Today I walked into my second physical therapy session feeling pretty darned proud of myself. I left feeling totally lame (yeah, I mean it both ways).
A week ago I went for my first session. Just five days earlier, I had gotten the okay from my surgeon to start bearing weight on my leg gradually. No more than 25 to 50 pounds for the first week, he said. The doctor had instructed me that after the first week was behind me I could start trying to wean myself from the boot and crutches, one at a time. He seemed to indicate that within a few weeks I might have accomplished one or the other, but not necessarily both. In light of the weight restrictions, I was quite surprised when on day one of therapy I was told to try walking without my crutches. According to the doctor it was still too soon to put my full weight on my left leg, but I did as I was told (frankly, I wasn't thinking about the doctor's instructions at that point). The physical therapist worked with me through a series of exercises, showed me how to walk on one crutch, and advised me to wear my boot for protection if I was going outside my house.
Back home I started doing my exercises twice daily, just as I was told. I stopped wearing the boot almost immediately (I HATED that thing!), and within a couple of days I ditched the crutches, too. Try as I might to increase the flexibility and strength of my ankle, about all I could do was hobble around the house. Still I thought I was doing pretty well for someone who hadn't walked in seven weeks.
My second physical therapy appointment was scheduled for this morning, less than two weeks after my visit to the doctor. And I wondered...should I wear the boot? Walk in on crutches? No, I decided there would be no steps backward for me. I was going to limp in on my own two feet with my head held high, and if the therapist reprimanded me for not taking the proper precautions this early in the game, so be it.
Little did I know I'd have a different therapist today. Maybe she thought I was several months post-op. After all, I wasn't wearing a boot or walking with crutches. Or maybe I just looked like someone who needed a verbal smackdown. But almost as soon as the introductions were made, the belittling began. It wasn't so much what she said as how she said it. "Is that as far as you can flex your ankle? Your goal should be that the left ankle bends as far as the right!!!" "If you keep walking with that limp, you're going to have hip and knee problems, too!!!" Lady, did I just walk into physical therapy or a faith healing session??? Did I miss the part where, through the power of God, you smacked my forehead with the heel of your hand and told me to throw down my crutches and walk??? I had been doing everything I was told. But if I hadn't been told yet, I had no way of knowing what to do. And if I already knew the proper steps to total recovery, would I be paying out of my own nearly-empty pockets for the privilege of driving out of my way to sit in a crowded room practicing what I could do in the privacy of my home, for free???!!!
I did learn a few things today: The stride I take with my right leg should match the left; a cane will make it much easier for me to walk correctly; I should walk as slowly as necessary so that I don't limp; and I should have known all this before I entered the Hallowed Halls of Physical Therapy.
Smack me down as many times as you want. I'll get back up. And when I have the strength, I'll stand firmly on my left foot and kick your ass.