Physical Therapists or Physical Terrorists?

The one thing I dread most about being discharged from the hospital after an operation or after I get my cast off is the physical therapy that follows. If you are a Physical Therapist I'm sorry, but all the PTs before you ruined it for me. As I am laying on the plush blue mat, they are always kneeling besides me with the condescending smile frozen on their faces:

"Can you bend your knee aaallll the way up to your chest for me?" She says as she tries to collapse my freshly de-casted leg towards me as if it were an accordion. Then it always gets to a certain point where my finger tips are digging into the mat, my face contorts into a wince, and I am trying to wriggle free from her grasp. My body is confused because it isn't sure how to interpret the strange sensation in my leg: is that sharp pain that I am trying to resist really just a muscle that hasn't been used in 5 months? Or is what I'm feeling a fracture on the verge of happening? Because whenever a P.T. is flexing, bending, or stretching me I always assume that she will snap something in half. I start to sweat, my stomach tightens into a knot, and I am literally waiting for that snap and then the burning sensation.
No dammit, I can't bend my knee all the way up to my chest for you! In fact I don't want to do anything for you! But of course I am old enough to know better than to snap at her, have had too many experiences to know that she won't break anything; and yet there I am, my body always resisting what she is trying to get it to do. Instinct? A deep mistrust I have of anyone touching me? Maybe it's because it always feels like she is forcing my joints to break through the rust? And doesn't that just sound painful?
Part of it is also because my body has memorized and internalized a lot of painful incidents. So as the PT is handling the latest traumatized limb or area of my body, I imagine that it is freaking out as she drags it kicking and screaming to re-visit the motions of the injury - except this time to do it correctly, safely, and in a way that won't put me back in fiber glass for another 3 months.

Several weeks later it'll be completely different:
"Wow! Look at that! See? I knew you could do it all along! You've re-gained complete range of motion in your leg again!" They are always right in the end, in my experience anyway.

Every physical therapy session I have attended is always a test to see what my body is capable of. It's probably because of the nature of the OI that this in of itself sounds so terrifying. Because usually when I have inadvertently learned what my body is capable of, it results in an injury, some painful fracture. So as I'm laying on the blue mat for 45 min at a time, I am usually trying desperately to be as mentally positive as possible - anything to make the flexing and stretching easier on me.

On Physical Therapy:

  • I have yet to meet anyone who looks forward to attending physical therapy sessions. It isn't supposed to be fun! Having more realistic expectations of what PT is meant to accomplish can make the struggle less challenging
  • As I have gotten older (both in part from the lectures my PT/ortho gave me, and from personal experience) I have learned that the rehab time following an injury is just as important as getting a cast on in the healing process
  • Regularly including PT in the fracture management process helps young kids understand that rehab and PT are not separate to fracture care. Just because your leg is no longer in three pieces, or just because you have the cast off and everything feels fine - doesn't mean that we are in the clear
  • PT sessions are not just limited to regaining range of motion or strength. There have been many instances when my body has gotten stronger than I expected it to, when I came out of PT more physically independent than I thought was possible. 
  • And you know what they say, no pain no gain!

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