Earl Bayless was riding in his work truck on December 21, 2016 when his driver fell asleep, causing a major accident. Their truck flipped several times in the air and skidded a block down the road before coming to a stop and leaving Earl to wonder what just happened. From that accident, Earl suffered a concussion, eight broken ribs and serious injuries to his right hip, left leg and spine.
After leaving the hospital, Earl’s doctor recommended physical therapy in order to avoid surgery and told Earl to call ARC Physical Therapy+.
Earl set-up an appointment at ARC Physical Therapy+ in Topeka and from his first appointment realized he found somewhere special.
“They take each one of their patients as a personal challenge,” Earl shared. “You don’t become a number, every person there is special to them.”
Even so, early on Earl was nervous. He spent time working with physical therapist Mark Kohls before transitioning to working full time with work conditioning specialist, Megan Biladeau. Although he could tell they were great at what they did, he was worried about having to undergo surgery on his hip, leg and spine which bothered him all the time and made it hard to get around.
Megan completely understood, “Trust is essential. Patients have to buy in to the process. And that is not always going to feel good or be fun. People that buy in and work hard get results.”
So, for five months, Earl went to four-hour physical therapy sessions five days a week. He would arrive in the morning to have a cup of coffee and read the paper before getting started with his physical therapy.
Megan would have him warm up on the treadmill or bike, then immediately start working on the areas that most bothered him before getting him started on his regular work conditioning workouts.
“When I first started therapy, the pain didn’t go away, then it kinda started feeling the other way, little by little getting better before all of a sudden there was an amazing turnaround.”
He was impressed with how Megan took time to work with him and gave him confidence to move on.
“It didn’t matter what was bothering me, Megan had an exercise for it. She treated me gentle and kind, but with discipline. I’m not saying she didn’t push you. She was kinda an old drill sergeant, I was making up words that the Lord was shaking in his boots about, but she went above and beyond and got me through it.”
Megan laughed and agreed, “We have to get the patient to do the things that may not feel good initially so they can get functioning better and feeling better in the long run. Some of the daily joking made the whole experience more palatable. If you can laugh or giggle a bit throughout the process, then maybe the pain isn’t going to feel so bad or the workouts seem so long.”
Throughout the recovery process Earl saw 5 doctors from Kansas City to Lawrence and many thought he would need surgery, but as he went back for follow up, the doctors could tell things were getting better.
“The doctors were really impressed. I avoided surgery and got completely off of pain medicine.”
Megan gives a lot of that credit to Earl, “I tell my patients that I should be a sign post. I should guide you on what to do, but they have to put in the work. Patient effort 100% predicts the outcome. Earl was completely trusting and a very hard worker, so the process became easy for me. Although, maybe not quite as easy for Earl!”
On his last day of physical therapy the clinic threw a party.
“They all got me cupcakes, shook my hand, gave me a hug. All of them were fantastic. They made a difference in my life and became like family.”
Megan explained, “Earl is a great guy and a kind soul. The whole vibe in our clinic changed for the months that Earl attended Physical Therapy and Work Conditioning here. It’s hard not to feel like family with Earl because he can get the shyest person talking. He made our clinic, and all our patients, feel like family while he was here.”
The entire clinic made a difference for Earl, but Megan left a lasting impact.
“I owe everything to Megan. She is really a wonderful young lady. I have a lot of respect and admiration for her.”
Megan loved hearing that, “For me, helping a patient recover from an injury and return to work, sport, or whatever they do, is the most rewarding part of my job. Seeing their hard work and dedication to the process pay off and get them back to normal function is just amazing. It is why I chose this field.”
Even today, Earl stops by the clinic every few months to deliver flowers to Megan and a snack for the guys.
His advice for other patients?
“You have to do what they tell you to do and you gotta have a positive attitude.”
Way to go, Earl!