As physical therapy sessions approach again, flashbacks of my first session flood to my mind. April was the month I began my first voluntary torture showdown. Me versus induced pain. It was a crap shoot which one was to win on those first visits. Never having experienced physical therapy before, I had no expectations. My bag of bones was petrified into the shape of a chair position. Barely moving for over three months, muscle atrophy and inflexibility scolded my frail, skinny frame. I had in this position since my car crash.
Pure terror consumed my mind over a stranger touching my ankles. Unable to bear the thought of multiple strangers working on me, I asked to be scheduled with one therapist only. Trust was essential in my participation. As I sat in that cheap, blue contraption known as a wheelchair, my therapist asked what I wanted to achieve from therapy. My desperate answer, " I want you to challenge and push me. I want to live as closely to my previous activity as possible. I want to walk," I declared. Examining my x-rays and listening to me reveal my last three months made us both sigh. "What is he going to do with me?" I speculated. "What am I going to do with her?" he reciprocated in his own mind. (he later divulged this to me)
Transferring to a cot that butted up against a concrete wall, I was advised to lie on my back. "Flat?" I asked incredulously. My waist and pelvis were rebelling against the action. Each part of my anatomy liked the position it was in, they didn't moved independently anymore. Leaving my knees bent and lowering myself down to my left side, I met the white cot with my shoulder and rolled to my back. I'm sweating. My 'inducer of pain' pushed my knees to the mattress and my lower back revolted by awkwardly arching upward.
"Roll to your stomach," was his next instruction. My face went blank as if I didn't understand what he was saying. "On my stomach?", I am appalled. First off, my legs are in braces, I haven't rolled anywhere in months, my pelvis and lower back pain is atrocious and he wants me to roll over? Terrible, just terrible is what this movement was. To make it worse he asked me to then push up on my elbows. He measured the angle my torso was able to bend. I had barely moved.
"Are we done yet?", I prayed. Perspiration rolled in droplets down my spine. Plank like, I rolled to my back again and he announced he was going to stretch my ankles. Like hell! Oh no. NO, NO NO NO and NO. Don't go there. Stay away, don't touch them. Don't even look at them. No.
"Okay," I sulked instead. Just removing my socks was a time consuming chore as he stared at the damage. As I sat upright with my legs stretched out to the end of the cot, he spelled out that he needed to extend my ankles downward. Pushing down on the tops of my feet was the only way to regain movement. I am panicked. I don't want to do this, My God, I don't want to do this. "Let's do this," I state with false enthusiasm.
My eyes squeezed shut as hot pain seared from my ankles up to my lower legs at the lightest push. His hands shifted my feet downward even more. My palm met the concrete wall to my right with a smack, sweaty with fingers splayed apart. "Dear God!" I screamed inside. The sound of my bones moving was nauseating as if they were breaking apart all over again. Reciting internally that I could handle this was the only thing I could do to keep from sobbing. I wanted to sob, it was right there ready to bellow out.
I can describe the feeling only as if my ankles were encased on old, crumbling concrete for a decade. Now they were being removed from this unforgiving home. Popping, grinding and my own gasps engulfed me. Taking myself back to the pain that fateful night as I awoke in the car, I thought that surely today's anguish couldn't be as dreadful. Could it?
My nose began to run with tears that I refused to let fall. A half sob, half laugh escaped me as my fingers clawed at the cold, beige wall while he held my stretched ankles down for ages. "That's enough for today," he admonished. Air rushed out of my lungs as I sighed with relief. My shoulders slumped and my head leaned against the wall as he strapped my braces back to my legs. Throwing a narrow side glance his direction as he asked how my first visit went, said as much as if I had uttered the words aloud.
Leaving with sheets of exercises to perform at home, I started making my goals list as Mom wheeled me to the truck. Determination set it's long talons inside of me right then. Today, I have stopped surviving this trauma and started recovering from it.
Let's do this!
#PCRMC Success Story!
Carey Portell 2011
My accident occurred on December 29, 2010. I was hit by a drunk driver that luckily only left me with severe bone injuries. The most severe were a pelvic ring fracture and severe bilateral ankle fractures.
All bones in my left ankle were broken and dislocated, causing the nerves to tear. This left no feeling from the ankle down.
I had an open tibia/fibula fracture and all bones were crushed so severely in my right ankle that the physicians could not save all of the splinters. I still have gaps that are trying to grow back in.
After many surgeries and lots of metal installed, I was put back together and able to start therapy. With the help of my therapist, I was able to start stretching out my body from being in a wheelchair for so long. Most exciting was learning to walk again. Just to stand on my own two feet was exhilarating.
My choice of coming here for therapy is a confident one. The therapists have not just helped me physically, but mentally as well. Some days are a challenge and you just need to hear someone else tell you that you can do this, then show you that you can. I am in pain every day, but look forward to therapy days because I know I will be met with a smile from every staff member & I will be challenged to progress in my #recovery. I leave with a feeling of accomplishment & that I can win this fight.