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Jun 09, 2022

Feeling like a million bucks: Rock Valley makes life-changing difference in Johanson’s life

The irony of the journey that is Ralph Johanson and Rock Valley Physical Therapy, is a paper Johanson was authoring when he turned to RVPT for help.

It was titled: ‘How To Feel Like a Million Bucks.’

When Johanson, a gifted engineer and longtime Davenport (Iowa) school board member/president, sought chronic pain relief help from Rock Valley, his account was deep in the red when it came to the “feeling like a million bucks” department.

“The pain was significant in my left lower back extending down the back of my leg, sometimes extending down to my knee,’’ Johanson explained in a letter, adding that driving up to four hours daily for work was playing a significant role in his discomfort.

“I had never had pain like that. I started taking Ibuprofen, and I would occasionally take more than recommended because I figured,  “Hey, I’m a bigger-than-average guy, I need more to get the same effect.’’ I backed off some, but still took at least 6 pills per day.’’

Johanson believed – simply – his pain would go away on its own. It did not. And that pain prevented him from the simplest of duties, taking a large bite from his quality of life.

 A life that had become a struggle.

“There were times I couldn’t sleep,’’ Johanson noted. “My work requires a lot of deep thinking – which I enjoy – but the pain was enough that I would put off thinking, because I couldn’t even sit down to a computer to do the work. My pain was about a 7 (out of 10). I was taking 6 Ibuprofen a day and still dealing with considerable pain, and a somewhat lethargic, inefficient approach to life.’’

The aforementioned paper Johanson was penning, had become a true-to-life contradiction.

“I was valuing many things, like sleep, low stress, a healthy Vagus Nerve, no illness, being grateful, giving to others, a great relationship with God, guarding my gateways, and a few other things,’’ Johanson shared. “I had come to accept the pain as part of life. It didn’t really dawn on me how much the pain had changed my life until it got to where it didn’t affect me as much. I figured the pain would go away, just because. But it didn’t.’’

Enter Rock Valley Physical Therapy’s Amanda Malone, PT, DPT.  Truly at his wits end, Johanson turned his physical – and in part – his mental well-being over to Malone, a dedicated, kind, compassionate and gifted physical therapist from Rock Valley’s Northwest (Davenport, Iowa) clinic.

“Ralph was frustrated with this pain as he never experienced pain like it,’’ said Malone, who did her undergraduate work at the University of Northern Iowa and earned her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Des Moines University.

“He stated that there was some short-term relief from the chiropractor (he had seen) and was relying heavily on ibuprofen for pain relief,’’ added Malone. “Ralph was having increasing pain of the left buttock with sitting and a left straight-leg raise.’’

After a thorough examination, Malone put a plan into motion. The two worked tirelessly on a bevy of basic stretches Johanson would benefit from while sitting at his desk and traveling in his car. She also worked on Johanson’s left leg and low back with soft-tissue mobilization and passive stretching for increased tissue mobility and decreased pain.

“Over the span of 3 months and a total of 10 visits, I educated Ralph more and more on the importance of mobility, sleep and good posture,’’ Malone said. “We also worked on the awareness of muscles and the reasoning behind those exercises. Ralph was educated also on the importance of mobility, space and blood flow for good central nervous system functioning.’’

Johanson was diligent in his efforts, but says having a knowledgeable and patient-first therapist – one invested deeply in his long-term success – paid huge dividends. Johanson came to understand what Rock Valley’s dedication to “Making Better Lives’’ is about.

“Ralph worked into advanced-core strengthening of modified planks, mountain climbers and balance training with step-up-and-down and single-leg stance as his left leg pain became less and less,’’ Malone explained. “He was so happy when he was able to go a day without ibuprofen and then that day turned into a week and that week turned into weeks.’’

Johanson came to understand the time and effort Malone put into bettering his life. He shared volumes regarding her patience, her willingness to explain what was before him and extolled the virtues of her thousand-watt personality.

“Amanda’s work, her understanding of how my body works, and how we get it back to where it should be, helped me fairly quickly to reduce – and then eliminate – the Ibuprofen,’’ Johanson said of Malone. “Amanda’s personality was so appropriate for my success. I don’t know exactly what about it was important, but she was supportive, encouraging, caring, asking if I have any more questions, teaching me about why she did some of the things she did, helping me learn the “whys’’ and “hows’’ of making this work so I can continue to walk until I die’’

Eventually, Johanson would reach the point of “feeling like a million bucks,’’ and beyond.

“I got to zero pain,’’ Johanson wrote. “Without the pain, and without the drugs, I was really jazzed. My feeling like a million bucks actually exceeded a million bucks. It’s now about $1.4 million, which I decided to re-evaluate, because that just doesn’t roll off the tongue as nicely as a straight million bucks.’’

Thanks to Malone, Johanson said he did not have to settle for the constant battle of pain that was affecting his life.

“Amanda, seriously affected my life, perhaps saving it,’’ he noted. “At a minimum greatly improving the quality of my life, which was already great. I could easily have just accepted drugs as part of my life. I’m incredibly thankful for everything she has done for me, and for many of our discussions.’’

Johanson was also privy to a first-hand look at the motivation that pushes Malone and the rest of the Rock Valley family to be its best at all times.

“I have told this story to many people because it so dramatically affected my life,’’ he shared. “And before this, I didn’t really even understand physical therapy. In the telling of my story I mention Rock Valley and especially Amanda.”

“I think Rock Valley has a great business model. Everyone that I encountered there was so customer-service oriented. Everything was easy, the billing, no paperwork, the scheduling, the promptness. And Amanda’s special ways of correcting my malady were, at a minimum, life-changing. All of this is important, and generally helps decrease stress, which I believe is important to a better life.’’

Thanks to Rock Valley Physical Therapy, Ralph Johanson has a better life.

By: Johnny Marx, Storyteller