Pain Therapy


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I’m slow just like an elderly person crossing the street, like any home turtle in the fish tank and basically similar to a suicidal giving up on life. Except, I enter the physical therapy office with an open mind and clear objective — to make gains, to obtain lasting results, to prosper and to walk on two feet correctly (again). I have a lot of work ahead of me, but that’s okay because I like work — and because what is life without work? Or sweat? Or tears? Or blood? Or pain?

And speaking of pain: I’m pretty aware that if they called it Pain Therapy rather than Physical Therapy — the majority of people wouldn’t show up. Related: This has been the most painful PT session (the 6th one so far) yet. I inhale and exhale like a pregnant woman giving birth wildly, but, with control. I shut my eyes tighter than my thermal water bottle, pinch my eyebrows together as in “what the fuck?”, grind my teeth with grit, mush my lips together in grumble and sometimes (whenever possible) I hunch my shoulders like a white collar man over a desktop — all because of pain.

Somewhere buried in my bones and muscles fibers, I’m frightened and I’m nervous about every PT session as if I’m starting a new job. But the fear remains in a way where I’m completely detached from it at the same time. I have a reason to be a scaredy-cat for each session there are unpredictable exercises given and new progressions occurring and of course — new pain to match. Today they measured my plantarflexion/dorsi and such and such with a Rulangemeter and a Goniometer. Trust, when I say it hurts when they hold my foot and bring it up to the measurement of where it’s supposed to be.

There are parallel bars where I’m to try and learn to walk again with as much equal body weight as possible without completely noticing the occasional shout from the aid saying: Bend your knee, don’t lock out. Control the movement. Then there are leg/tibia exercises and knee/hip/glute exercises all standing and putting full weight on my right foot and ankle. It feels highly uncomfortable like I’m stepping on stones, but I’m not afraid because I have to do what I have to do, and in a weird way I like pain. Plus, let’s face it, pain is temporary.

Then there’s my favorite, the thing that scares half my training wits — the wooden balance board. This one, I perform numerous exercises on. I dislike every one of them. Still, the bright side is it gets my knees to bend and it stretches everything out around the sides, front and back of my ankle along with my deflated calve. The only issue is, the pain is dangerously wicked, but with my training mentality, I’ve achieved my personal records already.

Then there’s me having to go up/down a step. There’s the prostep-prostretch where I squeeze my foot into it and have to move my foot up and down for a deep fucking stretch! Of course, there are ankle weights and more exercises and equipment I get to play and hurt myself with. Then more ankle exercises with manual resistance by my physical therapist (who I have a fondness for ah! — plus he genuinely says sorry when he senses the pain is unbearable on my face) and ankle circles and ankle pumps before I get my relaxing massage, electrode stimulations, heat and ice.

After all the drama calms down in the PT session, I digest all that has happened and how far I’ve come. I wish I could linger on those digestions. But I move on and take in how much longer I have to go. I dwell and dwell. Still, I’m thankful for my persistence, determination, stubbornness and self-made ego. I also enjoy when the pain and inflammation dies down, even though I know I’m going home to do even more exercises and be in pain all over again.

But more than anything, when I lie in the dark alone with thoughts to myself in the physical treatment room with towels wrapped around my leg in ice and heat — happiness seems to hide in the background and no matter how many times I push the thought out, it resurfaces again. I always go back to square one with: I can’t believe this. I can’t believe I’m going through this. I can’t seem to shake off this shock.

-Pennington

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