Friday, July 9, 2010

No Pain, No Gain

I wrote my last post, “It’s The Not Knowing,” just before my first in-home physical therapy appointment. I was a LOT nervous about what kind of pain it would entail. I took a pain killer and hoped for the best.

And the best is what I got, despite the pain. In fact, it was because of the pain that two days later I’m moving more fluidly than I have in two weeks, and it’s through pain that I continue to improve.

Here’s what happened Wednesday. While I had progressed to a 55-degree bend in my knee through the use of the continuous passive motion machine, my physical therapist forced my knee to bend to 65 degrees. For about 60 seconds I thought I was going to die or at the very least pass out, but that bend said to my knee, “Enough! No more babying you!”

The progression I’ve made in just 48 hours is amazing. Not only am I off the narcotic, but I’ve gone from sweating through four assisted leg lifts to doing 20 all by myself. On Wednesday, my PT assessed my walking and said I was not bending it enough or putting enough weight on it. Today, I washed AND dried AND put away dishes, all the while keeping equal weight on both legs.

Wednesday I was riding in the back seat of my car. Today, I was in the passenger’s seat. Next week, I’m gonna be at the helm, baby!

My PT said to not be afraid, to let my knee do what it was designed to do. ‘Wow,’ I thought. ‘That’s good advice for most everything in life.’

If we’re willing to go through pain rather than around it, the problem is solved much faster and with more permanency. This has been true in my life for grief (after dancing around that bad boy for nearly 20 years), relationships, and weight loss, and yet it’s a lesson I’m always learning. It’s hard to give up, give in, go through, face, or shake hands with pain and follow its uncertain and circuitous path, but think about it. When was the last time you accomplished anything significant without taking that first step into the uncomfortable?

It’s counterintuitive to inflict pain on ourselves, but sometimes it is through pain that we find relief or attain our goals. Because of the painful exercises, I can make tea by myself. Because I force my knee to bend further than it wants to, I can take a shower alone (or at least now I have the choice…wink, wink, nudge, nudge). Without pain, I’d be further from normal, more dependent, and more frightened of the unknown. This doesn’t mean I’m without fear or doubts or worry. I don’t look forward to these painful experiences. But living in the light of their redemption is worth every wince, outcry and tear. Every single one.

I’m going to get better, dammit, and I’m going to do it the same way I lost weight, faced grief, and dumped a painful relationship (or three): by not taking shortcuts and accepting the status quo. I’d do well to do this in all aspects of my life, but for now, I’ll just work on the knee.

7 comments:

  1. Oh, Lynn, I am so happy that you are doing better and that physical therapy has helped! My physical therapist told me something similar when I saw him more regularly: not to be afraid to move my knee and walk on it. When I had to step on and off a box, I did not like the clicking feeling I experienced. He not to worry about that but to do the exercise. I actually began to feel empowered by physical therapy (I know that sounds kind of odd, but I liked seeing progress each time I saw my physical therapist--and I liked that he was proud of me too!)

    And it is so true that we need to work through pain and discomfort in life to see growth. So true! I wish you continued success in getting better.

    Ali

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  2. I know how you feel with that knee. I just went through PT with my left knee and it is much better. I elected to do PT instead of surgery. Thanks again for my giveaway prize..

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  3. Glad to hear you're feeling better in spite of having to go through some pain. Hope you keep improving quickly.

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  4. My therapist just left and she had my knee bent to 80 degrees! Of course not without a few tears from moi, but still...80 degrees! My doc wants me at 90 degrees by next Friday. I'm so psyched.

    I'm also down to one crutch :) I just can't tell you all how happy this makes me. My body, for all its aches and pains and mishaps, has not abandoned me. It continues to amaze me.

    Thanks so much for all your encouragement and stories of your own PT experiences. Knowing I'm not alone is 90 percent of the battle.

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  5. You are a strong woman, my friend - and boy are you doing great with the PT! Congrats on getting to 80 degrees today - you are going to be 100% by the camping trip next month at the rate you're going!

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  6. Wink, wink, maybe you should play injured a little longer LOL. It's nice to have someone scrub your back!!

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  7. You are such a wise woman!!! Thanks for this needed lesson!

    I've been reading a book called, "Healing Through the Dark Emotions" by Miriam Greenspan. It says much the same thing as you and is quite readable, though based in science.

    Interesting: my captcha letters for this comment are:
    wousies LOL

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