Nelson Marquez, PT, EdD, Physical Therapy Editor

Nelson Marquez, PT, EdD, Physical Therapy Editor

Last month, I shared with you my experience working with a homeless patient and how indifferent some individuals could be toward him. I considered my having worked with him as my way of giving back, which I had always done for several years during the holidays.

I couple of weeks ago, one of my co-workers was happily sharing with me an experience he had while in a drive-through. He said that as he was about to pay for his purchase, the cashier told him that his meal had already been paid for. The customer before him had paid for his meal and four other customers behind him. I asked him if he would do the same so that this chain of kindness wouldn’t be broken. He said, “One of these days I will.” However, to date, he hasn’t done it. This makes me wonder: I no evil deed goes unpunished, what about good deeds? Are the favors returned?

Recently, working in the same facility where I met John – the patient who lost his home and sustained a back pain – I overheard a conversation between a PT and a new patient in the adjoining treatment cubicle as I was finishing up my documentation toward the end of the day. The new patient, accompanied by a friend, is being evaluated by the PT for back problems. The cause of the problem sounded familiar – carrying heavy loads throughout the day, mostly personal belongings. When asked by the PT as to his occupation, the patient replied that he is currently unemployed but has a prospect. However, he needs to get rid of his back problems in order to be considered for the job.

As the PT left the treatment area and began to prepare the equipment that will be used for the patient’s treatment, I continued to overhear the conversation between the patient and his friend. The friend’s voice sounded familiar. He reassured the patient that he will have nothing to worry about for his physical therapy visit; that he’ll take care of the expenses. In addition, with a chuckle, he said that it was good that the patient cleaned up and changed clothes before entering the facility. This allowed them to gain access to the clinic without scrutiny and embarrassment.

The PT completed the patient’s treatment and provided him with a home exercise program and instructions on proper body mechanics. Seemingly relieved of his back issues, the patient was very thankful to his friend for bringing him to the facility.

When the administrative assistant asked the patient’s friend how he came about to learn about the clinic, he claimed that he was once a patient in that clinic, mentioning the exact date when he received physical therapy services for a similar condition. He said that had he not received proper care on that day, he would not have been able to turn his life around. This is the very reason why he also brought his friend to the clinic. It is his way of paying back someone who paid attention to him when no one would.

As he settled the charges for the PT services received by his friend, he mentioned to the administrative assistant that he is paying the exact amount for another patient that will be coming to the clinic the following day. When the administrative assistant asked why he would do such a thing, he simply replied, “Because once, someone had helped me; when you asked him why he would do such a thing, that person told you that he is his brother’s keeper. So, I say to you now, I am doing this because I am also my brother’s keeper.”

At that time, I arose from my seat. As I parted the curtain that separated the documentation area from where the conversations were occurring, my question was answered. Good deeds, somehow, gets to be paid forward.

How about you? What good deeds have you paid forward lately?

Send comments to