In Physical Therapy It Pays to Keep Your Mouth Shut

 

Today I had one of my thrice-weekly physical therapy sessions with the gang over at the House of Torquemada.  It went rather well all things considered.

I have very nice professional people working with and on me.  But I have a tendency to tell them exactly how I feel.  While describing what hurts and where to a physical therapist is exactly what you should do…what you should NOT do is….

Tell the PT (Tyler the cutie) that the resistance on the exercise bike is way too low for you.  So for five excruciating minutes I pedaled up Mt. Everest and got nowhere but I did get burning thighs and not burning thighs in a good way.

Never tell the PT “Oh I’ve done this machine before – it’s a breeze”…because he will increase the weight from a measly 30 pounds up to 70 pounds in a heartbeat and you will do those extra set of 10 leg presses with sweat hiding under your bangs and a smile on your face all the while keeping up a light banter so as not to show this 20-something that you are dying slowly right in front of him.

Above all never, NEVER ask the PT…”have they added any exercises to my routine?”  Oh for the love of all that is holy….if you ask them that question and they HAVEN’T added a new exercise, well now you have backed them into a corner and they must add something new.  In my case it was this bizarre machine where I pulled levers back toward my body much like rowing a boat.  I didn’t want to row a flippin’ boat even if it WAS only 25 pounds.  I kept up my breezy banter and the sumbitch added another set of 10.

When will I learn?  Apparently never.  So when I return to PT on Friday I will have my brain fully engaged before I open my mouth and beg them to increase the weight because I can take it; I’m strong and I’m there to get better.  And, yes, they DO, indeed, call me their best patient.  They probably, behind my back, also call me a sadomasochist.  I know I have names for them…..bwahahahaha.

And they wonder why I fall asleep during my anodyne treatment?  Because I’m an old broad who should be in a home with a cabana boy wiping the drool off her mouth….not in spandex shorts doing extra reps for a hottie named Tyler or another cutie named Kris (that’s a guy and yes it’s Kris with a K) who actually gave me an exercise the other day that is simply designed to show the world my batwing arms flapping in the breeze.  Had he laughed he would have felt the excruciating wrath of the redheaded stepchild — she who puts up with nothing.  Nothing I tell you.

Okay I put up with physical therapy….but only because they’re cute.   Sigh…

If Two is Good, Why Not Three, or Even Five?

 

I’ve spoken on this topic before but it’s been a long time so I’m going to bring it up again.  There is no reason on God’s green earth that a razor has to have more than, at most, two blades, to shave a lady’s legs or underarms adequately.

Today’s razors with their three, four or five blades and that special ridiculous strip of Aloe on the top are the most dangerous tools of beauty since the original tweezer was invented — or perhaps going back to the curling iron…the one they actually put in the fire to heat up.

I mention this because I am in the painful process of attending physical therapy three times a week.  Frankly, even with the imminent arrival of shorts-wearing weather, I am not one to shave my legs on an every other day basis – certainly not daily — heck we’re lucky to get that hair off there once a week.  Why, you ask?  Because anyone who is looking that closely at my legs deserves to see what they see.  A little stubble doesn’t bother me.  It’s not like I have embraced the totally natural look of Mo’Nique who simply refuses to shave her legs at all.  I still have a problem with completely unshaven hairy gladiator legs peeking out from under stylish shorts or capris.

So prior to my physical therapy session the other day (which is given by Samantha this time, not my precious, cute Agador — and yes, I also adore Sam!), I dutifully went to the bathroom, retrieved the razor from the closet, sat down on the edge of the tub and began the chore of shaving my legs.  (And for those of you wondering…no you may NOT wear jeans to physical therapy – you must wear some type of sports fashion — I lean toward a longer lightweight sport pant much like yoga pants only not as long as yoga pants and not quite as short as biker spandex but made of the same type of material just not as clingy)  Therefore, shaving is de rigueur.   I don’t think it’s nice to make my physical therapist grab stubbly, prickly, hairy extremities if she doesn’t have to. 

Anyway…back to the tub we go.  Hot water, washcloth, soak first leg to soften, apply liberal amount of shaving cream and taking razor in left hand I made the first swipe up my leg.  Unfortunately when I reached my knee EmmaLou, the Golden Destroyer, came bounding in to the bathroom to see what I was doing.  I was distracted, jumped, and as I jumped the razor slipped sideways thus forcing all FIVE flippin’ blades to come into contact with my skin resulting in a cut the likes of which I thought would require a tourniquet. (Now I should explain that I usually use a two-bladed razor but for some reason known only to God and Target the last time I picked up razors I ended up with a package of men’s Fusion razors and they do indeed have FIVE blades.)

