My sister, Martha, is a physical therapist. She has magic hands. She can always make me feel better, when I’m hurting. When I visit her, one of my favorite things to do is to go spend a couple of hours at her work. I love seeing all the different things she and the other therapists do with their patients and I love watching Martha because she is so confident and professional as she works her magic.
So why did it take me so long to go for physical therapy when I hurt my shoulder? At first I would pretend that is wasn’t so bad or that it was getting better, when in fact it was slowly getting worse. I tried massage and acupuncture for months, until I finally had to admit that they were not making it any better. I finally told my doctor about it and by that time I couldn’t lift my arm up and I had lost most of my range of motion in that shoulder. I had known several people who had to have surgery on their shoulders and I was afraid that I would have to do that too. I think that’s why I didn’t go to my doctor sooner.
When I finally did go to my doctor and confessed, he immediately ordered physical therapy for me. He told me that shoulders had the best response rate to physical therapy of all of the joints in the body. I was so relieved to find out that I didn’t need surgery. He recommended a therapy office, but when I called them they couldn’t take me. So they sent me to another office and that’s where I met my own physical therapy magician. She was actually not the therapist, she was an assistant. She also wasn’t a regular at that office; she was just filling in for several months for someone who was on maternity leave. So I felt that our coming together was destiny. She was tough and she wore me out in the sessions we had together, but in two months she got my shoulder working again. Her last day in that office was the Friday before Christmas. I was really sorry to see her leave, but by the time she did, my shoulder was well on the way to recovery.
I continued therapy for about a month longer. I loved going to the physical therapy office. I loved watching all the other people as I did my exercises. I was sad when they told me I was finished. I asked if I could just come back and do the exercises on my own, but they said I couldn’t do that because of insurance reasons. When I look back on that time, I feel kind of stupid that I didn’t just go to the doctor before my shoulder got so bad and get started with the therapy right away. I feel particularly stupid because of having a physical therapist in my family. That should have been the first thing I thought of, not the last.
I am dedicating this story to Dennis because he is starting physical therapy again and I kind of nagged him to do it. But I am a believer now and I hope that his therapist can help him as much as mine helped me.