Perseverance, by definition, is the continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure or opposition. Paul Renfrew is perseverance personified.
As a retired physical education teacher and coach for fifty years, Paul has always taken great joy in motivating and training students in physical fitness and sports.
Prior to his stroke a couple of years ago, Paul was an avid cyclist and kayaker. He would log upwards of 3000 miles on his bike per year, choosing among 15 different routes and riding to achieve a personal best each time. When enjoying his visits to Maine, he would kayak 2-3 miles per day. Paul is methodical and competitive, a planner and a goal setter. Paul is also, and most importantly, determined. He is determined to take full advantage of all of the therapy he can to improve each and every day.
After his brief hospital stays and some in-home therapy, Paul began receiving therapy in Whittier’s Outpatient Department. He receives PT and OT services and is delighted to now be able to participate in Aquatic therapy. He had all but forgotten how to perform the strokes that he used to so easily perform without even thinking. He is now able to swim the length of the pool.
Paul takes this recovery process very seriously and regularly practices his therapy at home. “I have an appreciation and respect for the evaluation, goal setting and appropriate progression in learning all of the exercises provided by the therapists. They are addressed in such a way that I can easily adapt them to my own personal rehabilitation at home.” The therapists even send Paul home with a recording of his outpatient sessions so he can be sure he is doing them correctly.
Paul does see himself improving each week. He is able to see his progression in function and stamina and by taking each goal and breaking it down into “bite size” steps, he can measure his achievements. “At Whittier, There is an ultimate respect between the therapist and the customer,” Paul states. “What could be an exhausting, trying experience to correct my handicap has become an enjoyable, pleasant and forward thinking physical experience.”
Paul’s goals are both short and measurable and long and visionary: First, he wants to get back on that bike. He would also like to return to his role as the “trailer” kayaking in Casco Bay in Maine. Lastly, he’d love to coach again one day. These are ambitious goals, but do not count them out. Because Paul has grit. And in the words of Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth, “Grit is the power and passion of perseverance. Grit is sticking with your future – day in and day out – not just for a day, not just for a month, but for years – to make that future a reality”.