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Times Like These by H. Schussman

H. Schussman is the author of El Tiburon, and this is her life-changing story in her words.


In my teens, I chose a career as a cosmetologist for a couple of reasons; I wasn’t a good student so didn’t anticipate a college path, and I felt it would be a good career for raising a family. At twenty-five I married my high-school sweetheart and expected a family to immediately follow, which it didn’t. After many years of no babies, I had a hair client tell me he thought I’d make a very good physical therapist (I’d been a personal trainer on the side for about eight years).




I was intrigued, but I just couldn’t imagine going back to college full time, followed by a full-time career, if I was going to have babies. I decided it was time to pray and ask God to tell me if I could have children or not. If I couldn’t, I would know what to do next—physical therapy. A week later I was in the emergency room doubled over in pain. They performed an emergency laparoscopy, and the doctor sat my husband and I down to say I was fine, but he had to break the news to us that I would never be able to have children (my fallopian tubes were a tangled knot of scar tissue).


I was in awe. I couldn’t believe God actually answered me! I promptly enrolled in the junior college and met with a councilor. He told me there was no PT program at the nearby university, and my grades would have to be near perfect to get into any program. I told him there would be a PT program by the time I got my associates degree. I was in for an uphill ride with my classes. My testing put me at the very bottom of entry level classes, except English of course. I approached every single teacher and told them I had to have an A, and I needed to know how to make that happen. I graduated on the Dean’s Honor role with an associate’s in mathematics and physical science! Unbelievable. But God wanted me to be a PT.




My last semester, I was called into my councilor’s office. He wanted to tell me CSUS would be starting a PT program that year. I smiled and told him I wasn’t surprised because God wanted me to be a PT. He also told me there would be close to a thousand students applying. They would interview eighty and accept thirty-two so don’t expect to get in the first try. I shrugged.


I took my last year of prerequisites at CSUS and applied for the program. I still remember walking up to look at the list of eighty and seeing my name there. I sat in the stairwell and called my husband. As soon as he answered, I burst into tears.


I went to my interview and rocked it. Four weeks later I got my letter of acceptance. PT school was grueling, let me tell you. It took every ounce of energy and time I had. I studied constantly for two years straight. I had one semester left when I herniated a disc in my neck. I had to drop out of the program for surgery. Due to the predesigned curriculum, I had to wait a year to re-enter the program, and I graduated with the next class. I passed the six hours of exams and went to work with geriatrics.




I ultimately specialized in psychiatric and cognitive disorders in the elderly and taught a class on the subject as a guest speaker until I retired. For eighteen years I was a clinical instructor for the program (the students came to my work for their internship) and therefore nudged eighteen more PTs out into the big new world. Too many times to count, I had a patient tell me I was a Godsend. Usually I just patted their hand, but sometimes I would tell them my story.


Now I’m following the next path God has set before me as an author.

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