Ansam Abusabha is a physiotherapist at CVT Jordan.
As a physiotherapist, what makes me proud is seeing the improvement of clients from their first group session through the tenth session. This is when a client said to me, “Hope and determination are the only ways to live a true life.” That is what I truly learn from them.
During my two years’ experience at CVT, I have seen the difference in clients during and after taking our services. “I am feeling different – all of my family say that,” a client said to me. Clients who see big differences are those who come to us with psychogenic seizures.
Psychogenic seizures are psychological in nature, not epileptic . They can last more than an hour and often involve losing consciousness or awareness. This was exactly the experience of my Sudanese client. When she came to CVT, she did not know that her life was going to be changed and improved. She came to us hoping to feel safe and comforted, and that was exactly what she got at the end of the sessions. She had been complaining of seizures for 10 years, and it affected her ability to do daily activities and to give proper support to her niece, the only one she has.
This client was not aware when the seizures were going to occur, and when it happened, she could not hear people around her or respond. “When the seizure happens, I always try to call my niece, but I can’t. When I wake up, I don’t remember what happened to me,” she said. This affected her life in many ways, especially in functioning. She was afraid to do outside activity and the activities of daily living. She felt anxious all the time, thinking about when the seizures would occur. This made her avoid interacting with people and she was isolated. She said she usually woke up with general tiredness and a feeling that her muscles were tight.
When she came to CVT, she said, “I want to feel normal. I want to do any activity without being afraid to fall down and have a seizure.”
From my training, I knew that a history of traumatic experiences can cause these seizures. My client told me she had been exposed to an attempted sexual assault. She said, “It affected me in many ways. I am always thinking about what happened to me and why. This put me in a situation of stress, feeling shame. I was isolated from my friends and my niece and after a while I started having seizures. I don’t know why.”
My client had visited a doctor in the past, but it didn’t help. “He gave me certain tests but at the end of the assessment the diagnosis was epileptic seizures. He gave me medication but the seizures still happened.”
I worked with the client to look at her history and her complaint of chronic pain. I developed a treatment plan with many types of exercises, firstly to manage her pain, including stretches, self massage of tender points in her muscles, joint movement and pain education. I also taught her how to track the different signs in her body that came just before a seizure happened. When she started to notice these changes happening, she was able to use techniques that we practiced such as breathing, yoga and relaxation, which calmed her body and moved her away from having a seizure. Session after session, there was obvious progress in the client and she was happy. She had high commitment to reach her goals despite everything.
She described a situation that happened after coming to CVT. “My breathing rate was increasing and I was not breathing well,” she said. “I felt that I was going to fall down, so I started immediately to do the diaphragmatic breathing exercise I learned. After a while I started to feel okay and the seizures didn’t happen.” She told me this after only three sessions.
By her determination and motivation, she achieved her goal to be free of seizures. Today she is able to do her daily activities without being afraid. She does outside activities confidently. For most people, this is a small thing, but for her it was a huge improvement. That’s what CVT does to make the impossible, possible. This is where we are making a difference.
“Each week I hear my therapist at CVT telling me ‘You can do it – you will be good at that.’ Through life, I learned that not everyone believed in me the way my mom and dad do, but now I have CVT who also fully believed in me,” she said. “I always hear the sound of my therapist saying that I can reach my goals. If I dig deep, I will gain success.”
For me, I saw the empowerment in her eyes. She was the one who controlled her life, not the seizures. She was able to recognize her symptoms easily. As a member of the CVT Jordan team, after seeing this progression, I can simply say that what we planted in the soul of every person will grow. And that is exactly what I achieved with this client.
People with determination are those who get up and keep going, and who believe in themselves despite all obstacles. Our daily life demands small doses of determination at every twist and turn. For every decision we make, there is always an option that seems easier, that will take us away from our goal. Determination is not always beating a giant with a single strike – it’s the day-to-day focus to do the tough things first.