“Time to punt. Your PCP did what he could for your shoulder and it didn’t help, so he sent you here,” summarized my physical therapist. “I’ve done everything I can do, but it doesn’t look like you’re getting better, so I’ll send your doctor a note saying, ‘Back at ya.’ It’s his turn again.”
I think I just failed PT.
Last time I did PT for my shoulder, it was extremely helpful. This time, not so much. In the past, I’ve really liked ultrasound treatments. This time, it hurt. The intensity would get reduced when I’d wince, but it still hurt at the lower setting, and would ache for hours after I left.
I’m glad I did the PT, though. I saw a different therapist this time, and although there was some overlap in the approach, there were a few differences. This person had extra exercises that weren’t prescribed last time, and there were a couple exercises that he explained differently. There’s also one exercise that I discovered I’ve been doing wrong all this time, and that’s now been corrected.
My shoulder no longer wakes me up at night, which I’m very happy about. That’s the only improvement, though. Nothing looked any better when comparing the initial and final evaluation tests, which is very frustrating.
The physical therapist is bouncing me back to my PCP, and I’m supposed to schedule an appointment to see him so he can figure out what to do next – which, the PT warns me, will likely be either another round of PT, or a referral to an orthopedist.* That’s me. WarmSocks, the human ping-pong ball.
Sometimes I just want to quit. “Never mind. I’ve had enough contact with the medical profession to last a lifetime. I’ll learn to live with it.” That thought lasts until I try to pick something up, or reach out to the side. I quickly realize that this is not something I’m willing to make accommodations for.
- If there’s something in the passenger’s seat, I want to be able to reach over and pick it up.
- I want to close my car door without pain.
- I want to be able to move the shifting lever with my right hand (it’s so awkward to reach through the steering wheel with the left hand and tug that lever upward).
- I want to wipe the dinner table after meals. I’m learning to do it left-handed, but it’s mighty frustrating to have such a simple task be so hard.
- I want to be able to vacuum my house. Sure, my kids are good at helping out, but I want to be able to do these things.
- If my children sneak up beside me, I want to be able to give them a hug regardless of which side they’re on.
- I want to snuggle with my kids and husband. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life saying, “That shoulder is not a pillow” when loved ones lean over to rest their heads against me.
- Have you ever tried to take wet clothes out of the washing machine with only one hand?
- I want to use whatever bathroom is most conveniently located, and not have to consult blueprints before relieving myself. (Nope, can’t use that bathroom because the TP roll is on the wrong side; my arm doesn’t rotate that direction.)
- I want to play basketball or baseball out in the yard with my family and friends. Normal, everyday things that I used to take for granted are now spectator sports. I don’t want to sit on the sidelines and watch life pass me by. I want to participate – with both arms.
So I’m not going to quit. I just need a breather before tackling the problem again.
Monday mornings tend to be pretty busy, so I’ll wait until after lunch to phone my PCP’s office and tell the receptionist that if they’re not as sick of seeing me as I am of needing to see them, the physical therapist says I need to schedule another appointment with the doctor. Okay, maybe I won’t phrase it quite like that. I actually like my doctor. I just don’t like needing to see him.
Dear WordPress grammar checker: When I write “an orthopedist,” do not tell me that I’ve selected the wrong article and should try “a orthopedist.” Any six-year old can tell you that the letter “O” is a vowel, therefore the appropriate indefinite article is “an.”