Thursday, April 19, 2012

PT Followup

I've seen a few comments from my mom wondering about how Physical Therapy went, so I should really do my followup.  I'm really terrible about calling people (even my mom) and sometimes, if it weren't for this blog, family would really be out of the loop!  (Sorry, family.)

Basically, the experience of going was pretty good.  I got lost on the way because they gave directions to get there in proximity to an AutoZone store ... on a road where there are two AutoZone stores within a mile of each other.  Very confusing.  But they were gracious when I walked in late and explained and didn't make me reschedule.

My therapist, Stella, was a middle-aged Vietnamese-American woman.  She was very friendly and chatty in all the right ways.  She asked me a lot of questions about the family and our kids -- you know I love talking about our kids! -- and she ended up telling me I have a really good soul.  How sweet!  I loved her immediately.  Genuine flattery will get you a long way with me.

I switched into my gown after probably 15 minutes of just talking.  Then she made me do all kinds of dog-tricks.  No, they were some kind of evaluation about my range of motion.  But she was clearly impressed with how flexible I was (thank you, Mom, for those genes).  I don't think she expected someone my size to be able to touch the floor, legs straight, hands nearly flat on the carpet.  She also had me arch backwards and actually had to tell me I'd gone far enough to demonstrate and I hadn't even bent all the way back to my limit.  She kept saying, "Wow!  You are incredibly flexible!" and things like that.

Finally, she had me lay face-down and she checked various spots in my back where I wasn't sore anymore to tell her where I hurt.  Um, nowhere.

She had me flip face up and she felt around in my lower back and showed me where my muscles were tight on the right side, compared with my left side.  My pain (at the time when I was still in pain) was mostly centered, but slightly to the left.  She explained that I felt pain on my left because it was compensating for the tightness on my right.

Then she stuck her thumb or her knuckle in that tight spot on my right, lower back.  And sat there like that for a long time.  She continued talking to me about family and I started to feel like maybe she was more than a physical therapist.  I found myself opening up about things I wouldn't normally talk about with someone I was meeting for the first time.  Like it was totally normal.  And her thumb/knuckle was still there.

Finally, she said, "Your muscle is starting to quiver and relax a little."

At that point, I started feeling weird pulsing pains in the front of my right thigh.  I told her about it and she said, "Oh, that's because your thigh nerve-endings are all in your lower back.  So as your muscle relaxes there, it's triggering responses in your thigh."

I had to take her word for it because none of it made sense to me.

She moved her thumb/knuckle in towards my spine and there we sat for another long, long while.  I felt like I had a big rock under that side of my back.  She wasn't rubbing or massaging or moving at all.  She just sat there like that patiently, waiting for my back muscle to quiver.  A little strange and I felt really worried that her hand was going to go to sleep under my weight, but she just kept chatting away and asking lots of good conversational questions, while my thigh continued to pulse with sharp pains.

Finally, she said it was relaxed enough and she gave me a packet about correct ways to lift and bend and stuff and she said I probably don't need PT, but she thought maybe I would like having a couple more visits just as a break from the kids.  Ha!  (Clearly, she's not really thinking about how she's a "specialist" by my insurance standards and I'm paying out of pocket to meet the deductible.)

She scheduled me for two more sessions, but I'm fairly likely to cancel those, even though she was so nice, especially after what happened next.

I walked around a bit and everything did seem surprisingly better.  I didn't go there in pain or discomfort, but somehow, I left feeling improvement in my lower back region.  Go figure.

But a couple hours later, I started feeling mild pains on my left side of my lower back again.  Much like the way they started after that day at the pool.  And the next day, I was at Target and I nearly doubled-over in pain because the sharpness had returned full-on.

Apparently, my back works better when one side is compensating more and a little tighter.  She took what was working (even dysfunctionally) and broke it!  So sad.

It's better over these last two days, though I also suffered sore ribs from coughing and stomach flu on Monday and Tuesday; then Wednesday, I woke up with a kink in my neck and couldn't look right.  I'm falling apart, I tell you!  But I'm not done for yet.


  1. I really don't know what we are supposed to do with physical therapy! When I had mine, I just felt like I was wasting the theripists time. He was very nice. He gave me a list of exercises to do at home. He explained the exercises, but when I got home I couldn't remember how I was supposed to do them exactly. Oh well!

  2. That reminds me, I can't forget to cancel my appointments!