20 November 2010

Why I like my physical therapist

The physical therapist looked back at the last two months of therapy and then said, apologetically, "If it were anyone else, after two months of therapy, most people would be at close to 100%.  But, since you're you, I'd give it another 8 months or so."

I looked at him mournfully and said, "You're supposed to say, 'Since you're special', not 'since you're you.'"

He laughed.  He's a good audience, as I have mentioned before.  It's not that he's unsympathetic; it's just that he's limped down this long road before.  Last time, he eventually gave up, but I kept doing his exercises, and, after 3 times the amount of time it would take for a normal human to be over a flareup of plantar fasciitis, I wasn't limping all the time.  From the PF, anyway.

There is something to be said about working with a therapist who knows how screwed up my body is right now: it's very nice.  "Your body just doesn't know how to fix itself right now," he said.  There is no frustration on his part with how slow my progress is even though I'm doing the ^*#&ing exercises.  (That means I don't have to sense his frustration and get more desperate or wonder if he believes me about doing the ^*#&ing exercises.)

Why I like my physical therapist:
  • No false sympathy.  When I first started, he told me to do as many of this particular exercise as I could before the pain made me stop.  I think I did 4.  I asked him how many I should be able to do, and he said, "Normally, people can do 30 at a time.  2 sets of 30.  I can see why you have a problem tossing beanbags with that hip.  It's kind of pathetic."  Ahhhhh, refreshing.  I also can't lawn bowl, but at least I was smart enough not to try after the Bean Bag Incident.
  • No false projections of how fast I should be able to do these things.  What he said after the first visit.  "I think you can get back to close to 100%.  It's going to take a long time, but you'll get better."  When I asked him his definition of a long time, he said without hesitating, "10 months."  What he said about the newest exercise: "2 sets of 20 is a goal.  That you should reach for."  ("Not that you should die for" was implied.)  I can sometimes do 30 of the first exercise; sometimes I can only do 12.  After 2 months.  Seriously.
  • Real concern.  Since he knows this is my life, sees how exhausted I am, and has heard what I'm up against, he does what he can.  Last time, he tried to understand the neurological chronic pain thing because he wanted so much for there to be something that could be done.  (He may also have just agreed that I am a menace behind the wheel when I haven't had any sleep and hoped there was an alternative.)
  • Not worrying about depression.  It's nice to have one health care professional (or just one adult, really) in my life who isn't waiting for me to get depressed.  Or maybe worried about me getting depressed would be a better way to phrase it.  I mean, not that I blame the others; there are plenty of reasons for me to get depressed.  I just don't have time.  My PT is a man who understands pain and gallows humor and doesn't get all Concerned. 
  • I can almost always make him laugh.  The power.  I really need to not do that when he's twisting me into pretzel shapes to get my hips back into alignment.  He could break me one of these times, and I'd feel bad if I made him do that . . .
"You're kind of a mess," he said.  "When some things are too tight, some are too loose, some are too strong, and others are too weak, it's just a big mess.  But we will sort everything out.  Eventually."

I believe him.


  1. Awesome. A good PT is not to be undervalued.

    And for the record, I figure if you're not depressed already, you're immune to it or something, so I wasn't worried about it either.

    I hang out with you a lot just because I like you... does that make me selfish?

  2. If that does make you selfish, I suppose it's the mutually beneficial, tolerable kind of selfish. :) And apparently I'm that kind of selfish, too, so that make sit okay. Right?