Debbie Downer Pays A Visit

Photography Fridays are becoming a semi-regular event instead of a weekly event, aren't they?

I had my "evaluation" at the hospital-run physical therapy facility yesterday.  I was dreading going, for many reasons.  I tried to keep an open mind about the whole thing, but I'd be lying if I said I wanted to be there.

The facility is huge and busy.  

When I first walked in I saw nothing but old men on treadmills and I cringed.

Don't get me wrong – I love old men.  They melt my heart.  I just felt very out of place.  I didn't feel like I belonged there.

I had a little talk with myself, within the confines of my own head.  

Do you ever do that?

I reminded myself that PT with The Torturer was like a second home for me, and of course no other place would feel the same.  I lived, for a time, six days a week at The Torturer's.  Of course, everyone at the hospital was a stranger and not my friend.  Of course, there was no Torturer to laugh and tease with and, of course, there was no nice J. at the front reception desk.

"Give it a chance," I told myself.

"No one here is laughing or smiling," my inner voice argued.

After filling out a million forms, and a short wait, The Divine Ruler showed up to escort me back.  I've named her The Divine Ruler because during my hour and a half visit with her she repeatedly told me "what the rules are" and frequently piped up with "and that's another rule for you to follow."

It reminded me of being in elementary school.

I think The Torturer would snort out loud at the thought of me following anyone's "rules."

Clearly, The Divine Ruler does not, yet, know me.

Divine Ruler escorted me past the large room with all the old men to another section of the facility.  I saw some younger faces in my new location and felt less out of place.  It was there I was able to appraise her.

The Ruler isn't tall, but she has a semi-athletic build.  She wears her long dark hair in a ponytail and has the look of a drill sergeant.  In an attempt to assure me of her kindness, she frequently touched me with a reassuring hand as we talked.

Divine Ruler was confused by my situation.  

Who wouldn't be?

We spent a good half hour going over my six surgeries since the car accident.  She couldn't keep them straight and I don't blame her.  I can't keep them straight myself sometimes.  

She tried to reassure me of how competent everyone is who works at the hospital facility.  I'm sure they are.  

"You're in good hands here," she said repeatedly.

I'm sure everyone who works there is nice.  

I'm also sure I'm not the first patient who has walked in begrudgingly, and without any real hope left to speak of.

She grimaced when she heard the details of one of my surgeries.  (My third or fourth – I don't remember which now.)

When we were done reviewing my history, she informed me she'd be calling my orthopedic surgeon to get a better understanding of my situation.

Fine ….

(Waving to Dr. S. if he happens to be reading today!)

Divine Ruler was very happy about the new medications from the pain management specialist.

"Excellent medications!" she exalted, when she heard what I was taking.

Everyone I know, in the medical field, seems to be telling me the same thing.  "It will take awhile for your body to adjust, you'll feel tired and really out of it at first, but in a few weeks your body will adjust and your pain will decrease."

So why has it taken four years for anyone to prescribe these meds for me?  

Is it possible, I didn't need to go through this level of hell in the first place?  I mean, it's been no secret that the nerves in my shoulder/arm area have been freaking out ever since the accident.  

The sense of starting.all.f*cking.over.again weighed heavily on me while I was going through my evaluation.  After reviewing my history, The Divine Ruler took measurements of my range of motion.  While she announced the degrees of motion cheerfully, I sat silent.

There wasn't much to be cheerful about with numbers like that.

"The Torturer would die if he knew how much of our hard work has been lost," is all I could think.  

Lost, lost, lost …. all that hard work – for nothing.

It was extremely discouraging.

We did very little in terms of actual physical therapy.  In fact, Divine Ruler informed me it will take a minimum of three weeks for the medication to build in my bloodstream to the point where it can start calming down the hyperactive pain impulses from my nerves.  She only wants to see me once a week until the meds can kick in so PT doesn't induce yet another flare up.

She talked a little bit about some of the things she'd be trying with me soon.  Every exercise/activity she mentioned was something I've done in the past with The Torturer.  Maybe she'll have some new things to try too, but it didn't sound like it.  That didn't surprise me … I gave up believing in magic bullets to fix me a long time ago.

When I left the facility, an hour and a half after I arrived, I was just … depressed.

I got to my car and texted The Torturer, "Can you talk?"

Apparently he texted me back and told me to come by and visit him, but I never got the text.

Later in the day he called me.

It helped to talk to him.  He has urged me to go to a pain specialist for a long time and is glad I finally have.  He had told me not to jump back into PT until my pain levels were under control, and so he agrees with the once a week (at most) PT visits until the meds kick in.  

He also acknowledged how difficult it is for people to understand severe, chronic, pain.  He reminded me, "No one can know what it feels like but you."

I know that only too well. 

More importantly, he promised me I'm not starting over even if it feels like I am.

Of course, he doesn't know how bad my range of motion is right now … but I appreciate the encouragement anyway.  I forced myself to think back to when I couldn't move my arm at all.  

No, I guess I'm not starting over completely.

And yet?

Every ounce of me is silently screaming, "I don't want to do this!"

Sometimes … life sucks.

