...busting up my brains for the words

Friday, December 02, 2005


My arm hurts. My arm hurts now more than it it last week. This is distressing, as I naturally want to see less pain from day to day since my bicycle crash and subsequent surgeries. But it doesn't work that way. If I give in to the desire to watch pain fade away, I will be a man with one good arm and one frozen, near-useless arm. Needless to say, I don't want that. I want my arm back 100%. My doctor tells me I'm not getting my arm back 100%. If I work hard and bear the pain of exercise, I'll be lucky to get back 98% of my arm.
So I exercise. So I inflict and withstand pain.
Last week, my doctor examined my arm and found that it's healing well. He wouldn't go so far as to proscribe a strength physical therapy regime. But he did tell me that he wants my physical therapist to become "more aggressive" in motion exercises. I took my new orders to my therapist, but she was a bit hesitant to embrace his advice. She wanted to phone him and learn more precisely what his instructions were.

I lost a week of aggressive self-administered exercise upon myself because I was fooled by these two professional offices in their arm-wrestling. I am trying to be a good patient, so I try to follow instructions from these folks as closely as possible. No one told me to aggressively exercise my arm, myself. I dutifully took the news to my therapist and then she wasted a week in conferencing with my doctor.

That was my mistake. My first-hand experience with these health people tells me that, if you'll pardon my expression, the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing. Maybe it's incompetence. Maybe it's fear of litigation. I don't know. My therapist accused me of "arguing" with her yesterday because I kept asking questions. That bothered me. I thought about dropping her services and finding a new therapist. But I devoted some deep thought over the situation and decided that that's probably not necessary. What is necessary is simply to embrace the fact that my own personal health is in my own hands at this point. Most of the rehabilitation I stand to gain will ultimately come from my own self-administered exercise regime at home on a day to day basis, two to three times per day.

So I've begun to do 20 repetitions of arm curls, three times per day. It's difficult. This is a motion that was, before my accident, done with very little effort. I used to do 3 sets of 8 curls per day with 50 pounds of weight. Now, it's important to use no weights. My doctor wants range of motion exercises; not strength or resistance exercises. No argument there. Just making the range of motion is difficult enough for me. My therapist observed that I'm not breathing naturally when I do this exercise. Once again, I have some problems with the way my therapist presents this coaching to me. She operates from a negatively critical point of view. Why? It seems to me that she should be adept at understanding where the patient is coming from. Of course I'm not breathing naturally! It hurts like hell!

Once again, some time alone, contemplating the situation helped me realize that just because my physical therapist and doctor are not perfect, is no reason to give myself short shrift. I take their information, no matter how ineffectually presented to me, and utilize it.

So I now concentrate on breathing regularly and naturally as I flex and extend.

My opinion of health officials and health specialists has taken a severe downgrade. But I'll be damned if I will let that get in the way of my complete recovery.


  • At 11:46 PM, Anonymous Night Writer said…

    Hang in there, dude. I don't doubt that it hurts like crazy, but you will outlive this. 20 years from now - even 2 years from now - you'll be glad you stuck it out when you have an arm you can do things with. I can't tell you how many times I've wished I paid more heed to my own therapy following my knee surgery in college. I guess I was too young and invincible to think very far ahead, but I pay for it now.

  • At 8:04 PM, Blogger pinkmonkeybird said…

    Thanks for sharing that story, NW. I'll ask you about it next time I see you at Keegan's.


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