It is shade before 11 on a sun-kissed, albeit chilly, spring morning.
The man, age 76, full of vim, vigor and an inspiring outlook, walks crisply – and without incident – about the room.
His steps are firm, with balance and with length. Confidence fills John Mastin’s every step.
For good measure, John’s bride of 49 years, Janet Mastin, strolls with him, also playing the room.
A smile dots her face and she stops to talk to those around her.
There is a reason to smile.
Life is good.
Falling – without explanation – five times a day– is now in John Mastin’s rearview mirror.
“I like to tell people I crawled in here, but I walked out,’’ John said, a wide grin crossing his face. “That’s how far I have come (in three weeks). That’s what this place (Rock Valley Physical Therapy) has done for me. I don’t know where I would be if not for Rock Valley, for Chelsey (Ashcraft) and Connor (Obert).’’
An Army veteran who served in the Vietnam War, John, also a cancer survivor, has struggled physically in recent years. Balance, locomotor skills and core-strength issues, have slowed what was a retirement-life filled with camping, fishing and an always-on-the-go lifestyle.
John and Janet were at a loss, in search of answers, wondering what was ailing him.
“We had walkers, we had lift chairs, we had scooters and everything else to help,’’ Janet said of John’s struggles with balance and his frequent falls. “He would fall several times a day.’’
One day, while seeking balance help with Obert (PT, DPT), the Rock Valley therapist convinced – and fought for – John to seek help from a neurologist.
After a battery of tests, it was revealed that John suffers from Parkinson’s Disease. “Scary to hear, but it was an answer,’’ John said. “That’s when we met Chelsey. She’s been amazing and my life has changed.’’
Ashcraft (MOT, OTR, L), a Certified LSVT Big provider, stepped forward to better John and Janet’s lives. A gifted and dedicated therapist, Ashcraft also harbors a plus-plus personality when it comes to establishing a bond with her patients. She and John, with Janet’s support, went to work, implementing the LSVT Big program on John’s behalf.
And work they have.
LSVT Big is a highly-researched, evidence-based protocol, designed for those with Parkinson’s Disease and those with Parkinons’s-like symptoms. It’s a protocol that helps re-calibrate the brain to get people who have Parkinsons to be bigger in their everyday movement.
From walkers, to chair lifts and scooters, from frequent falls, to walking – with balance – and from sitting and standing without issue – to a life free of unknown frustration – John Mastin’s life has been changed for the better.
“There is nothing I cannot do,’’ John said. “My life has changed so much. This (grin) is real. I cannot say enough about the help I have received with Rock Valley. It saved my life.’’
It was then that Ashcraft politely cut John off, saying his progress – despite the amazing merits of the LSVT Big program – fell on him and Janet.
“LSVT Big promotes functional daily movements,’’ Ashcraft said. “John’s great strides, that credit, should go to him and Janet. We meet four times a week for an hour and John is diligent in his work here. It’s amazing. But when he is not here, he is asked to go through the exercises we stress here and to do them twice daily.
“He, with Janet’s help, has been great about staying the course we have mapped for him,’’ a smiling Ashcraft added. “What is so encouraging is this progress has been made in about three weeks.’’
All parties involved know dealing with Parkinson’s is a marathon, not a sprint.
“I know I have to stay with this,’’ John said, proudly sharing that he had come so far that he was assisting in new carpet installation at his home and knows that fishing, camping and family events are back on the calendar. “But we have great trust and respect for Chelsey. I truly mean this. I just know I would have been in trouble without her, without Connor and Rock Valley. I’m so lucky.’’
That good fortune goes both ways.
“This is about relationships,’’ Ashcraft said. “I have come to know two amazing people through this. It’s inspiring. It’s the beauty of what I do each day.’’
It’s what Making Better Lives is all about.
By: Johnny Marx, Storyteller