Saturday, May 26, 2007

A single year

Exactly a year ago I was at the brink of something new - teaching for the first time in my 55 years. This represented a long and not altogether confident step into new territory. I survived to teach again several months later, an event made much less worrisome by virtue of the fact I now had "experience". In a few short weeks I'll be teaching again, this time for real, with paying students and an actual manual in an actual binder, complete with pictures and diagrams, not just a sheaf of typed papers stapled together. There will be a power point presentation involved, and cont.ed. credits, certificates, and snacks. The workshop will be spread over two days instead of crammed into one.

There is more that has happened in the span of a year, much more.

A few years ago while attending a large Sahrmann workshop I recognized and reconnected with an old classmate, Angie, from first year PT school, someone I hadn't seen since first year, because she dropped out for a year and went back in later. There she was, looking exactly like the Angie from first year 40 years ago. We went for lunch, and to make a long story short, I made sure she was on the invite list for the class reunion in the fall of this past year. There have been several of these, but it would be her first, and my second.

This reunion was held in Whistler B.C, a three-day weekend. Not all of the class of twenty originals made it; we've lost one member to pancreatic cancer, and a few others couldn't arrange their schedules to suit our time frame. But a great time was had by the dozen or so who did make it - the condo was a comfortable, spacious 5-bedroom, 2-hot tub, 500 thread-count-sheet excellent deal, food was great, the wine flowed, we sang old songs, the conversation bubbled continuously. We were all ten years older than we'd been at our last reunion; there were deeper lines in faces, greyer hair, a softer edge somehow. Both tears and laughter came from deeper places, and more easily it seemed. Somehow everyone seems to be getting more real. Conversations were more about husbands, hip replacements, having fought breast cancer, less about children and who was living where and who was doing what - in fact many have since retired to enjoy grandchildren.

Angie hasn't though. She went on to get a PhD in research design, and is now the busy director of an entire PT program at U. of S. We found ourselves discussing the state of physiotherapy many times during the course of the weekend, and in the end, she invited me to do a research project together with her. I won't go into all the details about this, but will just say that it has been carefully set up, will be scientifically acceptable, has been approved by an ethics committee and all the rest of the hoops something like this must pass, and will test the effectiveness of a completely nervous system based approach to manual therapy.

As if that weren't enough excitement for one year, in April I was able to complete the anatomy study described in an earlier blog. Angie is helping me prepare a good-length article on this for publication. She makes me write in a scholarly and neutral style, the way it must present for a journal contribution, not excitedly and opinionated, how I really feel.

Angie and I made plans at the reunion to get together again, this spring, to "think tank" together. The idea of retreating to a remote cabin for ten days armed with laptops and several bags of groceries was scaled down to her arriving a few days before the World Congress of Physiotherapy is due to begin, and stay at my place to continue the ongoing conversation about how best to improve our already pretty good profession, but which we have noticed has had some serious drift over the last few decades. I think we'll just go to the Drive and eat out.