The Arizona State University West
Literary Magazine

May, 2000
Volume 8, Number 1



A Psychologistís Rehabilitation Memoir

Thomas V. McGovern, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
Department of Integrative Studies
Arizona State University West
Thomas V. McGovern, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychology in the Department of Integrative Studies at Arizona State University West. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and has been a G. Stanley Hall Lecturer, Chair of the National Conference to Enhance Undergraduate Education in Psychology, former President of the Arizona Faculties Council, and faculty representative to the Arizona Board of Regents. Recipient of the University Distinguished Teaching Award at Virginia Commonwealth University and the Faculty Award of Achievement in Service at ASU West, he teaches courses in Adult Career Development, Multicultural Autobiographies, and Spiritual Narratives.

E.B. McGovern

E.B. McGovern is an award-winning Phoenix photographer.

The storyteller keeps the stories
all the escape stories
she says "With these stories of ours
we can escape almost anything
with these stories we will survive."

óLeslie Marmon Silko

Patient Preparation

I prepare for every class I teach. I prepare for meetings. I prepare for trips out of town. I prepare for family events. I prepare lists for weekend chores around the house. My kids have called me ďMr. Schedule ManĒ on more than one occasion.

However, I didnít prepare to be paralyzed only forty-eight hours after my feet tingled and my legs felt too heavy to lift. I didnít prepare to be in the hospital for 120 days or to spend another sixty days in outpatient rehabilitation.

My list of things to do in the summer of 1997 did not include learning all over again how to roll over, to sit, to stand, and to walk. I didnít know what it was like not to be able to smile because I couldnít touch my bottom lip with my top lip. I never imagined that my hands could be unable to sustain the weight of a single page of paper.

I have long been a teacher, but I had to become a student again. My physicians, therapists, and nurses were my teachers. My wife and children were my coaches. My colleagues and friends were fans. I learned a lot about how people learn under the most adverse conditions of pain and paralysis.  I learned that good teachers offer not only information, but most of all hope.

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© Copyright 2000 Thomas V. McGovern, E.B. McGovern, and Arizona State University West
Last Updated: April 26, 2001