversee the team and his experiments while he cared for his family, especially his newborn daughter. To my surprise, by doing my thing and not being too bossy, the weekend team ended up being more productive than the weekday team. Needless to say, the lab manager expressed extreme gratitude at the opportunity to write a letter of recommendation for me.

Below is a video where I explained a bit more about how much my lab manager played a major role as my mentor during the admissions process for Physical Therapy school. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve grown a lot since this was aired on Facebook live so we shall see if Berg and I follow up with another video in the future!

Building a following by playing videogames for charity

Trihex

Fair warning… this is another one of my posts where I get to geek out. The one I did before was about how movement is an art. If anything, I hope people will at least have a slight bit more compassion for videogame communities and treating people like people (who have different hobbies), which is a value I treasure as someone who grew up feeling different. So… let’s start off with the photo above of me with Trihex (the dude who is the “TriHard” Twitch emote and speedruns Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island as seen in the video below). He is an awesome person whom I had the pleasure of meeting in Las Vegas at the Evo fighting videogame tournament in 2015 (aside from seeing him at the SGDQ 2014 speedrunning charity event). Trihex has quite the following on the Twitch livestreaming site for videogamers (currently part of Amazon) and has been doing it for quite a while. He had great advice for me as a fellow speedrunner that is highly applicable to anything in life simply because we are human. Basically, he told me that I should focus on what I am passionate about. Don’t worry about the number of followers or viewers. Do what you enjoy. If you do that, then you are willing to keep up a fun hobby even when working a job, going through school, and facing some rough times. Don’t worry about what’s popular. You do you. I wholeheartedly appreciated this advice as someone literally just starting DPT school. Boy… was that a grueling first year of studying pretty much all the time (perhaps a topic for another blog post).

Leading into another speedrunning story that is more relevant to what I am learning as a Physical Therapy student… Runnerguy2489 who speedruns The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (OoT)… when he is not working as a civil engineer. As a generous gentleman, he helped out a blind individual by going through the hassle of mapping out how to play Zelda OoT blindfolded, which you can check out in the playlist starting with the video down below. I thought it was a great idea for improving accessibility and being able to share with others the experience of playing a 3D Zelda game. Runnerguy is a really great person and I was thrilled when he hopped onto my Twitch stream a few years ago to say hi and that as a fellow runner, he understood the meaning of my username “26pt2” (hint: the number of miles in a marathon race).

So how did I know about Trihex and Runnerguy2489? Although we met virtually through Twitch and then in person at SGDQ or Evo, I first started seeing them on YouTube when replays of AGDQ/SGDQ were uploaded and showing up in my feed. So what is AGDQ (Awesome Games Done Quick) or SGDQ (Summer Games Done Quick)? Both are charity events run by SDA (Speed Demos Archive), in which AGDQ typically is hosted live in the East Coast during the winter and SGDQ is hosted in the Southwest during the summer. More information can be found at the website here: https://gamesdonequick.com/. The whole crew is extremely professional and the events are well-organized. I had a blast being at the event and meeting people. Below is a video of my appearance as a commentator during SGDQ 2014. Now, mind you, this was an exciting time as one of two the Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures speedrunners because it is a grueling, long process to apply as a speedrunner for SDGQ (and even moreso for AGDQ). SGDQ has been known to be more accepting during the scheduling for more… obscure games. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures is definitely one of the blacksheep of the whole Zelda series but you can find out more as Zmaster discusses during the run in 2014. However, I would highly recommend watching the updated run at SGDQ 2016 with the route changes by playing the Japanese version and being able to perform cool tricks that skip major portions of individual levels. Overall, the experience of being live in person was nerve-wracking because of how many people were viewing. I was getting Facebook wall posts from college friends and Twitch inbox messages. The awesome part was how meeting face-to-face with popular Twitch streamers was not a surprise because they were exactly how they acted on their streams.

And here was my fastest speedrun of the Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (I know… not even close, though I tried)

Lastly, below is my treasured “Palace of the Four Sword” run from the remake The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past & Four Swords (Gameboy Advance). When I glanced through the SDA (Speed Demos Archive) forums for speedrun requests, I noticed an interesting one about doing an all-in-one go for the extra bonus dungeon in the GBA (Gameboy Advance) remake of aLttP (a Link to the Past). When I kept searching on YouTube and Twitch, nothing popped up. As far as I knew, no one else tried. So… what did I do? Innovate and figure it out. This was just a hobby during my free time while taking PT school pre-requesites, doing the GRE, and getting more PT setting observation hours. I spent quite a while learning from the original Japanese 1.0 aLttP speedrunners to figure out the routes, the techniques, the tricks, and how to navigate out-of-bounds (a necessary feat to complete this run without having to play the multiplayer Four Swords game). On an ending note, the coolest thing about communities like distance runners and videogamers is that they are very accessible and willing to share. In my video below, I shared my notes in the hopes that someone would take up the challenge and offer me some competition. I know this was seemingly way off topic for one of my blog posts but I hope you enjoy “me being me” as someone who grew up with hadoukens and 1up mushrooms. I hope that one day in the future, I get to partake in a videogame charity event for a cause related to my career. Maybe I will host the event? Volunteer to read off donations? Do one of the speedruns? Who knows? Throwing a wild idea out there… would I consider opening up a clinic that is geared towards gamers, especially esports atheletes? Or help someone else achieve that goal? As a fellow gamer and a soon-to-be Physical Therapist (as opposed to someone who does not understand the culture and thinks it might be… nice)? Who knows? Until next time, have a good one!