Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hello Pysical Therapy: Nice to Meet You

So a couple weeks ago I started physical therapy for my shoulder. It had been six weeks since my surgery, and that seems the standard time to start "working" something that has recently been torn to shreds and then surgically put back together.

I have never had the occasion to have physical therapy in my life. I had no idea what to expect. I thought it would be oh, 30 minutes a couple times a week. No, says my PT, Ned, we might as well get everything back together as soon as possible. Let's work hard now, so we don't have to later. OK, I told Ned. You're the pro. I'm just a 43 year old woman who can't do her bra up anymore or reach that one piece of hair on the back of my head. And since I want to be able to do those things once again, I am following Ned's regimen.

Our goals are to get back all my "range of motion" and build muscle at the same time. This is a delicate balance. If you strain it building muscle then that sets you back in the range of motion department, and if you strain it getting range of motion back then that slows up the muscle building process. So we must work incrementally each day to make sure the proper balance is struck.

Well, this balance takes about 90 minutes three times a week, not including driving time. I know, I know, what else do I have to do in the dead of winter? Much to Darren's delight, I am missing a whole bunch of winter clearance shopping opportunities. By the time I get Leah to school and take a shower and get ready it's time to go to PT. And then it's 11:30. I have to be to work in a hour, but I have a bunch of errands I still want to run and I need to grab some lunch, etc..

This getting better feels like a full-time job.

When I arrive at PT, first I have heat, then ultrasound, then exercises, then stretching, then more exercises, then ice. Bam! The morning is gone!

So Ned, he's the best guy. He can't believe I have no pain. He says most people who've had my surgery are a six or seven on pain and I came in with a one, and that was only because I really tried hard that day to reach that one piece of hair with the straightener. Since then I'm a zero on pain. And I'm getting closer to making my hair look like I give a darn.

I have no idea why I have been blessed with no pain. But I have been. And it's amazing.

On that first day, Ned looked at my chart and said, "You had an anterior AND posterior labrum repair. And you have no pain?" When I answered no, he said, great, we're gonna work then. And when I'm done "working" I wonder why I didn't tell him I was a five on pain so I could leave earlier.

But there I am. Learning while I'm working. Learning how intricate and astounding the human body is to repair itself like this. I'm feeling some sense of esteem that I am making improvements rapidly. I'm feeling great that when Ned takes measurements of my "range of motion" the numbers are going up.

This is the first time in my life that my measurement numbers involving my body are going up and that's is a good thing!

And then I feel grateful. I met a woman half my age who has degenerative arthritis and she will have to have MANY surgeries to repair bones that are rubbing together. She was doing exercises to prevent having the surgery I just had, but she said it's inevitable that she will have it some day.

There are patients who are still in a ton of pain. They drag themselves in on crutches and endure. And I think what a terrible time of year to be on crutches when at any moment a piece of ice could send them back to surgery.

One Mom sat on the table doing her knee exercises while reading a Magic Tree House book to her five-year old. She was there at least as long as me. I was so glad I don't have to drag kids to PT. Everyone there is doing all they can to restore their bodies or make them even better than before surgery.

It's sort of a sense of community I feel with all these recovering folks. Who would have thought.


Kirstin said...

Oh Ellen, the hassle and interruption to daily life! That's a tough one because it throws your groove off everywhere else. You're a trooper and good girl for actually going and doing it!

Judy said...

Been there, done that. Keep up the good work, Ellen. Maybe you can take up tennis next spring :) Your compassion for others is wonderful.

Macy said...

I'm glad it's working!!!