I’m Nancy, and this is My Story
I am Nancy. A girl from the Deep South; I was born and grew up in Louisiana! I married, moved to Mississippi. My most important and significant accomplishment has been raising 3 amazing children. I am a nurturer, helping people brings me the most satisfaction. Often in life we are given the best and worst events intertwined. As my marriage ended, I began to search for what’s next. What did I want my future to look like? My 2 youngest children were in college in two different states. Meeting with a counselor at my local college I applied to the OTA program. After a year of pre-requisites, I was accepted and began the program. Challenging? YES! The first day as I parked in the parking lot and walked toward the building, I was excited and nervous. I would be with this group of students for the next 2.5 years – what if no one wanted to be my friend? I was afraid that they would be thinking, who wants to have projects with the older lady who looks like she could be our mom? I prayed for one friend. I love that God not only hears our prayers, he listens and provides. I now have lifelong young friends! I was elected vice president of our class – I wasn’t even on the ballot!
After graduation, I was offered a contract position with 2 school districts in NE Arkansas. The therapists mentoring, sharing with me a wealth of knowledge and skill of pediatric care, have carried me through my career. I miss them every day! After 5 years away from family I had a desire to be closer to them. As I began the search for work, I applied at several companies in Mississippi and Texas. One of the companies I contacted was Centra Healthcare. They were different. The conversations were always easy, not rushed or delayed. Kylie has been my recruiter; she has made my transition to travel easy. The hours she worked on finding positions, staying in contact with companies and with me has been impressive.
My journey to being a COTA and being licensed in 3 states has not been like anyone else’s journey and that’s ok! The challenges I have faced have increased my desire to help clients I work with as they too find themselves in difficult situations. Whether the clients are young in a school setting or elders in a rehab or SNF, they are all nervous, some truly frightened of the unknown. I have a passion to show compassion to those that are hurting or struggling to find a friend, a friendly face, someone that might understand them. I understand that sometimes life changes fast and change is hard, especially when you didn’t want change, but it happened and you have to find a way to find your place. Sometimes, it is simply having someone hold your hand and smile at you and most importantly, someone who will listen, not just hear what you are trying to say. As a COTA, I am committed to being that hand, that smiling face, that ear to hear what they are struggling to say.
My furniture and most of my things are in Brandon, Mississippi! A land full of trees, flowers, grass and water! A place of humidity all year especially from spring to late summer! I am currently working in a Skilled Nursing Facility with short term and long term patients in Perryton, Texas! A land full of tumble weeds, wind turbines (hundreds and they are huge), natural gas and oil derricks, sparse patches of grass, pickup trucks, Mexican Restaurants, an adorable old movie theater (which is reopening soon), brick streets and 1930 style buildings on Main Street, cattle, horses, elk, deer, wild turkeys, good hard working farmers with John Deere combines, wind, erratic weather patterns, high plains, canyons, and the biggest sky you could imagine with sunsets that are stunning and night skies with trillions of bright stars. I have seen all three of the most recent super moons here!
My favorite part of working with the staff and patients is the time I spend with the patients. I have rehab patients that have been discharged from therapy, but they want to continue exercising because they have worked so hard to improve their health. They come to the gym Monday-Friday. It is inspiring to see them interact with their peers and encouraging new patients to keep working so that they can get better. We recently had a woman in short term rehab for a total hip replacement. Her room was next to the therapy room. She shared with me before she was discharged to home fully recovered, that she was going to miss the sounds of all the laughter coming from the therapy room every morning. She thanked me for working with her and making her stronger, for advocating for her, and for bringing so much joy to therapy! She asked me what piece of equipment I would like to have for the therapy department. I was curious as to how much money she wanted to spend, her answer, up to $1,000.00. I said I would have to think about it, because this has never happened to me and I want to really make a great decision. I have lots of therapist friends in various states and I contacted them to see what equipment they used and liked the best. The Nustep machine was the one everyone wanted or had and loved. It is 4 x the amount she is giving the facility. But, speaking to my Administrator we are going to earmark her gift to therapy and see if we can get the remaining funds to purchase a Nustep in the near future. Now this is something I never expected! A patient that I helped, a patient I helped because I was just doing my job, with a smile and making her work, but working with her, talking, listening and encouraging her to do just 2 more, walk just 10 more steps, and she found that she could do more than she thought possible. For me to see her taking the challenges I presented to gain strength and mobility and being successful, this is my satisfaction. I am so thankful I get to see successes often, some very small, but we celebrate every gain, they are all significant!
I’m kind of a nerdy person. The first week I was here I went to the public library and got a library card! I like libraries and real books. I love the beach and we are so far from an ocean here, I only read stories where the setting was at the beach. After reading one book a week for (20) weeks where the location was some beach, it was time to move to all the David Baldacci series, my personal favorite author. Perryton does not have a Walmart; shocking, but the town won’t let big chains do business here. The closest one is in Kansas. I drive 51 minutes north through Oklahoma to go to a Walmart. I laugh every time I make a trip. It’s an easy trip the roads here are wonderful and there isn’t much traffic and so much scenery and sky to enjoy. The other Walmart is 61 minutes south in Pampa, also great roads and canyons to drive through, lots of historical markers as well. I fly to Dallas about every 5th weekend to see my oldest child and her family. It takes 2 hours to get to Amarillo where the major airport is located. I like to shop and eat in Amarillo too.
I love the church I found; one of my new best friends is a member, her husband is the youth pastor. I have gone to events with them and enjoyed being with young people and students as working with pediatrics is still my first love. This church building is over 100 years old, they just finished an interior renovation and it is stunning. They hosted the Panhandle presentation of Messiah during Christmas which was incredible. (-no cowboy hats, evening wear and tuxedos). I have gone to parks and the local track to walk when the weather is not freezing. I was accidentally in a parade around Memorial Day. I was driving from Perryton to Dumas to visit a coworker and meet her family. This little town on the highway had 2 traffic lights. Two fire engines and an ambulance made it through the light. I rolled up behind them and realized when the light turned green another fire engine pulled up behind me. I waved and just kept driving and smiling, me in my car with Mississippi tags. I might have a picture.
My favorite activity is my cycling and yoga classes. The challenge makes me healthy and makes me a better person and therapist. These young ladies that own and teach the classes remind me of how my elderly patients feel about someone leading them in exercises and activities that are really hard and sometimes I don’t want to do all the things that they are doing, but I know if I quit I loose, I cheat myself.
Finally, Kylie, thank you! You worked with me, kept looking and trying to push your way into so many places in Texas facilities until you got me here in Perryton. It has been the perfect fit; small facility, small town. I appreciate your very confident manner as you assure me that no matter what comes up, you can and will take care of it. I know you worked after hours to make calls and line up meetings. I was afraid you were working too much! After I was here and settled, you called to check in to see if I was ok, to see if I needed anything. When this company wanted to extend my contract you were there to work out all the details, getting me my time off between stop and start days. During the most freighting event with my daughter and her pregnancy, you were concerned, sending texts and calls. I know you do not have to be as proactive as you are and I don’t know how you have the time to be so caring. I feel like I have a team with you as the leader. Lisa and the HR team keep up with my time sheets, my deposits and keeping me up to date on re-certs, etc., always, with great attitudes and kind words.