Monthly archive for April 2017

From Laborer to Craftsman to Occupational Therapist

From Laborer to Craftsman to Occupational Therapist

 “I started as a laborer working with my hands. I transformed into a craftsman working with my hands and my mind. I ultimately evolved into an occupational therapist working with my hands, my mind, and my heart.” David Blanchard, Occupational Therapist

David Blanchard’s career path ended up taking a turn that he never expected. As a student in Western Michigan University’s (WMU) construction management program, David’s goal was to work with his father’s residential construction company. He enjoyed working with clients by building and renovating their dream homes so after taking some time to hone his building skills, he started a company of his own. While he really enjoyed the client side of the work, it wasn’t long before he realized that long hours in the field were followed by long hours preparing estimates and drumming up the next job.
From Laborer to Craftsman to Occupational Therapist

David’s daughters love the play house he built for them

Around 2008, David decided he was ready for a change so he began exploring different options by shadowing and volunteering whenever he could. His ultimate goal was to find a career that would create security for his growing family and allow him to find satisfaction through helping others.  This path led him to occupational therapy, which intrigued him because of the unique tools used, the broad areas of care provided, and level of personal connection that is required.

Going back to school when you have a family to support isn’t always the easiest decision. During his exploration and quest to become an occupational therapist, David paid bills by working as a production worker/truck driver at a feed mill, a truck driver for a local fertilizer plant, someone who provided consumer care for developmentally disabled children, and eventually a gym aid for Northern.

From Laborer to Craftsman to Occupational TherapistWhen David completed his degree in Interdisciplinary Health Services with a minor in holistic health he entered WMU’s occupational therapy program. During his time there he found many successful hand therapists that presented hand therapy in a way that intrigued him even further. David found great fulfillment in the ability to fix a person’s hand, as he feels the hand contributes to the most personal aspects of an individual’s life. To be able to help people once again perform the activities they love is a rewarding process for him.

From Laborer to Craftsman to Occupational Therapist

Upon graduation we gladly hired David as an occupational therapist where he works with patients who have suffered injury to, or are feeling pain in their hands. He’s also been a great asset to our Work Services team because he can relate to people that are often in positions that he has worked.

From Laborer to Craftsman to Occupational TherapistWhile David admits that his path has not been simple, easy, or the most direct, he feels that it has allowed him the ability to relate to and empathize with his clients. David started as a laborer working with his hands. He transformed into a craftsman working with his hands and his mind. He ultimately evolved into an occupational therapist working with his hands, his mind, and his heart.

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From Laborer to Craftsman to Occupational Therapist

Meg’s Goal is 50 Marathons in 50 States

Meg’s Goal is 50 Marathons in 50 States

Running a marathon in all 50 states is an incredible accomplishment and something that was high on Meg’s bucket list. She was well on her way, having completed a race in 16 different states when pain set in and had her wondering if she’d ever run a marathon again, let alone 34 more.

Meg’s pain developed in her pubic bone while she was training for the Missoula Marathon. She started stretching prior to each run, but the only thing that eased the pain was to walk, not run. As race time approached Meg could only run one mile before the pain took it’s toll. She considered skipping the race all together but her family had already made plans to make the trek to Montana with her and she didn’t want to let them down. Meg continued her training, knowing she would have to walk quite a bit, and this wouldn’t be her best marathon, but at least she’d be able to cross one more state off her list.

Meg’s Goal is 50 Marathons in 50 States
On July 10, 2016 Meg completed the Missoula Marathon, but it was the most painful race she’d ever experienced and she did more walking and thinking in that 26.2 miles than she ever had before. It crossed her mind that this might be the last marathon she’d ever run. The pain didn’t go away after the race like it had while training. In fact, the pain was so severe that she had to lift her leg up with her hands just to get into the car. Feeling down, Meg took a month off from running, thinking maybe the pain would subside with some rest. That first run back proved to be equally as painful after only 100 yards.

Meg’s Goal is 50 Marathons in 50 StatesMeg’s daughter is her biggest supporter

At this point Meg came to Northern to see if physical therapy could help with her pubic pain. She combined her physical therapy treatments with a visit to a sports doctor who conducted an MRI. Ultimately she discovered she was suffering from inflammation of her pubic area, tendonitis of the groin, and she had a small hernia forming. She had a cortisone shot to relieve her pubic bone pain and took a boot camp classes to strengthen her core. In addition, Meg had a Gait Analysis done by one of our therapists where she learned to adjust her stride when running. All these parts of the puzzle combined to reduce Meg’s pain and teach her how to potentially avoid a flare up in the future.

While Meg is still in the healing process, she’s pretty confident that she will be able to continue her goal of running a marathon in each state. Because it may take her some time to get there, she’s set her sights on a more achievable goal for the near future – to be fit and fabulous at the age of 50 (which she turned this spring), and able to run 4-5 miles pain free.

Meg’s Goal is 50 Marathons in 50 StatesMeg’s family came to Montana to cheer her on

At the end of the day it was Meg’s positive attitude that got her through this process. Her ultimate goal still remains getting back to running marathons, but it could take a good year before she can train the way she needs to again. She’s set goals for herself to get stronger and fitter without worrying about the running, and that’s paid off. She can feel a difference in the little bit of running that she is doing because of her improved strength and gait.

Running a marathon is difficult. We’re so happy that Meg didn’t let the pain stop her. She understood there was an underlying problem and through physical therapy, a fitness program, and help from her sports doctor she began the process of healing. When Meg crosses the finish line of her 17th marathon (which we know she will), we’re going to be her #1 supporters, cheering her on the entire way!

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Meg’s Goal is 50 Marathons in 50 States