Quotidian Physical Therapy Update 2.9.b.ii

I woke up this morning really sore from Physical Therapy yesterday. It’s weird. It doesn’t seem like the exercises are anything, but they are a lot and it’s an hour of them. I also woke up disheartened by the whole thing. Apparently, over the years, the damage happened to my hip and other factors also added their own unique components to the mess I’m in now. The last few years before I moved here were necessarily, and unfortunately, comparatively sedentary — I was teaching 7 writing classes and driving at least 45 minutes to and from school every day. What that amounts to is not much time to do anything other than sit — sit grading papers, sit working on the online interface with students, sit constructing slide lectures, sit driving the car. Most of the time, my daily exercise was just walking to and from my car on the way to classes. It wasn’t a life I liked, but I needed the money.

When I came back to Colorado almost 4 years ago, I could barely walk two blocks, and I could barely lift my leg to get into the bathtub for a shower. And, without my noticing it, my body had kind of frozen in a sitting position resulting in the shortening of my thigh muscles and tendons. Add to this a bad knee and a hip heading south, it wasn’t good. In addition to the sitting position (bent over) my body had also learned to protect me from the pain caused by deteriorating joints.

There’s no way to say to your body, “Body, dude, here’s the deal. I HAVE to sit all the time if YOU’RE going to have a roof over your head and food on your plate, OK? I’m sorry, but since that’s what I have to do, I’d really appreciate it if you’d just stay in decent physial condition until things change.” It doesn’t work that way.

My body was trying to say stuff to me, too, like, “Martha, dude, I’m having a pretty hard time here. The bones in your left leg are grinding on each other at the joints. I don’t know what you plan to do about this, and I’ll try to keep you moving. Still, I think all this really deserves your attention, like NOW!”

I got the idea yesterday from my therapist that I have a long road ahead of me, longer than I thought. “I don’t know if we can do this,” he said, “it’s a lot of stuff to work on.”

I just answered, “Well, maybe that’s why Dr. S mentioned surgery in three months.”

“That makes sense,” said the PT.

I have to keep at it. I have to think about what I’ve accomplished already and not what’s left to accomplish (maybe).


Along with me at physical therapy yesterday were some really messed up people, so messed up that I thought I had no business being there at all. It hit me really hard how lucky I am to be up and walking. My little walks with my beautiful dogs would be impossible for the people sharing the space with me yesterday afternoon. They probably don’t even DREAM of a mile walk on a flat trail in the sunshine along the Rio Grande.

In the face of all that, the therapists have to remain optimistic and upbeat even with patients whose problems result from self-destructive behavior, with frightened patients who have had serious strokes or very radical surgery that takes a long time to heal.

I’m the lucky one. If NOTHING happens and I DON’T get surgery, then I could be in pretty bad shape in a few years (or dead from not wanting to live like that). But NOW I’m strong, ambulatory, motivated and have every chance of succeeding in this enterprise, even though it will probably, ultimately, result in two joint replacements. I have the best doctor, I live in a beautiful place that makes my heart sing and where rehab will be a joy, I have friends who love me (and whom I love), a PT I trust and like, I have good insurance and I know it doesn’t matter materially if I’m disheartened today. What matters is that I go do what I have to do. My stability ball is pumped, even if I’m not. πŸ˜‰

27 thoughts on “Quotidian Physical Therapy Update 2.9.b.ii

  1. Attitude is everything, isn’t it, Martha? I have a shoulder injury that I feared would require surgery to repair. Fortunately, I, too have good insurance and lucked out with an outstanding orthopedist who encouraged me to consider surgery as a last resort followed by an outstanding PT who had me feeling better & discharged to a home PT regimen within one month! Good luck!

    • Attitude is everything. Today I just feel defeated, but I might just be tired or coming down with something. BUT later on this afternoon, when I’m done with what I have to do, I’ll feel better.

      The thing with joint surgery is that there comes a time when there’s no choice. I’m very glad for you that you are not there, though, at the same time, when you ARE there, it is a very great thing! πŸ™‚

  2. You are very, very lucky that with therapy and the right surgery, you CAN be fixed. I know it doesn’t feel like that a lot of the time because you’ve got a lot of work and pain before it is better — but you can do it. You want to do it, too and that really matters.

    Not everyone can be fixed. I would do almost anything to get my spine to work.

    • I know I’m lucky — and I also know that I worked hard to set up a future for myself that made this possible.

      I don’t mind the work. And it does hurt, it will hurt more, and it’s a little scary. I have to go slowly and maybe the surgery won’t even happen as soon as I want. Understanding more, as I do now, I’ll wait until my body is ready to heal well and the whole thing to work. I think that’s the purpose of my appt. next month, to see how I am at that point and talk about when. But I’m not going to pick some arbitrary day if I’m not going to be the best possible patient with the best outcome.

