I was a bit excited the first time I went to physical therapy. This was going to be the person that would tell me how to “fix” my problem. I still hadn’t accepted what was happening to me…in fact, a year later I still haven’t. This doctor seemed to really know her stuff. She told me I needed to drink bone broth, and she told me how to make my own. That sounded nifty, but a busy woman with a full time job, and several other church obligations such as running a women’s conference 2 months later, probably wasn’t going to make her own bone broth (I buy it at the store instead). She also told me about Tumeric, which I have used daily since. I am at a stage where I will do ANYTHING you tell me will work.
She led me through some simple stretching exercises and measured my range of motion. I really liked her and looked forward to working with her. Unfortunately, that first time I worked with her was also my last. I was handed off to a guy who was quite pleasant, but I preferred working with a woman. Our bodies are different. Plus, I could tell by the pictures on the wall, that she was an athlete and I wanted someone who could understand my mourning for myself, as well as my physical pain. Every time she walked through the therapy room, my eyes followed her with a sense of longing. How could she ditch me when my whole life had been disrupted?
My GP suggested that I stop walking, since it is more jarring to my joints. Stop walking??? Was she crazy??? I had ALWAYS walked. My mother was a tremendously fast walker, and so was my brother. When I was little I had to move my legs twice as fast as they did, just to keep up. We went camping every summer, and my brother and I would go on the ranger hikes and memorize all of the information so that we could take our Dad on the hikes later and explain everything to him. Then, when I entered middle school, my Mom suggested that we backpack up Mt. Whitney. We went on 4th of July weekend and there was so much snow that we couldn’t make it to the top in our tennis shoes. We went down, but vowed that we WOULD make it someday. That was the beginning of a lifetime of backpacking and long distance hiking. I hiked the John Muir Trail (225 miles) when I was 17 and again when I was 21. Almost every summer after that I hiked at least 100 miles in the Sierra. And now my doctor wanted me to stop walking.
Her suggestion was that I get a spin cycle and start cycling every morning. Cycling is less jarring, and yet it warms up the legs and gets the heart pumping. I have cycled almost daily for the past year. I also still do my leg stretching exercises (left over from my physical therapy sessions). You may know them. They are called clam shells and I do 20 on each leg every morning. If I don’t cycle and do the leg stretches daily, I don’t walk well. My physical therapist (the guy, not the female athlete) told me to get used to it. Even on Christmas morning, you do the cycling and the stretches BEFORE everybody else gets up. This is a part of my life now.
I asked my doctor about seeing a therapist and she said that I should definitely look into it if I thought I needed it. She also said that she could prescribe anti-depressants. I just couldn’t understand how this could happen to me. I eat healthy. We make most of our food from scratch – no preservatives. I exercised everyday for years. How could this happen to ME?? I read everything I could get my hands on, trying to understand. I guess that some of this is hereditary. My mom had arthritis in her hands, but that was more likely rheumatoid arthritis. Some of this is trauma to the joints. I am known as the faller in my family. I fell 30 feet on a rock climb once and was unconscious for a week, blasting two holes in my lungs, but not breaking a bone. I have also fallen twice during races. One time I broke my pinky finger and my wrist. Another dynamic racing fall on the Golden Gate Bridge tore my rotator cuff and I had to have surgery. But I was not aware of anything that I had specifically done to my hips.
I heard about some injections that a person could have in their hips, and I decided that I wanted those. I was sent to a specialist who refused to do the injections, and instead wanted to replace my hips. I couldn’t wrap my mind around having artificial hips, so I refused. My GP then sent me to another doctor who did the injections, but when I got there he told me that he doesn’t do injections in the hips. I had built up the fact in my head that these injections were going to be answer. When I left the second doctor’s office I laid my head on the steering wheel and cried my eyes out. Why was this so hard? Couldn’t ANYBODY help me?