I started physical therapy almost 11 months to the day after suffering a fractured 5th metatarsal. While physically capable of putting on a running shoe and walking, I was suffering from a certain level of pain and discomfort as well as fatigue and stress over the little twinges reminding me that I was not, and likely never would be, as I was before. After follow-up x-rays and hopeful words of encouragement from my doctors, most of the residuals were attributed to the muscle atrophy that comes with spending 11 months immobilized in an orthopedic boot.
For awhile (4 weeks), physical therapy was actually a family affair. Bella tore the cartilage in her ankle doing Mr. George’s leaps (jazz move for all the non-dancers out there), and my husband has a herniated disc at L5/S1. Naturally, Max came along for the ride…literally. We tried to stagger our appointments to limit his time in the gym since there is no fun in hanging around a gym and not being able to play on the equipment to a seven year old, but he made the best of it and the staff at Ivy Rehab in Franklin Lakes, NJ was amazing! After a few weeks of these family outings during which Max would valiantly declare that he was the only non-injured member of the family and Bella would remind him that “Karma’s a fish,” I had a bit of a revelation thanks in large part to my physical therapist Brian. One particular Tuesday evening we were all comparing notes on our struggles and the length of time it was going to take before we could return to normalcy. I could tell he was listening to our conversation while quietly tending to other patients and that perhaps he was indeed biting his tongue, wanting to jump in and choosing not to. Then he said the words that have stuck with me through every day, every setback and every painful workout and massage session…he said “you know, this is not a sentence.”
After looking at him a bit cross-eyed, it hit me. I knew exactly what he meant. I was so caught up in what I couldn’t do, that I had a really horrible attitude and I was sharing it with the world every chance I got. For example, Bella would say how hard a particular exercise was like towel curls (shudder) and I would chime in with, “well at least you’ll be done in a few weeks…I’m looking at months.” Every statement that came out of my mouth ended in a negative comment about how my road was longer and harder than anyone else’s in my family. Unlike mine, Brian’s words were not dripping with attitude or disdain, but rather with the compassion and care that we have all come to love him for.
From that point forward, I made a conscious effort to change my attitude and it has made a world of difference. I started finding joy in the smallest of victories and enjoying the company of my fellow sufferers. I started noting that the calf stretches hurt a little less each time (except for the day after I returned to heels -silly girl) and that the slider lunges actually made me feel like I was getting back into shape due to their semblance of a normal workout routine. Last night, I was at the gym with just my trainers and another patient and instead of feeling horrible about what I couldn’t do, I rejoiced in mastering the L-2 on the baps board with all of them there to support me and cheer me on. I’m moving up! I’m getting stronger! I can finally see and appreciate the road I am on and the lessons this journey has afforded me. I now understand that therapy, while sometimes difficult and tearful, is not a sentence. Rather, it is a doorway to wellness and I’m barging right through it!
If you’d like to join me on this wellness journey be sure to check back on Wednesdays and feel free to post on our Facebook page or send us a tweet if you have any tips or recipes that have helped you be successful on the road to wellness!