      I don’t know. Inside me is a knot of confused emotions that have no outlet at the moment. I’m happy (deeply), I’m scared, I’m sad, I’m humbled, it’s just a big mess. πŸ˜€

  3. Hard work undoing the effects of hard work. And, despite the tedious and apparently never-ending process of detangling and rebalancing all the muscles and connective tissue, it is amazing at how much improvement can occur. Fun, not necessarily. Exciting with the potential for improvement–yes.

    • I just spent the last hour and change working on it. I feel like it’s a huge apology. Part of it is awareness. On Tuesday we discovered I can’t hold my arms over my head. Well, OK so I hold my arms over my head while I ride the airdyne. It’s going to be great, I know it. It’s OK. My body has been really good to me all my life, I owe it a large percentage of the joy I’ve known. ❀

  4. It’s amazing how much the attitude has to do with our readiness for the corrective work that needs to be done. I had an pre-op appointment with the eye surgeon earlier this week — in conversation with the surgeon, I made the comment that I’m at a point of being ready to tell everybody to stay away from my face! He graciously backed off, explained that he doesn’t like to operate if it’s not necessary (he feels it’s not at this time, although the optometrist wants me to go ahead with it), and told me he doesn’t charge for the operation for at least a year after the cataract surgery! For a minor enhancement, this was completely appropriate (although I’m now beating myself up for being so blunt!). When I see the optometrist next week, I will explore the options, and probably delay this surgery until my entire face has healed from all the assaults it has endured over the last 6 months (the mohs was done after I last saw her, and will take 6 weeks to heal completely!).

    • I guess there are two points of view here — one, get it all over with and have people stay away from your face into perpetuity, or put it off. πŸ˜‰

      In my case, I just want it to work WELL. Whatever that ends up taking, I’m down for.

      • Of course — and I happened to hit a day when I was really down about the healing issues. I think it will be better to wait until I don’t have tape on my face pulling things out of shape, and until the eye has basically healed and may not need the surgery at all!

  5. I guess this is the part (and the immediate post-surgery) that you weren’t looking forward to. I hope you see some early improvement, Martha. Everything is possible when you can see/feel a modicum of good progress.

  6. I think your therapist is gonna do fine with you, Martha. You have the motivation and he knows the moves to keep you motivated. Attitude means so much. It is so easy to go into that dark place, but as you say–there are some really messed up people out there. You don’t want to be one of them.

  7. You have both, Martha! In spades! Otherwise you wouldn’t be here, you’d have given up a long time ago. Your a fighter and you have much to live for and enjoy, those hikes you mentioned wanting to take. I hate the little steps that end sometimes end up two forward and one back making the progress a longer process. xoxo

    • Thank you. ❀ You're totally right. I wish I knew what and why there's a little thing in me that clings to life. I was 4 pounds when I was born. I nearly died four times as a little kid/baby and a couple times since. But here I am. It would be great if we were born with explanations and instructions! πŸ™‚

      • And WHY? That’s the big mystery. Life has been a surprise and a gift for me — damn, I want to do the right thing. Maybe it’s nothing more than loving Bear ❀

      • I wonder our “grand purpose” there has to be one or why else would we fight against all odds to live? Maybe we never see what we did, what our gift to those in our lives and the lives we touched was. Maybe it’s finding and giving, not ever knowing. I wonder about this quite often.

      • I often wonder if we’re meant to know what it is. I’d like to think mine has been adding knowledge and support to those in need whether family or acquaintance. That would be a goal worth shooting for. In your case, having been a teacher, I’m sure you touched the minds and hearts of a few students, if not at the time, perhaps later, when life had happened, real life and they thought back to something you’ve said. A point made a thought a seed planted in furtile soil that grew later.

      • Yeah, there are some students πŸ™‚ ❀ I just don't know. It's an interesting mystery and maybe the whole point is persisting in discovering it.

  8. My wife (the RN) sez hip replacement is a piece of cake compared to the knee. Of course, we both need new knees.

    Should be able to walk with assistance within a week after. Should be able to notice pain relief at that time. Six months and you’ll be hiking better than a decade ago. A year later it won’t be an issue unless you decide to play rugby.

    Had a friend with a double hip replacement. He’d been “sedentary” for years too. He said the pain was gone the very first day. After a couple months he was back to doing line dancing.

    • I’m looking forward to it. Four years of a mostly sedentary life before moving here didn’t help. Of course I thought getting moving would be the same as it was when I was younger, but no. πŸ˜‰ I had hip resurfacing in the other hip in 2007. Much more complex surgery, awesome results. When the market went south in 2008/09 and state employees in CA were furloughed and prices went up — particularly for petroleum products — I was in deep excrement financially. Almost lost my house. I swam out of it and that’s the main thing. Anyway, I’ve heard the same from docs re: hips vs. knees. I need (ha ha) a knee, too, but the hip comes first.

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