I’m an Optimist, not a Therapist… or a Medium

My shoulder had started to hurt… again.

When I first started training for my last two events, my shoulder would go through a phase of … discomfort.  It wouldn’t last very long, maybe a week or two.  Then the pain would subside, or maybe I just got used to it…?  Who knows!

So several weeks ago now, it started to hurt.  Not really so much during my swimming, but after it would definitely pulse with pain!  Tingling all down my arm would ensue, coupled with a feeling of swollen-ness or something.  The best part was that it would make sounds like Rice Krispies when I moved my shoulder around.  I really thought stuff was moving around in there!  Weird!

It was finally painful enough that I decided to see my doctor.  Well… first I asked a couple people if I should.  And they said I should.  So that was when I did.

I was a bit nervous.  Because I hate doctors.  No offense and not personally as individual people.  I just hate doctoral professions as a general rule.  I feel like they just do whatever they can to make me as uncomfortable as they possibly can… and then I have to pay them a bunch of money for it.

Okay.  So the doctor – in between running out of the room to throw up – checks me out and then sends me to get an x-ray and she writes me a prescription for some Physical Therapy.  Excellent.

So I go get the x-ray done, and it turns up nothing.  That was happy!  I was sure something was broken in there, the way it was talking at me.  I was glad that this was not the case and whatever is wrong is not with my bones. 

Armed with my physical therapy prescription, I head for a Physical Therapist.  The first lady wrenches my shoulder in all manner of degrees and explains to me what she thinks the problem is.  Furthermore, she gives me some exercises and stretches to do.  But because she is only a normal Physical Therapist, she decides to send me to the Athletic Physical Therapist.

A week went by.  My shoulder was still hurting, and my mileage in the pool was slowly dwindling.  But I was sure it was getting better.  I’m an optimist after all.

So the Athletic Physical Therapist was… exciting.  I have never felt like a celebrity before I met this guy.  He was so thrilled to meet a swimmer like me and such an accomplished athlete and blah, blah, blah…  I was a little befuddled by his energy!  He did give me some more exercises, warning me that if I don’t make the right kind of progress then I might have to stop swimming.

That was what he said, but what I heard was, “If you don’t make the right kind of progress… you’ll have to stop seeing me because I’ll tell you not to swim.”

Basically, they think that my back muscles need to be strengthened to pull my shoulder blades back some to relieve some kind of pressure or tension.

Great!  Strengthening.  I can DO that!  And I am getting better, I am making progress.  The right kind of progress, I don’t know how they define that.  I’m just an optimist.

Armed with my workout sheet – a single piece of paper with strange diagrams of people moving their arms in circular patterns – I headed home for the weekend.  Most of the exercises I had been given require that I lay on my stomach, with my forehead on a rolled up towel and I need to lift weights up behind me.

Except, I didn’t have any weights.  Ingeniously, I substituted jars of alfredo.

My kitchen is my favorite spot in my house, probably because it’s synonymous with food.  But it also has the most open floor space.  So I had just decided to do my PT in there.

When my friend arrived in the middle of my exercising, I got up and went to get the door, inviting her in.  As we walked through the mudroom to the kitchen, I was suddenly struck by the scene on my kitchen floor:

There was my rolled up towel on the floor.  Above it was a sheet of paper with diagrams of people laying on the floor, their arms contorted in different manners.  The jars of alfredo were placed approximately 18 inches apart on the floor, perfectly aligned.  I stared at the bizarre scene and suddenly saw it with my friend’s eyes as she got quiet.

“I’m not doing anything weird!” I suddenly exclaimed.  “I’m just doing my physical therapy.”

“Bethany,” she said.  “Anything you do wouldn’t surprise me, anymore.”

I started to laugh, assuring her it would just take a minute to finish up.

“If you had candles out, then I would be concerned,” she continued as she moved on to set her stuff down.  “But you don’t, so it’s not an alfredo seance.”

Ha!  I laugh just thinking back on it!  You know what?  That bright side is seldom hard to find, if you set yourself to really look for it.  Yeah, the shoulder hurts.  That’s okay!  We’ll just keep plugging away, just keep going.  We’ll get there.  And we’ll laugh along the way and enjoy the bizarre journey: alfredo seances and all!

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