Physical therapy is one of those ‘I-don’t-want-to-go-but-I’ll-feel-better-if-I-do’ type of things… Because — well — I really don’t want to go but I’ll feel better if I do. Case closed.
And now I’m starting to feel the affects because my knee pain is very minimal compared to before, so I can’t quit now. Must… Keep… Going…
But yesterday I really, really didn’t feel like going. It was so beautiful and sunny outside, it had been a long day at work, and I still had to throw dinner together. I didn’t feel like stretching and working the muscles around my knee. Honestly, I felt like being lazy.
Then I met Katy* in the waiting room. She was a spunky, little girl of about seven. The thing about Katy is that her smile is infectious. She smiles and the whole room lights up. When you look at her, you notice her big, beautiful eyes and her bouncy curls. You almost forget to notice the metal walker that surrounds her — like a cage on wheels. And when she awkwardly moves about the room, it’s hard to see anything but her determination and passion for life. You forget to notice that she has a muscle disorder that makes it difficult for her to walk or balance on her own.
We were both eventually escorted into the back, work-out room. My physical therapist got me set up on the bike to work out a bit. She watched me and said that I had strong legs. Then she lifted herself up a bit, pushing against the bars of her walker, and told me that she can do that only when she eats vegetables. I commented that she must have eaten a lot of vegetables that day.
She pointed at my curls and then back at hers… Gave me a thumbs up in approval. I gave her a thumbs up back. Curls rock.
But within half an hour, the bubbly little girl had burst into tears. Her face was red. Her fists clutched together in panic. Her physical therapist had taken away her walker and was forcing her to balance. She said it hurt… said she was scared. And he kept urging her to be brave — to be superwoman. But she wasn’t brave or superwoman. She was just a seven-year-old girl who thought that she was going to fall.
Her mom had to leave the room, unable to watch.
As I watched Katy cry and beg the therapist to stop, I looked down at my knee that has been giving me so much trouble. And I realized that I have never had it very bad…ever. Someday, Katy will be strong and she will be able to walk without crutches. And she’ll thank her therapist and her mom for giving her tough love. But when you’re just seven, how are you supposed to understand that?
I don’t think I’ll ever complain about physical therapy again.
* (Name changed)