One of the best things about our job as physiotherapists are the people we meet and the stories they tell. They challenge us with their challenges – from ankle sprains, post-operative ACL repairs, muscle strains, or back pain – as they all have their own unique goals to achieve which motivate them to get themselves well and strong again.
Sometimes, a patient will come along who inspires us just a little bit more to be better than we are, both in and outside the clinic. One such patient who recently gave me a new source of inspiration was Sandra Davies.
Sandra had found about our clinic from an article in the Vancouver Sun. She came into the clinic with the article in hand, a photograph of herself, her running journal, and right hip pain. She explained to me that she desperately needed my help to keep her running, as there was no way that she was going to skip out of the 2014 Vancouver Sun Run or the BMO half-marathon.
As we do in an initial assessment, we spend a lot of time listening to our patients to hear their story. Our purpose of the subjective history is to get to know as much as we can about the person from a health perspective to understand why they might be having their pain and to determine their goals for the future with respect to their injury.
Sandra’s history was unlike most of the runners who come to see me. To begin with, she is 74 years old and didn’t seriously take up running until after experiencing a “small heart attack” at age 60. The year was 1999. Her doctors told her that she needed to quit smoking cigarettes and to quit drinking chardonnay. So she did. After a stint at the VGH Healthy Heart program, she replaced her cigarette and chardonnay habits with running and gradually became hooked.
While she had previously run her first ever Vancouver Sun Run in 1996, she was still smoking at that time and it wasn’t until much later that she really felt the runners high. In 2012, while undergoing radiation for breast cancer, Sandra ran again in the Vancouver Sun Run and started realizing that she was quite a strong runner as she began winning medals in her age group. The winning of medals pushed her to run more and more and now, since 2006, Sandra has won 42 medals, including four from 2014 alone! Last year she ran two half-marathons, three 8km races, five 10km races, and two 5km races! Sandra told me that her goal is to continue as long as she physically can, running one race per month. She turns 75 next month and will be running the Canada Day Run up at UBC.
As for her hip, well, she now rates her pain as a 1 or 2/10, sometimes more, sometimes less, and she keeps track of it in her running journal with smiley face stickers after her pain free runs. Thank you, Sandra, for being an amazing inspiration to me. Every time I see you, with your latest medal around your neck and hear the determination in your voice to keep on running, it reminds me that there is nothing we can’t strive to do in life. We just have to get out there and do it.