An unforgetable heartwarming experience at São Miguel

Hello fellow OT students,

My name is Ana Gaspar and I am currently waiting to start my fourth and last year as an occupational therapy student in Escola Superior de Saúde de Leiria, Portugal. The past three years of my studies have been quite a ride, let me break it down for you!

When I first discovered that I got in OT school, I had mixed feelings because it was not my first choice. I had always wanted to be a nurse mainly because my goal as a professional is to help people in need, but little did I know! When I got to learn more thoroughly about what OT is all about, I fell instantly in love with the profession and the thought of changing courses suddenly didn’t matter to me anymore.

I have experienced so many incredible things so far that I find it really hard to talk about only one. But I think that what I am about to narrate to you clearly takes the cake. Before I do, I would love to show you São Miguel, the place where I got to spend 6 weeks for my internship, which is one of the nine volcanic islands that compose the archipelago Azores! Needless to say, I loved that place, I was and still am so inspired by the beautiful view you can get just by walking around and by how nature can be so calming and reassuring.

Now back to the original story, on my second year I was excited to finally go on Fieldwork II because it was where we would start to practice our interventions with the patients that were designated to us. Me and my classmates were trying to figure out where we were assigned for our fieldwork and it was then that I realized that I got in a Physical Rehabilitation site (my favorite) but… on a Portuguese island called São Miguel. I was going to be there alone for six weeks which, alone, was a lot to process. Being away from my friends and family for so long and on a place that I have never been to seemed like a very big deal back then. Luckily I managed to stay at a friend’s house in Azores and his family became mine for that period of time!

Once I was there, I was assigned patients, one of which was practically my age and had been involved in a car accident. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and he had been in a induced coma for over a month. That alone got me. I thought that this could have been me. Despite being overwhelmed with negative feelings I got to know him better. He told me he was a personal trainer but after the accident he couldn’t even tie his shoelaces, let alone dress himself without any help or even eat using a fork and a knife. Nevertheless his will to recover was tremendous that very often he would ask if he could come to OT every day. I had to explain to him that he also needed to rest so he could recharge and give 100% of his strength to the following treatments.

The thing with him being a former personal trainer was that he wanted to teach me everything he knew about physiology and biomechanics and also to learn the purpose of all the exercises that I suggested. It is always great to remember that you can learn something through connecting with a person being treated by you.

Two sessions later after we first met, he came into the OT room so happy because he was finally able to tie his shoelaces! And after that, he got to use a fork and knife to eat, and then he was able to dress a shirt all by himself! It was him conquering those milestones that got me so excited to push him a little bit further every session so he could return to his home and live his life as a young man who is just restarting his life.

On my last day with him, he told me to follow his lead: “Never give up, never surrender at what life gives to you. You may be away from your family now, but you have grown. I did! And I have to thank you for all the hard exercises you told me to do. I wouldn’t be able to tie my shoelaces without OT.” Just remembering those words, makes me want to do more and better so I can help other people as well. I hope to create many more memories like this. After all, this is just the beginning!

If you want to know more about my stay in São Miguel and this amazing internship, please don’t hesitate to contact me via email: an*********@gm***.com

Side note

Greetings everyone,

I want to properly welcome you back to another awesome academic year and what better way than sharing Ana’s heartwarming experience! I hope you enjoyed your summer break and are ready for a ton of awesome experiences, life lessons and of course blogs!

Feel free to contact me if you have an experience of your own that want to share with the rest of us!

For now I bid you farewell.

Till next time,
Emmanouela Kanetaki | Blogger

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