Susan Hall, PT with Karen
By Alison Weder
Karen, a patient from Advanced Physical Therapy Center (Part of the Phoenix PT Family) Story of Determination, Hard Work and Trust in Physical Therapy.
“I am a believer in PT. If it’s offered to you, you should take it and take as much as you can have. It can only do good. And you’ll meet some really great people in the process, people who will help you on your journey.”
Karen Mulcahy knows all about physical therapy. Advanced Physical Therapy Center has been making a difference in her life for over six years. Her APTC story began when she started having knee trouble. The therapists helped until it became clear, she needed to have her knee replaced. Her first knee replacement surgery was in 2012. It would be her first of three. After each surgery, APTC made her stronger and got her back on her feet. But then, a devastating diagnosis: MRSA. Karen was left with an unthinkable choice. Amputation or risk a worse, possibly deadly infection.
To Karen, the choice was to live, and live a long time. Karen’s right leg was amputated in June of 2016. After the surgery, Karen came back to Advanced Physical Therapy. She had to learn to walk on a prosthesis and build her strength, one more time. Susan Hall, PT, had helped Karen in the past. “She’s ruthless,” Karen reveals. “She doesn’t let you get by with anything.” But Karen also credits Sue with getting her through the worst of it, each time.
Just as Karen was getting used to her new way of life, her husband had a health scare of his own. In a rush to see him, before he underwent surgery for a heart problem, Karen fell. A broken hip landed her in the hospital bed next to his. He went home a few days later. She went to a rehabilitation facility to recover from a total hip replacement.
In April 2018, Karen came back to APTC. Determined to fight, she started down the tough road to recovery, once again.
On Therapy Days, Karen says, “I’m ready. By the time I get here I’m locked and loaded. Chug, chug, chug to get through therapy. I feel like I’ve accomplished something. I might be tired, but I’ve accomplished something. Sometimes its 2 steps forward, 3 steps back. But you keep going. You have to live your own story. How you choose to do that is totally up to you.”
Karen has tried other therapy centers and has even tried in-home therapy. But, she says nothing compares to APTC. She believes in the therapists and appreciates the variety recovery options available at the Clio clinic. Karen uses the mats and the weights and once she’s completed her doctor prescribed round of therapy sessions, she always follows up with APTC’s “Step Down” program. It provides people like Karen access to APTC’s gym facilities, so she can continue to work on what she learned during her therapist led treatment.
Karen’s prosthetic leg is painted with the message, “What a long strange trip it’s been.” The line, from the Grateful Dead song is one Karen relates to. She says, “I have not walked this path alone. People along the way helped me…Hard things come a long and I shed a lot of tears, but I made it…Now, if I can just continue and get this (hip) healed up. But, I’m not giving up.”
Karen still works with Sue to improve her gait and strengthen her hip. She hopes her story will inspire others to keep pushing, never give up and pay it forward when it’s their turn.
“People say – you are such an inspiration and I could never do what you’ve done. I say – you could, you just don’t know it yet. I didn’t have a choice. I wasn’t going to just sit down and die.” – Karen Mulcahy, September, 2018