© Twenty Four At Heart

18 Responses to “Debbie Downer Pays A Visit”

  1. Big Dot

    It can be so hard, starting somewhere new, especially when you feel so vulnerable, the pain is so bad and you’re not used to your new meds. Don’t expect too much of yourself – it probably took time to feel at home with the Torturer. Try to be hopeful, know that you’re strong inside, and take some comfort from the fact that we’re all rooting for you. Go to the beach!

  2. Mad Woman

    Oh geez. I so wish I could take away that pain for you. If for no other reason than so you could just take pictures comfortably.
    As Big Dot said, there’s a ton of us rooting for you. Keep working at it, but don’t let them push you too far!

  3. Karen

    Think of it as a step in a new direction AWAY from the horrible pain you currently feel. It’s progress! Not starting again, moving forward toward better days, less pain, more mobility. Turning over a new leaf, not the same one again and again.

  4. Michelle

    I agree with those above, but also with you.
    Yes, sometimes it does suck, big time.
    Remember, you are not starting from the beginning, but you are starting again in a sense.

  5. Jan

    Try to remember how bad it would be if you’d never gone to PT in the first place – what mobility you have is because of that. I’m glad you had a good talk with the Torturer.
    I’d give you a great big hug (and make you a sugar-free chocolate souffle) right now if I could.

  6. Linda

    Yup, sometimes life sucks. And then you get over it. I didn’t mean that the way it sounds. What I mean is you’ll get past this. I can not imagine how you feel but I do know that you will move past this. The alternative is unacceptable.
    Hang in there my friend. (((Hugs)))

  7. stacy

    Hi Suzanne- I hope you start feeling better. By chance is one of yr new meds, ultram? I ask this because I had this as a prescription recently but did not like it and I have like 100 pill left that i have no use for. Of course, sharing medicine is illegal and i would never do that.

  8. Kelly

    Life does suck a lot of the time. My heart hurts for you. This isn’t starting over though. Your post the other day had the correct title – it’s a new chapter. Of course you are discouraged and down – that’s NORMAL. Your reactions are what anyone’s would be. (Except mine, I’d be curled in a ball sobbing for four years.) Think about your camera. Think about the possibility of doing MORE. Think about not having to hold your breath because you hurt so bad. Your feelings right now are normal. You will get through this. You will show us, once again, how you are so much stronger than anyone else I know. xo

  9. Jack

    Don’t look at it as being a magic bullet. Just one step in making things manageable.

  10. Liz Tee

    You have a couple of weeks to coast before anything really changes. Just let yourself coast while you can. No thinking required yet – enjoy it while you can!
    (I wanted this to sound more reassuring but I haven’t had enough coffee yet.) 🙂

  11. Jenn in Tenn

    I can only say that I echo what everyone has already said. You can do this!

  12. Sandra

    I’d be depressed too. You go thru all this work for YEARS and it feels like you get very little back in regards to arm movement. Retelling your story to someone new SUCKS. She’s all positive thinking she’ll be the one to make a difference but you know better.
    Sure, you can see, now, what you accomplished with the Torturer because you see what you lost with months of no therapy. But in the true scheme of things even the amount of motion you had with the Torturer didn’t feel like much at all. You have this dream of full use of your arm. Your old life back. Why do things have to be this way? That F’n driver!@#$%$&
    Of course, I’m just assuming these are some of your feelings. I can never truly understand but I want you to know I can imagine, if only a tiny bit, what your thinking.
    On the positive side, you’re on your new drugs. It would seem these are going to be the “ticket” for your pain management. I truly hope they work magic.
    Your an accomplished photographer. I have your calendar in my kitchen!
    Summer is almost here. Someday the rain WILL end. And as always, we’re always here and happy to listen. You’ve touched many people by your writing and your story.
    The whore from California 🙂

  13. NeCole

    I know you are down and in pain, but I want you to know that you are helping me. My doctor gave me an order for PT several weeks ago and I’ve been scared to schedule it because I’m afraid they’ll hurt me more. But your courage makes me want to have courage too. Thank you so much for sharing, now I’m gonna get off my ass and make an appointment.

  14. di

    You have been at this pain for so long and solving it, I’m sure some of the meds you are now taking may not have even been on the market when all of this started for you. I’m just so sorry that someone as nice as you has to go through this over and over. I can tell it’s a downer for you, but don’t ever think that your blogging friends get tired of hearing about it. Some of us really care about you, Suzanne. Wishing you a pain free future.

  15. Cute-Ella

    You’re not starting over in so many ways!
    1. You have *some* range of motion which is better than before. No, it’s not what you had worked up to, but it’s some. And that’s more than none.
    2. You have some expectiation of what this might be like this time around to get back to where you were. It likely won’t be the same, but you’ve gone through what seems to be worst case scenario (without the pain management meds) so this time might be easier. If it’s not? That’s nothing new.
    3. You’re starting from a postiion of “less pain” where before they just drugged you up and hoped for the best. With the nerves “calmer” hopefully, you’ll not reach some of the pain levels you’ve had before.
    You don’t want to do this and that’s understandable. But you WILL do this. I know it.

  16. Linda Tustin

    (((hugs Sweetie))) Please stay stong.


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