Thursday, July 2, 2015

Lessons Learned (And Re-Learned) In Physical Therapy



There is so much more to P.T. than getting my body where it needs to be.

I'm learning a lot; about myself, the people around me and life itself.

Learning and re-learning so many things...

1. SOMETIMES YOUR BEST ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH. SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO DO BETTER. 

This was a tough one for me.  My best has always been good enough, that was, until I ventured into the journey of physical therapy.  I had a week where I was doing the best I could.  I missed a couple of appointments due to circumstances that were out of my control.  Unfortunately, the hospital has a policy and if I miss any more, I will  be discharged.  My therapist understood, but she has rules she has to follow.  For the first time I can remember, my best was not good enough.  I had to do better.

2. NO PAIN, NO GAIN.

This is an obvious one.  Every pain-filled, Aleve managed day has been followed by more strength than I had the day before.  My therapist told me, she hates seeing people in pain, but, as a physical therapist, if a patient comes in pain free, it's almost like she has to say "Well, let me see if I can change that."  It's really the only gauge as to whether you are building muscle or not.

3. COURAGE COMES FROM FACING YOUR FEARS.

I was terrified the first time I had to rotate my foot on the balance board.  I had this irrational fear that my hardware was going to snap.  That the screws would come undone.  All these crazy fears, even though I knew I was good to go and that I had to do this to get the muscle to grow around my hardware.  The board exercises are now my biggest nemesis, but have also become my greatest source of courage.

I'm sure I'll get to this point.  Right now, I stand on one foot and hold onto some bars.
30 times back to front, left to right and rotate left, then rotate right.
(Photo courtesy of:  www.FootHealthCare.com)

4. PHYSICAL STRENGTH = EMOTIONAL STRENGTH.

And, along the same lines as #3 - once you become physically stronger, you will be emotionally stronger as well.

The idea of getting behind the wheel of a car, after not driving for almost four months was extremely overwhelming for me.  Once the boot came off, I was allowed to drive, but I experienced so much anxiety at the thought, I had to ask everyone to please be patient with me.

I knew it was because my left leg was so weak and that once it got stronger, I'd feel more confident.  And, sure as shootin'!  Once my leg became stronger, I was ready to get behind that wheel and embrace a little more independence.

5. A CHALLENGE IS SIMPLY THE UNIVERSE CHECKING IN TO SEE HOW BADLY YOU REALLY WANT SOMETHING.

Currently I can go up the stairs, slowly, changing every other foot, as long as I'm not carrying anything heavy.  Now, going down, that's a whole other ball of wax.  And apparently this is normal.  Going down the stairs involves a whole other process and takes more time to achieve.

Unfortunately, I am struggling.  My left knee is not bending when it should, or like it should.  My quadriceps are weak and so is my hip.  It's amazing to me that I can't get my leg to do what it is supposed to.  That I still have so much more work to do, even though my ankle has snapped back and is where the doctor and therapist want it to be at this point.

I have a whole new batch of exercises to help me deal with this dilemma.  In the meantime, I'm realizing that running up and down the stairs is something I really took for granted and I can't wait until I can do it again.

6. DON'T FORGET TO BE KIND, GENTLE, LOVING AND PATIENT WITH YOURSELF.

I really expect a lot of myself.  That's pretty normal.  I think everyone is like that.  But when things happen, like the scenario in #1, it's important to be patient and gentle with yourself.  So, your best wasn't good enough today.  That's OK.  Step back, take a deep breath, forgive, learn and take the wisdom into the next day.


7. SOMETIMES IT'S JUST NOT YOUR DAY.

Some days, no matter how hard you try, it's impossible to get a muscle to move the way it needs to.  I have had a pretty good run in PT.  Everything I have had to do, I have been able to do.  Sure, I might be super stiff and the first couple of reps are difficult, but I have always been able to work through it.  Until, that one day a couple of weeks ago.

No matter how hard I tried, I could not get my ankle to rotate to the right when I was on the balance board.  I was talking to it, swearing at it, closing my eyes to visualize it moving, trying desperately to get my ankle to "hear" the messages from my brain.  Finally my therapist butted in, "Sometimes it's just not your day.  And that's OK."

8. THERE ARE MANY ROADS TO EACH DESTINATION.

Finally, in conjunction with #7, if one thing doesn't work, try something else.

As I mentioned before, I'm having issues getting my left knee to bend when and how it's supposed to.  We switched to a shorter step.  We changed my right leg movement so only my heel was stepping down.  Now, we are doing a move that focuses directly on my hip, because I shared that it felt like I was "settled" in my knee and that was making it difficult to bend.

I'm standing sideways on the step and raising my right leg up and down off the floor, which forces my left hip to do the "lifting".  And, surprise, surprise, my left hip is getting stronger.  I'm not totally out of my knee yet, but it shouldn't be long.

****

Namaste,


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