SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2007
Most of this morning was spent in physical therapy, which is my main motivation for being in this facility. Down in the basement there is a fairly good sized physical therapy room, as well as a lap pool. For people who are used to hanging out in gyms, a PT room looks like a baby’s playpen—which, in many ways, it is. All of us are ‘babies’ in one way or another, something doesn’t work that should and we solving the problem in tiny increments. There’s no “Blockbuster Abs” or “Buns of Steel” in this gym—my ‘sissy squats’ are truly miniscule though—given the condition of my muscles—they are not for sissies.
Much of the work is done with resistance bands, just pulling against the tension over and over again. For many of us, these simple movements are a real challenge—faded blue eyes stare off into space as the patient laboriously counts her repetitions, determined to accomplish 25 band pulls instead of the required 20.
But there’s humor and imagination here, too. It’s not a matter of counting reps, but often the exercises are also a way of attracting attention of older, tired minds. My dining room friend Marmie is also a retired social worker, a smart woman whose tiny body has been crippled by a stroke. She has a difficult time standing and keeping her balance, something she practices daily in physical therapy. Today when it came time for her balance practice, Marmie was asked to play cards at a stand-up table. She was given a Solitaire deck and told she couldn’t sit down until the game was over. I watched, astounded at her swift and sure one-handed card playing and at her flawless balance. My task for the practicing the same skill was to play (standing) a Scrabble-like game, making up words from the random letter cubes. What better job for somebody with a master’s degree in English? Marmie and I both responded to our custom-tailored therapies with concentration and delight.
The therapy room is a treasure-trove of interesting challenges for all of us. Bright balls to squeeze, elastic ribbons in primary colors, small motor toys and games, and raised exercise tables—I never know what will happen when a therapist murmurs, “Now let’s see here….” and begins to rummage through the shelves and bins lining the walls. Somewhere in the collection of gadgets and tools, somebody has designed a game that will challenge an English major and keep her standing for a long time, many minutes beyond how long she thought her legs would hold her.
Chocolate message for this blog entry: “ Learn Something from Everyone You Meet.”
NOVEMBER 18, 2007—3:00 AM
Normal wake up time for me…the pain meds have worn off, and I am awakened by a throbbing pain in my right leg. I ring my buzzer, and the night aide appears with a cheery smile, a promise of a pill, and the assertion that ‘as long as I am awake, she’ll take my blood pressure.” She also brings me a Styrofoam cup of fresh ice water, a welcome addition to the two pills I swallow. I’ve been having some bad dreams, probably because of the pain, and waking up to some middle-of-the-night pleasant chatter about why I look so young (this aide also has a permanent pass to enter my life), and what I am doing with my computer at this dark hour—this conversation is a welcome relief from the dream appearance of a particularly judgmental and punishing person from my past. (Those hurtful memories do remain in the crevices of one’s mind.) However, Korin’s good humored chatter pulls me back to the present, happily and with such great relief that my nightmare punisher is a temporary creation of my own solitary dream. I have one of the chocolates Gwyn brought me earlier today: the wrapper has a message for me—“Temptation is fun…giving in is even better.” Another chocolate, then, and I will read a few pages of this mystery story before I doze off to sleep.