I inherited a lot of good qualities from my parents: my sense of humor (such as it is), my love of animals, my green eyes, brown hair – back when it actually WAS a color (the tendency to go gray very early came right from my Dad, God love him). I also inherited my long legs and arms, round face, high blood pressure, allergies, and arthritis (Thanks, Mom for that last one :)).
Thanks to the wonders of Osteoarthritis and degenerative discs, I have been introduced to the joys of Physical Therapy. I have been assured that my aches and pains will end and new range of motion will be restored to my neck and shoulders. Everyday I perform my exercises religiously in the privacy of my living room. Twice a week, I leave after a full day of work and go directly to meet with my PHYSICAL THERAPIST. Notice the italics. Anyone who can cause that much agony in the name of good health deserves the italics.
Now don’t misunderstand me. It’s not that I don’t have faith that it will ultimately work. I am just hoping against hope that it doesn’t kill me in the meantime.
The office is lovely and very reassuring, with huge windows, soft music, plenty of tables with pillows to lay on, nice new equipment, and plenty of assistants in color coordinated Polo shirts. Impressive to say the least!
The session begins with me comfortably reclining on a cushioned table, pillows under my head, bolster under my knees, facing one of those windows with a positively bucolic view – all designed to engender feelings of peace and tranquility. A lovely heated wrap is placed around my neck, and the warmth lulls me into a false sense of relaxation…and depending on how trying the day was – euphoria. I’m allowed to recline there cradled in warmth and soft music until I’m almost dozing… or comatose.
Once my defenses are down, the heated wrap comes off. The announcement is made that I am about to be worked on. (I think a better statement would be that I am about to be worked OVER, but it’s all semantics.) The massaging begins….
In theory, it makes sense for probing fingers to seek out the knots in my neck and shoulders and attempt to unknot them. The reality though, oh my. I have to give this man credit. He knows his business. He unerringly finds the knottiest parts, and has the audacity to ask me if ” this hurts”. Upon being assured that it does, he REALLY digs his fingers in. Some part of my brain finds it interesting that as he prods deeply in the area of my clavicle , pain shoots up the side of my neck, past my ear, and over the top of my head. Upon being informed of this surprising occurrence, he comments that’s a new one, usually the pain centers over the eye.
Seriously? Is this the same set of rules as when the dentist tells you never to use sharp objects on your teeth, and then the next moment goes in with a grappling hook? The same theory as you have to spend money to make money? You have to cause pain to cure pain? I’m already hurting…. somehow I’m not so sure I’m going to break even on this….
After an interminable amount of time, I have somehow survived the unknotting and can now move on to exercises on those shiny machines. Everything is in three sets of ten….the magic number. I’m afraid to lose count in fear that one extra or too few will ruin this path I am on to health and flexibility (or at least the ability to turn my head enough to look over my shoulder without losing consciousness). I ignore the throbbing ache that has settled across my entire head, and settle into a smooth rhythm for the sets. I’m pretty proud of myself on completing the first ten and begin the second with the end in sight. Then one of those Polo-shirted youths hops over to tell me that I have to hold my elbows differently, my shoulders further down, and pull back with my arms more so that my back tightens and draws together. He then stands there until I execute his directives to his satisfaction. Fortunately I am able to do this. Unfortunately this position aggravates my lower back and elbows where the arthritis and disc problems had been dozing in silence.
By the time I finish up and go confirm my next appointment, I am carrying my purse with my left arm while my right arm hangs uselessly at my side, I am slightly stooped to alleviate the shooting daggers in my lower back, my neck is (still) sore, my head is still aching, and I am squinting in the sun because the pain has finally reached the correct position over my eyes.
I’m sitting here now with a hot water bottle tucked at my back. My neck feels like it can hardly hold my head up. As soon as I can drag my sorry body out of this chair, I am going to take Advil.
I can’t wait for this Physical Therapy to take effect…..
Maybe if I do FOUR sets of ten……