Thursday, January 31, 2008

Learning the Hard Way

About a month ago, I was at a bit of a crossroads in the physical therapy for my shoulder. There's this guy, Larry, whose job it is to push, twist, and stretch my right arm in an unnatural direction and then hold it until election day. I had always heard that you should listen to what your body is telling you and trust it. Well, my body was screaming in my ear that Larry was a sadomasochistic fiend.

Conveniently for me, circumstances conspired to give me time to assess this opinion. My work schedule was altered due to semester exams, then there was the Kansas trip, and then I got sick for a week. I ended up skipping a bunch of therapy appointments. The pain that Larry had inflicted upon me subsided somewhat and I smugly thought that I was right about this deal. But then I noticed that I was losing some range of motion - not good, since this was part of the reason I had the shoulder scoped in the first place.

I returned to the rehab place on Tuesday and practically had to re-introduce myself. I went through the solo drills and noticed they were significantly more difficult than I remembered. Then, because Larry was off (yeah!), the owner of the joint, Randy, took over the job of manipulating the arm. Well, it didn't take long before Randy had me begging for a phone to call Larry and apologize. If Larry is a 747, Randy is the Concorde. I try not to show my pain, but trust me, there was weeping and gnashing of teeth...and Randy cared not one iota. The whole idea, he said, is to break through any scar tissue and also to keep any more scar tissue from forming.

When Randy finally tired of my whimpering and allowed me to leave, I noticed how much more free the shoulder was. I did my personal exercises at home that night and again last night. I returned to therapy today and got the usual torture, this time from Larry. Again, I walked out with a good looseness in the shoulder even though I had been in agony just minutes before on Larry's table.

So, I guess these folks know their craft. I've realized that P.T. may be one area where one shouldn't necessarily listen to one's body, but instead turn a deaf ear.

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