It bled.  It bled.  It bled.  I continued to shave.  Shave a little, press the washcloth against the cut to keep the blood from running down my leg.  Shave a little, repeat the washcloth routine.  Then on to the other leg while simultaneously holding washcloth against first leg which was still bleeding out pints of my life into the bathtub.

The moral of the story is that more is not always good.  I will never use that razor again because the next time I might die from loss of blood.  And I will pay closer attention at Target to the razor section to ensure I buy plain old Bic two-bladed ladies’ razors. 

Oh…the final indignity of it all?  I could not get the bleeding to stop and was reduced to using Devoted Spouse’s styptic pencil and I KNEW AT THAT MOMENT THE TRUE DEFINITION OF PAIN.  Pain is not childbirth. Pain is not a herniated disk.  Pain is not a dislocated shoulder or a broken vertebra.   Pain is not the passing of the “watermelon out your derrierre”  from being constipated by taking two months’ worth of Percocet.  No, friends, true pain is derived through the use of a styptic pencil on an open wound.  Now I understand why Devoted Spouse does not like to shave.   The things I endure for my physical therapist…oh nevermind.  sigh…

Zen and the Art of Physical Therapy

 

Ya’ll know my history — my back from Hades — the new journey to physical therapy (especially if you read my recent posting on Cruella De Vil)  — visits with my adorable Agador again for the entire month of May, 3 times a week, in the hopes of getting me walking again more than a block without limping like I’m 189 years old.  The cane simply is not an option.  There, I said it.

As part of my physical therapy evaluation appointment last week, I was given the Wedgie thing (you already saw that picture I won’t bore you by posting it again….it’s nasty-looking anyway) and a list of specific exercises I must do several times a day with specific time frames to “hold” the exercise and the amount of reps to do.  Sounds easy enough.  Some of these exercises I already do, having picked them up from the last go-round of physical therapy.  Oops…found out I wasn’t doing them correctly.  When you do them my way they’re easy.  When you do them properly it hurts.  Ow.

So Wed evening I skip the exercises…I had somewhere to be and by the time I got home I was just so tired I had to go to bed.  Thurs would be time enough to start this exercise regimen and lay on this stupid pink Wedgie thing.  Ick. 

Thurs morning Devoted Spouse had gone to do his volunteer work.  It was just me and EmmaLou, Golden Destroyer, in the house.  I took my exercise handout, my cell phone (to time myself), my yoga mat, and the infamous pink Wedgie thing into the living room and I proceeded to get down onto the floor to do the exercises.  That was my first mistake.  Getting onto the floor means I am on the same level as EmmaLou and when I am at her level she interprets this as play time and what did she see as the closest toy available?  Oh yeah…my pink Wedgie thing. 

EmmaLou is running around the house with the pink thingie in her mouth and I am following her yelling “Treat!”   “Treat!”  like a lousy piece of dog kibble is going to get her to spit out the pink Wedgie.  No, this has become her favorite new toy and I am toast.  So I do what any smart fur-child mom does….I head for the sterilized bone and the jar of peanut butter.  EmmaLou drops the pink Wedgie in trade for the bone stuffed with peanut butter.  Whew – a tragedy is averted — I have my little exercise helper and off I trot back to the living room to start those exercises.

I hate to get personal here, but I was following the instructions and they bluntly say to place this thing at the top of the crack in your butt with the narrow end facing toward your feet.  Now that doesn’t sound difficult — but I’m here to tell you this is easier said than done.  You have to be on your side to begin with, with your legs bent — get the stupid thing placed properly, then roll onto your back AND onto this teeny little piece of foam that fits under the wedgie.  Four times I tried…four times I missed the foam completely.  In total frustration I held the wedgie thing AND the foam piece together, placed them the best I could and rolled onto my back. 

Oh dear Gawd I thought I would die from the pain.  Straightening out your sacrum is not a fun thing to do.  By that time EmmaLou had returned, reeking of peanut butter — she thought since I was still lying on the floor, it was play time and proceeded to nudge me.  “Stop it, I’m working with my wedgie.”  Thankfully no one heard me utter those words.  I made it through the 10 minutes, rolled over and got the infernal thing off my posterior and laid it on the coffee table.  Guess who reached over and gently picked it up and took off like lightning?  Oh yeah, EmmaLou.  I struggled to get up off the floor and we went through the abovementioned scenario again ending up with her receiving another healthy dose of peanut butter.

