August 2, 2012
I have my very own core-strengthening/ balance-training outsized bouncy ball. I have my very own stretchy, flat-snaky resistance bands. I have my very own tailor-made exercise program printed-out on stapled paper. What I do not have is a physical therapist. Not anymore.
Yesterday was my last day of physical therapy. I didn’t so much graduate as I did hop from a plane with the above-mentioned tools for a parachute.
For seven months, three weeks out of four, twice a week, I readied myself for what often would be my only outing for the week. It was as if I was a member of society, of a social club, if nothing else. I had to do things like tame my beard on occasion and take care not to be wearing on Wednesday what I had been wearing on Monday. Not anymore.
Granted, because of the relative success of my PT over the past 7 months, I am capable of getting out more often than I was, say, in January or February or March and so on due my steadily increasing mobility. When I started therapy, I could not operate my ankle to move my foot up and down—muscular weakness and a disconnected neurology to blame. I could not flex my left calf; it just flubbed about at the behest of gravity all volitional efforts be damned. My general gait so exactly matched the disinterred zombies in Michael Jackson’s Thriller video (before, of course, they break into that death-defying, much imitated, never duplicated dance) that children watched in horror if ever they saw me in the light of day.
Now I can move my foot. I can think of doing so and do it—piercing the brain-fog long enough to make demands of my pathetic physiology. Now my left calf resembles more a left calf than a distended rooster wattle. Now my hip and knee flexion is more Jim Nabors as Gomer Pyle in the Marine Corps and less Peter Boyle as young Frankenstein’s lumbering fiend.
I will miss the encouragement and admonishment of my therapist, Heather. She is among that rare class of people who genuinely care for the well-being of others. She cared enough to keep me on after my insurance decided I was done. She cared enough to call if I missed a session to make sure I was okay. She cared enough to make me wonder if I care enough. Am I as concerned with my health as I should be? Am I as concerned with the health of others as I should be? Is life good enough to be well for it? Beyond keeping up with my at-home exercise program, I hope I can keep up with my at-therapy, self-evaluation program.
I will also miss that angled trampoline against which one gets to throw weighted balls. Of those, I do not have my very own.