Gardening ‘medicine for the soul’

by Hazel Halliburton

“Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul,” American botanist Luther Burbank once said.

For Juanita “Toy” Goodwin, gardening started as something to pass the time, but soon developed into a hobby that turned into a passion — a “medicine for the soul.”

“My favorite flowers are hydrangeas and tulips,” Goodwin said. “I like getting new plants that I’ve never had before and then researching them and learning how to take care of them. My mother, sister and aunts have always enjoyed doing something with flowers including gardening, and I’ve enjoyed it for many years; however, my knees had hurt for so long, I just wasn’t able to get out in my garden anymore.”

In May 2015, Goodwin required a full-knee replacement surgery, which was followed by three and half weeks of strict attention, focus and physical therapy at Unity Health – Orthopaedic and Spine Center. When she found out she would need therapy, she did not expect it to be an encouraging and positive experience, but before her surgery, she had given up simple activities that she had once enjoyed, such as spending time in her flower garden and walking her pet shih tzu. She wanted her life back.

Goodwin said the positive atmosphere in therapy helped renew her spirit in what would have been a challenging recovery time. With a full agenda of recovery and therapeutic treatment, she worked with physical therapists and staff to gain back the activities that had once brought her joy before her surgery. After only a few weeks of hard work, Goodwin said she felt like a completely new person.

“I not only felt like a new person — I was new,” Goodwin said. “Every step I made, everything I did, the therapy team was there for me. If I wanted to do less, they would push me a little further and they did it in such a way, it felt more like exercise than therapy. They would tell me how to do things at home and gave me a lot of encouragement. That is why I enjoyed my experience there. After therapy, I was able to plant two flower gardens with new bulbs and was absolutely amazed that I was able to do so much so soon after therapy.”

Now, she is able to enjoy the activities that make her happy and bring her joy — without the pain.

“It has given me a new life,” Goodwin said. “It hurt for years and it has been great to be able to do the simple things in life again like work outside in my flowerbeds and even just walk to the neighbors. What I am looking forward to now is having the ability to go to my grandson’s graduation without using a cane, and enjoy all the activities, like having my family home on that special day.”