I still had exercises to do so back to the yoga mat I went.  I looked at the exercises and started doing them.  The pain was tremendous – there was no way I was doing 10 reps of this stuff – I barely made it through 1 full session.  But I am happy to report I got every exercise done.  Then I read the instructions again and discovered I have to do these things not once but several times a day.  This is going to be challenging.

Crap on a crutch – I think I’ll just duct tape the pink wedgie to my butt and leave it there – that way when it’s exercise time I’m ready and EmmaLou can’t run away with it.  Might get some odd looks as I walk through the store though.  sigh…

P.S.  Crone and Bear It is gonna take a little technology break for a few days — I have too many irons in the fire, so to speak.   I promise to return real soon.  Hang on – you can live without me for a few days.  Just think of me and my pink wedgie and that should keep you smiling until I am back online.  xo

Oh NO! Not Cruella!

Yes gang, I’m back in physical therapy once again.  This time the objective is to give me the ability to walk further than a block without limping and yelping from the pain.  So I marched (well actually I limped) myself to the same therapy place where last year they took such amazing care of my back and my shoulder.

I was greeted with hugs by my pt friends – hmmm wonder why they would remember lil ole me? 

My evaluation was done by a lovely lady who in fact is the head honcho of this orthopedic establishment.  She’s tiny, cute as a button and I wanted to slap her silly just for that fact alone.  But she is so danged friendly and nice, well, I decided she was my new bestest bud at therapy (with the exception of the ever-adorable Agador Spartacus).  They always laugh at my nicknames for them — because she worked me over so much in evaluating my situation I have decided she is now and forevermore to be known as Cruella De Vil without the dalmations.   

Even though I spent part of yesterday afternoon and this morning on icepacks, I must admit just from one session with her I am walking better.  She said my sacrum was sticking out on one side – that was the oddest thing I could imagine – in other words I’m just crooked, or as I told her…I’m kattywampus.  So she did her stuff, then I got my favorite Anodyne treatment (ahhhh….zzzzz….) and a set of instructions for home excercises to begin immediately (but I hurt whine, whine). 

And she gave me this:

Now I ask you…is that not the most obscene thing you have seen lately?  And if not, pls don’t tell me what you’ve been viewing.  It’s called a Wedgie – I am not making this up – a Wedgie.  The idea is you lay on this thing with it placed strategically under your sacrum (in other words kinda between the butt cheeks) and it helps to straighten out both sides of the sacrum and relieves pressure and pain in the lower back.  Sounds bizarre to me – but if this lady who had degrees comin out the whiz-wang tells me to do this…then this is what I will do.  I am a very good patient coz I wanna get better.

So – there you have it – more info than you probably need – but I thought I’d get you used to the idea of new Phys Therapy stories coz I’m sure I’ll have some fun stuff to share in the next month of therapy.  I’m tickled that they put me on the same team as before so I get my favorite folks and even though it is painful, we laugh and have so much fun. 

Cruella?  Gimme your best baby – I can take it…I think…off to exercise now.   sigh

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish

Thursday was my final session of physical therapy for my back.  I knew I wanted to do a blog about these folks but I have jokingly referred to them in the past – there’s of course Agador Spartacus (Paul), Officer Sam (Samantha), and my precious little Chunky Monkey (Steve) or I sometimes call him a cuter James Belushi.  Quick note to Steve:  Chunky Monkey is not meant in a mean way – on the contrary it is a compliment.  Why you may ask?  Because Steve has the most amazing personality and such a sense of humor and he’s silly and compassionate all at the same time — he can be an imp – and that’s close to chimp and well, he has this adorable little tummy on him (I know he’s gonna get teased about this – sorry swee’pea!) and my Devoted Spouse also has a little tummy and well, I just Looooove men with little tummies – so Chunky Monkey is a term of endearment. I just love the stuffin’ outta you, Steve.    Whew – got that one explained.  Now you all know why I call Paul Agador – it’s coz he reminds me of the actor Hank Azaria (although he just doesn’t see it)  and he’s just cute as the dickens (“clench those butt cheeks, Linda”)  (“kiss my butt cheeks, Agador”)  🙂    And  Sam is Officer Sam coz she really read me the riot act one day when I had overdone the activity and I could just envision her in the police outfit with the handcuffs (whoa up – don’t go down fantasy road) – but she cracked the whip on my activities is what I’m trying to say.  She is the sweetest lady around.

