Balls, Torturers, and Re-Learning Life

I’m learning how to roll a ball.  Before you laugh … I have to tell you that it isn’t as easy as you might think and, in fact, I flunked Ball Rolling 101 last Friday.  I’m fairly pathetic actually and I am thinking I might need someone to videotape my ball rolling efforts just to prove to you how true this is.

I think that I have spent more time at rehab these last 2 years than I have in any other single place.  No, not alcohol or drug rehab … physical therapy.  (Although enough physical therapy could send you right to alcohol or drug rehab!)   The place is an amazing real-life soap opera and how I wish I had started blogging the whole experience two years ago.  For those of you who are new readers, I was in a car accident about 2 years ago and have gone through 5 surgeries and lost the use of my dominant arm.  I’d really like to be able to brush my hair and blow dry it with my right arm again someday.  There is a lot of great writing material at PT (my home away from home).  Some of it is difficult to write about though because people from PT read my blog and I know I’m going to hear about it when I walk in each day!  But the fact is, some of those PT stories are going to make it onto these pages because it is simply where I spend so much of my time. 

Over the last two years I have tried to maintain a positive attitude and manage my way through this hellacious experience as best as I can.  For the most part I think I have done this – at least on the majority of days.  I am human though and I have had my days of no patience, of unbearable pain, of tears, of anger and frustration.  My PT, The Torturer, has taken the brunt of this I guess.  Whenever I start to slide into a pity party he gives me a swift kick in the ass and that’s the end of that.  He’s not real big on pity parties.      

I’m sure I am The Torturer’s favorite all-time patient.  I just know it.  I say this because I have known him for many years and I know that he doesn’t mind in the least my occasional tears, tantrums, cuss words, name calling, etc.  There just possibly may (?) have even been a time or two when I actually gave up and didn’t show up to an appointment only to get a phone call telling me very calmly to get my ass back into PT … NOW.  But really, I am the BEST patient most of the time …. 

Nearly 8 weeks ago I had pretty much everything rebuilt in my shoulder by a new doctor and now I am trying to get my arm to work.  Mind you, it hasn’t worked in about 2 years so it no longer knows how to work.  I am walking 4 miles most days with strict instructions from my doc and PT to "just try to let your arm swing while you walk".  Getting my arm to swing when I walk is progress – that tells you how bad it is.  I sit in THE CHAIR (a rehab torture chair!)  when at home and it moves my arm for me for hours upon hours.  This is in addition to living at rehab.  One of the PTs told me it is like treating a stroke victim … I am starting over with zero capabilities.  I might add … I am not a super patient person.  I want the damn arm to work now!  So that brings me to ball rolling.

I was really excited to try something new at PT.  They only give you new things when you are making progress.  It is a good sign to "move up" to a new activity.  Since the big surgery 2 months ago I have mainly been in the "lay there and sob" mode while The Torturer forces my arm into inhumane positions.  So on Friday when he sat down on the floor across from me with a big, but very lightweight, ball I was thrilled.  I did a mental flashback to when my daughter, TR, was about 15 months old and we would sit across from her rolling a ball back and forth on the floor and she would giggle and giggle and scream, "Do it AGAIN!"  Yes, this is where I am … forty-something and learning to roll a ball like a 15 month old.  Re-learning life.  In two years they have never had me try ball rolling before, so this must be a good sign.  Besides, I knew I could do this.  Who can’t roll a ball?  Really? 

Apparently me. 

The Torturer rolled the ball to me and … big surprise – I rolled it back.  He scowled, he frowned and then he said, "NO… you did that ALL with your left arm, you have to use your RIGHT ARM."  For the 50 zillionth time I reminded him, "My right arm doesn’t work!"  (Wouldn’t you think he would REMEMBER THAT by now?!)  That got me an even bigger scowl and he said, "Do it again".  This time I really, really concentrated and I rolled the ball back to him again.  Never mind, that I kind of felt like my whole body convulsed as I mainly pushed it with my chest and left arm … I was trying!  The Torturer just stared (glared?) at me.  Sometimes I wonder what goes through his mind.  Right then I imagine it was something like, "No one told me she is Special Needs too!"  The Torturer tried a third time, then rolled his eyes and gave up.  I felt frustrated.  I felt pathetic.  And all weekend I kept wondering  -when will I get a chance to roll the ball again?         

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