Thursday, April 16, 2015

Taking baby steps

Today was my fourth physical therapy session, and by golly I think it's a winner. My regular osteopathic physician referred me to a colleague because I asked about a brace to support my back, particularly when I cook. The brace expert was sort of off hand about the brace--any sacroiliac brace would do--but was much more concerned about my lack of balance and a recent fall (not the first). This time I landed on my left hip and really hurt it. He recommended physical therapy.
I have taken a few classes in my life--yoga, tai chi, and the like--but I really don't like them. I finally had private yoga tutoring at home. A workout was established and that's what I do. So I was resistant to the idea of physical therapy--and besides most programs are for sports injuries, which mine was definitely not.
The doctor's nurse scouted around, found a place not too far from my house, and I checked it out. From the outside, it didn't look inviting--and the lone handicapped spot was clear across an empty parking lot from the door. At that point, I couldn't have done it. So I let my fingers do the walking and found a place that interested me. It pains me to say that I'm in a program to rehabilitate the elderly so they don't fall--could we substitute senior citizens for the word "elderly"?
The people are kind, and though there are other patients there, and I get individual attention, beginning with wonderful, soothing heat on my back and then exercises that don't seem strenuous but are designed to loosen up my sacroiliac (which is apparently stiff as a board) and build strength in my legs. I am usually wiped out when I come from those sessions, and at first I wasn't sure it was helping. The therapist is a really kind young man, he keeps assuring me he won't let me fall, but I was tentative about the walking part, especially where he tried to teach me how to use the cane.
Today I think I finally got it: because I was afraid of falling, I was stiffening up and taking small steps--at one point I said I felt like I was doing the hesitation step and getting married all over again. What he wants me to do is lead with the cane and my weaker leg, take longer steps, knees bent, feet rising off the floor. When I said my goal was to get rid of the cane, he said that would happen but he wanted me to develop a loose, easy stride. And those were the magic words that gave me self confidence. I've been striding around the house all day, bending my knees and lifting my feet. It feels exaggerated, but I'm sure in time I'll modify that. But tonight I'm a really happy camper. Almost can't wait to go back Monday and report all this.
And my anxiety level has plummeted. What a wonderful transformation if happening to me.

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