Anyway – these folks have gotten me through the painful rehab of a dislocated shoulder and then the painful rehab of a broken back and all told I’ve spent 9 months with them.  They became like family to me.  We laughed and we cried – okay I’m the one who cried.  Steve and Paul were always nice enough to say it was the lights up in the ceiling that were too strong and made my eyes water.  Simply said, I couldn’t have made it through this personal injury hell of mine without the tenderness and kindness of these folks – and that includes those who helped me with my exercises, Lori, and Kristen who always made sure I didn’t bang my head on anything or break any of their equipment.

So because I know my 6 faithful readers expect something at least slightly humorous from me I’ve decided to give all of you some of the wisdom I’ve gained from these past 9 months of physical therapy.  In fact I’ve made you a little list.

1.  Please bathe before you go to PT – they will make you exercise and to start out smelling bad and then sweat while exercising is just plain cruel and these people don’t get paid nearly enough to sniff your stinky body.  Shower first.  Drowning yourself in perfume is not the solution.

2.  The night before you go to PT kindly refrain from eating beans or any cruciferous vegetable, whether or not you have eaten a bottle of Beano prior to your meal –  trust me don’t eat anything that will cause your body to go into severe Toot-mode prior to your appointment.  These folks twist you, pull on your limbs, put your legs over your head at times, and contort your body in all kinds of positions that just begs to push out air — and when your PT is telling you to clench your butt cheeks, he’s talking about general muscles while you may be thinking I’m clenching and if you only knew why…   Trust me – no chili the night before – ever!  And no breakfast burritos either!

3.  Don’t b*tch at your exercise coach when she tells you to do 3 reps of 10 each.  Yes, it seems like torture and yes, it IS torture at times, but it will help you.  I’m just thankful my Drill Sergeant there (Carol) never told me to “drop and give her twenty” because there were times I felt she might do just that!

4.  Don’t think for one minute you can tell them you did your 3 reps of 10 when you’ve only finished 2 reps of 10 because these people are flippin’ psychic – they KNOW what and how much you are doing.  It’s creepy.  I learned early to add one or two more times on the bar or a few more leg pushes just to keep them happy — 5 minutes on the bike?   I always gave at least 6 if not more.  So there!  I did my work.  But they cruelly always turned the tv on to Regis and Kelly and the rest of us had to exercise while looking at the ripped arms of Kelly Ripa (who actually should be force-fed in my opinion and made to always wear long sleeves).  Talk about incentive.

5.  When they give you exercises on a nicely printed sheet of paper to take home and perform – do that — take the paper home, study it, and do the exercises.  Don’t wad it up and play ball with your dog.  He will get the exercise; not you.  Although there were times I looked at the paper and WANTED to wad it up, I never did.  Nope – I DID those exercises and I’m STILL doing them (I hate the new bridges Sam, whine, whine).  I sound like somebody’s mother when I say this and I can’t believe I’m going to say it anyway:  This is for your own good – so follow through!

6.  Don’t push them; don’t tease them; don’t piss them off.  These are highly trained individuals and they can put your limbs where you will never find them again – do everything they tell you and do it with a smile on your face.

7.  Always bring them something good to eat – they may live a healthy life-style but we ALL know an occasional blueberry muffin is good for the soul.

That’s my list and I’m stickin’ to it.  If you ever find yourself in my neck of the woods and you need physical therapy these are the folks to see – my friends at OrthoAdvantage – and now to introduce the team themselves:

PT dude

Hank Azaria look-alike Paul

Officer Sam

Officer Sam

Chunky Monkey/James Belushi but he lost the mustache YAY

Chunky Monkey/James Belushi but he lost the mustache YAY

So, that was my team – and I love them all dearly for their wonderful treatment of me.  I’m going to go do some exercises now and then eat some yogurt – oh joy, the life of a recovering broken backaholic is just one fun thing after another.  BTW if you don’t understand the title of this posting (and I’m really disappointed in those of you who don’t get it), go Google Douglas Adams coz you’re obviously not an enlightened fan of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

You Have the Right to Remain Silent…

arrested

No, that’s not me, but it might as well be.

You see Monday I went to my church fully intending to volunteer at our newest Food Pantry.  When I arrived I was told that all they needed was someone to lift the heavy bags of groceries and stack them on the shelves.  Well, gee, I can’t lift anything over about 5 pounds (at least I’m not supposed to) – so they didn’t need me at the Food Pantry,  I thought I could hang around and help sign people in, or pray for someone, but nope they weren’t interested.

