My Ankle Is Jacked Up

I had to go to physical therapy this week. I've never been before, but I've heard scary things, so I was a little nervous.

I blame the mouse.
In case you're wondering why... let's just say: Chuck E Cheese, newborn baby exhaustion, and Sketchers Shape Ups are a bad combination. My ankle made unnatural noises. So I did what any reasonable person would do- pretended it would get better on its own. "There's nothing the doctor can do for a sprained ankle."- my friends and family agreed.

But it didn't get better on its own. Instead, I found myself staring at a (slightly judgmental) doctor 6 weeks later: "You didn't go see anyone when this happened?"

When I went to my physical therapy appointment, I learned something else: I can't walk downstairs. This was new and upsetting information. How could a person NOT realize this?

Then the therapist had me walk for him. I felt about as awkward as anyone in rolled up yoga pants would feel while walking up and down the carpet. Should I catwalk it? Saunter? Do a little spin? His level of concentration was uncomfortable.

In the end, he nodded knowingly. "Your gait is a little askew." I must have looked confused because he followed it up with: "It makes sense. Your body has this way of realizing what movements hurt. Soon you're guarding it and you don't even know you are."

So the verdict? My range of motion is extremely limited now. All that "guarding" the pain has left me with very little mobility. My foot can only do the most basic "askew" walking on level ground.

The treatment? A series of: heat, followed by intense exercises that force me to use my foot in ways I don't want to, capped by electrical shocks and ice socks. FUN!

You see, my brain is crafty. It will find ways to avoid the pain. I will jiggle my knee instead of my ankle. I will turn my body to achieve rotation. I will lift my heel and "hop" off a step. And I don't even know I'm doing it! The only way to attain the full and healthy use of my foot- is to carefully  HURT myself. In other words: I have to ignore what my brain is saying to me: "Stop, this hurts!" and go on blind faith that the trainers are giving me sound advice. You want me to what? This seems wrong.

The whirlpool for my feet. I could get used to this part...

And while I sat on the table at the end (in the ice sock and electrodes) it occurred to me. Physical therapy is well named (in my humble opinion). It has a lot in common with the therapy I do for people. 

When people come in, they don't always know the ways their live are affected. They just know there's something not right. And it can be pretty disturbing at first- to realize how "not right" it really is. Then comes the work: the part where you have to ignore the fear, and do what hurts. My clients are superheroes in my book because that takes a tremendous amount of personal courage, strength and faith in your therapist. 

... and sorenesss. Oh, the soreness...

But last night, I stood up from the rocking chair and I didn't want to cry. So... there are glimmers of hope too.

Wishing you promise for the pain,

ps- I'm coming back to work soon! Yay! I'll call them and get my current clients squared away with appointments first, and then open up to new people. Can't wait to meet you!


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