Anyone who has needed physio therapy will probably relate to the way you try so hard to please your therapist. It’s probably because deep down you believe they are the one that is going to fix you and you are desperate to be well again so you’ll do whatever they ask and probably more.
As a member of an online support group I read on a daily basis of people who have suffered from my condition, Transverse Myelitis, and worked really hard to get well again. To walk again and live a normal life. Even though many are prone to relapse or still have lots of pain, they still consider themselves recovered because of the hard work they put in to get there.
I want to get better, of course I do, who in their right mind would want to suffer pain 24/7 and not be able to leave the house unless in a wheelchair?
The need to please my physio therapist and do well is apparent in me. I will do everything she says and more. I don’t ask for a break unless she asks, I keep going, keep pushing, determined to show that I am getting better, I can do this.
For some reason this week I wanted it more than ever, maybe it was my frustration of getting out and about while in my chair. I wanted to show that I could do it, that I was so much better than I was before. I’ve been exercising at home and I wanted to show it.
It started off well, I wasn’t as stiff as I was last time when I got out of my wheelchair. I walked, being careful not to drag my foot. She said it was too slow and told me to go faster, it’s easier to walk if you walk faster apparently. So I did, I picked up my pace a little and got into the swing of it. Then she told me to let go of the bars and do it again, and I did. Then she told me to relax my hands away from the bars and do it again, and I did. Then she made me side step, then side step a little faster. By this time I was well and truly shattered and she asked if I wanted a break.
Five minutes later I was up again and this time she had got the step out. Step up and down with one foot, step up and down with the other foot, and again and again. Then step up and over, and again, and with the other foot. My knee was hurting and I complained…ok just a few more. It hurt, I was shattered but I did more.
Finally it was over and I’d done incredibly well, so why didn’t I feel elated? Usually when I have a good physio session I’d log onto to Facebook and tell my friends how well I was doing. I didn’t feel like I was doing well, I felt like I was dying inside and out.
Before I left my therapist was trying to persuade me to go without my wheelchair next time. Did she think I’d make the 10 minute walk to the bus stop? Ok then, she suggested I got a taxi and walked into the hospital taking breaks whenever I need them. It’s a big hospital, I’d have to arrive an hour earlier to get up to the gym by the time of my appointment. Then I wouldn’t be fit for anything. Ok then, maybe I could walk from the reception to the gym. Ah, that’s better, it would probably only take me about 10 minutes, if I could make it, there’s nowhere to stop on the way, nothing to hold on to.
Suddenly I felt very pessimistic. I felt as though I wasn’t doing enough, She was making out that I rely on my wheelchair too much.
I don’t, I don’t use my wheelchair in the house and I walk around as much as possible during the day. I’m even going up and down the stairs a few times a day now. I push myself all the time.
I was so worn out after the session I felt like falling asleep on the bus on the way home. My feet started to swell and within a couple of hours I couldn’t even get my slippers on. My legs were burning and my knees hurt. My knees hurt so bad my painkillers didn’t touch the pain and I couldn’t get to sleep that night.
The next day my feet were swollen and my knees hurt. This is not the sort of pain you expect from exercise, trust me, I’ve done enough to feel the burn in my lifetime. This was non stop neuro pain, this was my body saying you’ve done too much and I’m not happy. This is my life as a TM sufferer and it happens whenever I do too much.
Then there is the exhaustion, it takes you over and makes you feel like you’ve not slept for days.
Then you can’t sleep because the pain won’t let you.
Do I have to suffer to get better?
Will I not get better unless I push myself and bear the pain?
What is the point in spending one hour proving that I can walk and step up and down a little step, if it means I’m going to suffer for days afterwards?
Last year I did the Race For Life. That’s 5K. I didn’t run but I walked quickly and it hurt, and the next day I ached. But, it was nothing like I felt after my physio, it is like comparing a cold to pneumonia.
I felt like cancelling my next session and never turning up again. I felt like I just couldn’t do it, I’ll just sit in my wheelchair and get used to a life of immobility.
But I can’t. I’ll do my therapy like a good girl and prove that I can do it because I’m superwoman and nothing is going to stop me. Then in five years time I’ll go back to my support group and tell them how I fought my way to getting well again…until the next relapse at least.