Physical Therapy (PT) and Me
PT, hard work got me back on course
When I was a child, I remember seeing a large sign set on the roof of a auto repair business.The sign was directly across the street from Briggs Stadium, at Don Holloway’s Auto Springs and Shocks Service center. The Detroit Tigers played baseball right across the street from that garage back in the 50s. The sign on the building announced, "Limp in, leap out". I didn't know exactly what it meant until I got older ... but to this day I remember it well.
It came to mind recently. You can judge my age by my reference to the old baseball stadium. I have had a few incidents that I hoped would have`me limping in and l leaping out of my local rehabilitation center. I did not exactly "leap" out when my sessions were completed, but I was generally able to ambulate out of the facility on my own after a month of intense therapy.
My most recent exposure to Physical Therapy was just recently completed. On a vacation trip out to the west coast, I accidentally tripped and broke my hip. It was a disaster, as I have other underlying issues that complicate and compromise my mobility. Long story short, an unsuccessful spine operation several years ago negatively affect my body and has compromised my lifestyle. No longer am I a ”Leaping Lord.”
I was determined however that a broken hip was not going to rob me of any more of my life. After a stressful but successful hip replacement operation 2500 miles from home in Ojai, California, I began what seemed to be an endless and constant regimen of therapy, exercise and determination. As you might expect, I "limped" horribly at the start of my program and was afraid that the leap stage might never happen to this old, broken boned character. I knew my pain and my condition was about to undergo a test on my resolve and capabilities. I also knew that I had to give this attempt a good effort to succeed. So my journey began.
I was out of bed the next day after my titanium hip was set in place. Never again will I be able to dash through airport security. But compared to the actual pain of the fall, the post-operative pain level was manageable. My first steps were akin to the first steps taken on the moon by our astronauts. It was a small step for mankind... small, deliberate, but a step nonetheless. It was apparent immediately how much work would be involved in my rehabilitation. After six days of light therapy in California, I was allowed to fly home to Michigan where my advanced therapy would begin.
After an uncomfortable flight home, I met the first of my therapists. He began a home therapy program to start rebuilding my leg muscles thato improve my strength for the more intense therapy to follow. After a month of three per week in-home sessions, my legs were strong enough to get ready for leaping lessons. I had my doubts.
During the early therapy sessions, I developed an extremely painful case of gout that made it virtually impossible for me to stand, move and excercise due to that extreme pain. The gout I experienced was not due to any changes in my diet ... rich foods or bad diet normally associated with gout. It was traced to the trauma my body had undergone when I broke my hip. It was not an entirely new experience for me as I had similar bouts after prior surgeries. My family doctor prescribed powerful drugs to take care of the issue, and after a week, I was able to resume my therapy.
The next phase was to get my leg strength back. I lost a great deal of my muscle mass and overall strength during the recuperation phases. I was fortunate to hook up with an experienced and skilled therapist who understood my issues and how best to approach their rehab. Unlike some younger, less experienced therapists I had encountered in my day, this woman knew anatomy and how muscles work extremely well. She was able to relate what my body needed to get myself in shape. It was as though she had instilled her mind and soul into mine and could devise a program that truly helped.
She put me through the paces, and did it all in gradual, attainable steps. She taught me how to use the precise muscles that controlled my movement and strength. She stretched, and pulled, coached and inspired and accomplished almost everything we had set out to accomplish.
Almost. I limped in but was not able to leap back into life. Other issues precluded that from happening. However I did have a very encouraging dream. I dreamt that I indeed did leap. That was at least a start, and for that Denise, and all the great therapists that came to my aid, I thank you.
I must admit that my successes were not all due to a therapist. The other half of the equation was the commitment I made to work hard at the therapy and continue with it even after my sessions expired. I found that PT facilities quite often offer programs that enable people to continue to use the facilities and equipment. For $30 a month, I was able to enroll in a continuing care program that allowed me complete access to the place and its advanced equipment . There was no need to join a health club with all its dues and contractual requirements.
Medicare paid for my initial PT series. There is a legal limit to the amount the government will contribute to rehab. It is a great way to get back on your feet and take advantage of the available programs and keep fit.
The "Limp in Leap Out" sign is gone. So is Don Holloway’s garage. The Tigers play nearby and though the leap is gone, I still have some spring in my step.