Joe came out to call me back to the Physical Therapy clinic’s inner sanctum. He was smiling, but his face fell as I got up and walked toward him. “Oh no! You’re limping!” he exclaimed.
“Good morning, Joe,” I said. “Yeah, I am.”
In his office, he looked over my chart. “Looks like Dr. H cut you loose.”
“He did. He said he was stumped.” I sighed, unable to hide my frustration. “Basically, he gave up on me.”
Joe gazed at me. “Well, I’m not giving up on you. So how about we get busy.”
We went over the stretching exercises he taught me last week. Silly me, I’ve been doing the standing exercise incorrectly, so, chuckling, he showed me how to get it right. That done, he hooked me up to a TENS machine with a heavy-ish heat pack on my left (the sorest side) hip for a 15 minute session. My, that felt strange. But good, too. I nearly fell asleep; I only managed about two hours of sleep last night. If he’d turned the light off, I would have, in spite of the fact that the hip I was laying on hurt like a son-of-a-gun. Joe followed the TENS treatment with 15 more minutes of ultrasound. And, when we ran out of time, he told me that from today on, until he tells me otherwise, I walk with a cane. He wants me to give that left hip a break.
He also wants me to avoid stairs. I gave him a wry smile. “I’m taking care of my mother at her home right now,”I said. “The bedrooms are all upstairs.”
“Well, try not to go up and down more than you absolutely need to, then.”
I promised him I’d do my best.
To my relief, Joe set me up for three more PT sessions, each a week apart. So next week, we’ll do TENS and ultrasound again, and he’ll show me how to use a foam roller. And maybe, depending on how I’m doing, more stretches.
He also told me to try my TENS machine at home. Three times a day, both hips, 15 minutes each. It’s a good thing I don’t have an outside job right now.
He was very encouraging. And what’s more, when Joe said goodbye to me today, my left hip felt a bit better. The good feeling only lasted a couple of hours, but I’ll take it.
I’m not sure why, but I continue to be surprised by how much a positive attitude, on my part and on the parts of my doctors and therapists, helps. Attitude alone doesn’t cure disease or relieve pain, of course. But it helps. It sets up a positive energy. Smiles and cheerfulness are really beneficial too.
I know this. I’m a constant, probably annoying, advocate of the glass-half-full outlook on life. But sometimes, even I have a hard time maintaining it. After my gloomy appointment with the physiatrist on Monday, I really needed Joe’s smile and encouragement. And while I know it’s his job to be encouraging, I also know he wouldn’t be a physical therapist if he didn’t want to help people.
What a contrast to Monday’s doctor. Perhaps he, too, started out wanting to help people, but he seems to have lost his passion. Or perhaps because I’m not an athlete, but only a middle-aged, overweight and un-fit female veteran complaining of a rather common ailment—and I failed his treatment—he just got disgusted with me and decided I wasn’t worth his time. I may be overstating the situation, but that’s how he made me feel, and I didn’t much like it.
Thank goodness for Joe. Thank goodness he wants to keep working with me. And thank goodness he gave me some hope today.
P.S.: And thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to all of you who commented on my last post. Your words of kindness and support lifted my spirits right out of the hole, and I’ve taken your suggestions seriously, writing them down so that I can ask my rheumatologist about them this coming Saturday afternoon. (To my utter amazement, when I called I was offered an appointment with him this weekend! I’d expected not to be able to see him until late May at the earliest. See? I just must keep my outlook on life positive. Really, it’s on my side.) Anyway, thanks again.