Instead I was sent to the sanctuary to stuff the chairbacks with the little comment cards and pens.  Okay.  I don’t mind what I do as long as I’m serving.  At the time it seemed a simple task and a calming one as I was the only person (most of the time) in the sanctuary so I had time to think, pray, hum, sing a little and just enjoy serving.  What I didn’t realize was I was killing my back and leg muscles by bending, twisting, and the constant up and down motions between the seats.  I managed to get an entire section done – I don’t know how many chairs – I’m going to guess around 200 maybe?  Took me a couple of hours, but when I was done, every chair back had envelopes, two different types of cards, and working pens and they were all nicely arranged.  I was happy with my job, said my goodbyes and went home.

By last night I was hunched over and could hardly walk.  I was on a combination of icepacks and heat and I ended up taking several Valium and 2 Percocet before bed.  Yikes.  What had I done?

Tuesday morning I hobbled into the Torture Chamber of Horrors and saw the look of extreme displeasure on the face of my Physical Therapist.  I had to explain to her that I just sort of overdid the volunteer thing.  After doing my exercises, she worked me over good, pulling, pushing, twisting, contorting and pressing on sore spots till I was exhausted.  I fell asleep on the table while having an anodyne treatment.  But I walked out of there better than I walked in.

Unfortunately Queen Physical Therapist pretty much put me on house arrest for the next month.  There isn’t going to be any volunteering – I’m lucky she’s allowing me to attend upcoming classes at church in September.  So I guess I’ll have more time to study, craft, and relax with the occasional outing to Target thrown in for good measure.  But no more bending or twisting or lifting.  I now know what to call her – Officer Sam.  I had Agador Spartacus first, then Chunky Monkey, now I have the able ministrations of Officer Sam to get me back in shape.  And we only have 7 more visits under insurance in which to accomplish this task.

At least she didn’t cuff me…

You Want to Do WHAT to Me?

electricchair

My new physical therapist, who resembles one of those troll dolls and one of those Kitchen Witch dolls that used to be so popular, asked me to lie belly down while she gave me electrical stimulation.  I wasn’t sure I heard her correctly, and I looked up and said, “Excuse me?  You want to do WHAT to me?”  I thought perhaps seeing as it was very early in the morning and I had only gulped down a half cup of coffee there was a slight chance I was in the wrong place and something kinky was about to take place.

I hear and obey

I hear and obey

She smiled and explained calmly that she was going to hook up electrode thingies to parts of my back where my muscles were so tight and that this would electrically stimulate the muscles to relax them and also add heat to the area to help calm the inflammation.  Aha, I thought.  She’s going to use something similar to a TENS unit which sends electrical impulses.  Got it.  Understand.  No problemo.  Bring it on.

So Brunhilda proceeded to hook me up (literally) and then placed warm and heavy heating pads on my back and I promptly went to sleep.  That is until what I thought was a homeless man stumbled into the softly lit room and  climbed up on the table next to me and turned toward me and grinned.

hunchback

stop staring at me!

Ick-poo.  Dirty, hadn’t shaved, mouth hanging open, Neanderthal.  Cruel, but truly, I simply wanted someone to hook him up to the electrical thingie somewhere in his face so he would stop staring and drooling at me.   Gah.  I turned my head the other way and tried very hard to listen to the soothing music playing in the background (one of those classical CDs with the sounds of the ocean in the background — makes you want to both be at the beach and pee at the same time). But he kept making sounds like a dog with a bone stuck in its throat.  My twenty minutes couldn’t go by fast enough.  By the time I was done, Neanderthal Man had left the room and I was hoping not to see him ever again.  If he shows up regularly during my scheduled sessions, well, I’m going to have to do something about the calendar.

After the treatment there was some light stretching of my legs and feet and then Brunhilda wanted to do an ultrasound of my hip as there is quite a bit of pain in that area too.  Of course at the mention of the word “ultrasound” I’m thinking if she finds a baby dolphin  or heaven forbid worms swimming around in there I’m toast.  She patiently explained that this was a different type of ultrasound, that it was like a warm massage – and then she spread this warm lotion on my hip and started moving the ultrasound thingie all around my hip, and I promptly went to sleep again.  I’m seeing a pattern here.

The good news is when the session was done, I felt better.  I walked better and with less pain.  It is now late in the day and I still am feeling less pain than I did this morning.  In the words of the immortal Martha, “it’s a good thing.”  Still, I’m happy and looking forward to getting some good results from this round of physical therapy.  In all honesty I like Brunhilda, she’s a very nice lady and I know she will try her hardest to help me heal, but let’s face it…she’s no Agador Spartacus by any stretch of the imagination.  *sigh*

me soon I hope

me soon I hope

The only way I can sum it up is to say….I’m so excited, I just can’t hide it, I’m about to lose control and I think I like it.  Can anyone out there identify that line?