I managed to hobble around for three weeks before deciding I needed to go to the doctor. His recommendation? Three weeks of physical therapy, and if there is no improvement, an MRI. I was really looking forward to my first appointment. I had physical therapy after I broke my collar bone and I still remember the heating and icing treatments, and the deep tissue massages administered by a young attractive pro cyclist named Matt.
I arrived and was introduced to Denise, one of the many all female physical therapists I would work with. She looked me up and down. “Next time, wear athletic shoes” she said after her gaze lingered on my black sparkly flip flops. I couldn’t imagine why I needed athletic shoes. I started to take in my surroundings. Holy crap, I was in a gym. My dreams of a green tea body wrap and pedicure flew right out the window. Well, there was one positive—I was on the young side of the other patients I saw. Good, I thought. If we are forced to compete against each other, I have an excellent chance of winning.
After measuring how much movement I had in my knee, I was led to an exercise bike. Ten minutes, she said. This didn’t seem like a good idea to me, but no one asked what I thought. I survived bicycling, and waited for my next instruction. That’s when I met my first of many elastic bands. She tied a length of elastic around my ankles and told me to walk sideways for forty feet and back again. I felt ridiculous—like I was walking the ledge of a building with pantyhose around my ankles. There was a man throwing a ball against a slanted trampoline and catching it. That looked like fun. Why couldn’t I do that? The next
Anyway, I was really encouraged when he told me to lie down on the table and he would get some pillows for me. I was still in denial, so I thought I was finally going to get my spa treatment. Next thing I knew, he had rolled a machine over to my table and started attaching wires to my knee. “This is going to stimulate your muscles with an electric current” is all he said. He turned on the machine and there was a fun little tickle going from one electrode to another. He continued turning up the current until the tickle had turned into a jolt. He said that the highest current I could tolerate would do me the most good.
Now, I have no explanation for what happened next. I didn’t know this kid, would probably never see him again after I was done my therapy, but I did not want him to think I was a baby, so I allowed him to turn it up until my leg was literally jumping off the table. He said he’d be back in ten minutes. I looked around for something to put between my teeth so I wouldn’t bite my tongue. When I wasn’t wincing, I watched the big clock on the wall. When I thought I couldn’t take it any longer, I looked pleadingly at the man on the table next to me. His leg was being iced and he was fast asleep. I wanted to sit up and yell WHO is this man’s therapist? How do you expect him to heal just lying there being comfortable? He needs the jumper cable treatment!
By my last appointment, I had gotten smarter. I would say the current was high enough, even before they turned on the machine. I no longer cared what they thought of me. When a young man asked if he could get me something, instead of saying “No thanks, I’m fine”, I asked for cucumber slices for my eyes. As I was leaving, my therapist smiled and said “Now keep up your exercises. You don’t want to come back here.” I smiled back. Ah, truer words were never spoken.