I want to preface today’s post by saying I’ve been extremely fortunate to have great physical therapists post-car-accident.
It has been a very long (almost 7 year) road.
My last (ninth!) surgery was just six months ago.
The challenges on my journey have been too numerous to count.
On Tuesday, I had a rough day at PT.
(Tears might have happened all over Paul Newman’s shirt. Kudos to him for being so quick to hand out hugs and tissues.)
By Tuesday afternoon, hugs aside, I had decided to quit PT.
If you have followed me for years, you know deciding to quit PT wasn’t an infrequent thing in my early post-accident years.
It was a horrific time filled with horrific pain.
I went through surgery after surgery after surgery … followed by a few more surgeries.
I wanted to quit and run away from PT all the time.
“I quit,” I used to tell The Torturer (my physical therapist during my worst post-accident years) on a daily basis.
Sometimes I even stomped my foot when I said it.
“No. No, you don’t,” he’d answer.
(I made that man work hard for his money.)
This Tuesday, however, I didn’t tell anyone I had decided to quit PT.
I wanted a few days to think about my decision.
And think I did.
I thought about what I was like the day (last October) when I first met Paul Newman.
I had regressed substantially from where I was when The Torturer and I parted ways.
I could barely move.
My pain levels were sky rocketing.
I remember Paul Newman turning his dazzling Paul Newman eyes on me and asking if I was willing to commit to teeny-tiny baby steps of progess without quitting and giving up.
(I said yes, of course. There isn’t a woman alive who can say no to Paul Newman when he dazzles you with his full Eye Power.)
But, I put a qualifier on my affirmation.
I needed him to commit to not giving up on me, too.
I couldn’t bare to give my full trust to a PT again if they weren’t going to also commit to helping me
forever long term.
We made a pact.
And, now it’s 8 months later.
I’m nowhere near “normal,” but my motion is better.
My daily pain levels are much better.
My pain flare-ups are less frequent, and (most often) less severe.
There is no question, I’m in a much better place than I was last October.
Thinking back to where I was when Paul Newman began treating me,
Made it clear to me.
I have nothing to gain by quitting.
In fact, my greatest fear is regressing.
I absolutely can not go back to where I’ve been.
It was a terrible place.
I still felt the tug of wanting to quit PT, but
I also realized I need to stick with it.
Even if I never move forward one more teeny-tiny step.
PT with Paul Newman keeps me from going back to Pure Hell, which was a very bad place to live for so long.
But then –
Yesterday, I spent some time with The Torturer.
It was a social visit to get caught up on each other’s lives.
We talked about … well, everything.
It was a very nice visit.
As we parted, he asked me to show him how much I can now lift my arm.
My arm had not been a part of our discussion during our visit.
I hadn’t expected him to ask me to show him my arm mobility,
(I’m sure it was impossible for him not to be curious after taking care of me for so long.)
I hesitated and lifted my arm out to the side as much as I could.
And in that moment, I felt like a total failure.
I know he didn’t intend to make me feel bad.
He was, understandably, curious to see how far I’ve come.
I felt failure.
How many times did I do this exact thing when he was my PT?
Am I even at the level I was when we parted ways?
I’m better than I was “after my post-Torturer regression.”
But, have I simply gotten back to where I was a couple years ago?
I could see it in his eyes.
I could feel it in his hug good-bye.
I’m so discouraged.
I’m a physical therapy failure.
And this is it, isn’t it?
The biggest challenge is finding the fortitude to continue when you just want to crawl in a corner and give up.