January 30, 2017
TMI Sports Medicine
“Drop and give me fifty, grunt” snarled my physical therapist, spittle dripping from his chin. “On the double!”
I quivered. I cowered. I rolled into a ball.
“P-p-please. D-d-d-on’t h-h-h-urt m-m-e,” I whimpered.
“You helpless puddle of poo. You disgust me,” he said, upper lips curled, as he kicked me in the side with his steel-toed combat boot.
I was afraid I would surely die until, lo and behold, a miracle happened: I woke up.
Yes, the big day had arrived, at last. As I brushed my teeth, my every nerve pinged with excitement.From here on out, I would eventually get to sling my sling after completing the prescribed number of sessions . Meanwhile, Facebook friends who had undergone physical therapy for on various body parts regaled me with “war” stories. Despite tales from the trenches from other PT “vets”, I resolved, then and there, that my experience would be different.
Jeff and I arrived fifteen minutes before my ten o’clock appointment. Again, my nerves began tuning like an orchestra before a concert. My eyes trained on the entrance to the therapy room; any minute, someone would call my name.
Unlike the part of the office reserved for people waited fifteen minutes — and then thirty, forty, and so on –for someone to call them back, I waited, maybe, twenty minutes at the most. As specified by my paperwork, Daniel would be my therapist. So when I heard a feminine voice say “Kim?”, I was surprised to see a young woman who appeared to be in her twenties.
“You don’t look like Daniel,” I told her as Jeff and I entered the therapy room, set up like a fitness gym. She laughed.
“No, I’m *Sara, one of the students. I’m just going to lead you through some exercises to see what you are able to do, right now.”
Now, it’s important for you to know that I was so excited about the procedure that I really didn’t catch her name, thus the asterisk beside the name “Sara”. It is also crucial to remember that I really don’t remember her exact words, only their essence.
My husband and I followed her into the gym where she directed me to sit up on one of the padded tables, asked me some questions about my pain tolerance and when I took my last pain pill. Then she led me through seven range-of-motion exercises:
- Wrist Active Range of Motion
- Elbow Passive Pronation/Supination
- Active Hand/Finger Gripping
- Passive/Active Assisted Elbow Flexion
- Upper Trapezius Stretch (Stretching the neck muscles)
- Cervical Retractions (Chin Tucks)
- Scapular “Clock” Active Motion (on the shoulders)
She also measured the distance I was able to move my left arm away from my body.
Well, as she directed me through the various routines and told me that these exercises, performed in ten reps each, twice a day, would also be my homework, I felt elated that I could easily do them, particularly the hand and finger movements and tried not to sound boastful when I reported that I already used all ten fingers to type three out of four blog posts since the date of my surgery. I was feeling pretty darned good — for awhile, that is, until the warm room started spinning, and I broke out in a cold sweat. Raising the head of the table, Sara eased me back against it and ran to get an ice pack which she applied to my shoulder.
“Does this happen to other people?” I asked. “I’m not the only weenie, am I?”
“Oh, no,” she assured me. “Since you’ve just taken your pain meds and are obviously excited about your first session, it is perfectly normal. I’ll tell you what — we’ll let this be it for today,” she said, handing me two sheets of paper with photos and instructions for completing my homework and walked Jeff and me up to the front to set my next appointment time.
All in all, even though today was only the beginning of Physical Therapy “boot camp”, I came out of there feeling not only thankful to have completed my first session but, also, pretty proud of myself. Within the three weeks since surgery and even the hellish second week of 2017 when I hollered a lot from the pain, I knew I had come a long way within a relatively short time period.
Last Wednesday, not only did I get the staples removed from my shoulder incision, I also got to ditch the stabilizer that weighed down my sling for two weeks. Jeff and I had even been able to take little outings where we walked around. What’s more, I have already been able to slack off on my meds since last Wednesday after the PA said I no longer needed to take them around the clock, but could take them on a PRN — Latin for pro re nata or “as needed” — basis. While I still need my Tylenol with codeine “fix”, I have just about cut out the need for Tramadol which I had taken regularly, four hours apart, since I got out of the ER on New Year’s Day.
My next session is this Friday, February 3. I expect Daniel will be back to put me through the paces and to see how well I have done on my homework. I, for one, intend to be one of his biggest success stories. Tune in for “Breaking My Left Wing: Reporting for Rehab — Day 2” coming to a computer, tablet, or Smart Phone near you.