There are many ways people show strength. With a chronic illness, it is easy for outsiders to see us as strong, but we seldom agree with them. Being strong should mean that you can compete in the olympics or hike up a mountain, not lay in bed all day. There are so many ways we can choose to be strong with the illnesses we fight whether they be big or small.
This week I want to talk about how going back to PT is hard and going back time and time again is brave. Starting PT for me is always hard especially at a new practice. I have such an in depth history that I feel like there is no way for me to explain everything to my PT without overwhelming them. Then I become self conscious and start assuming that they think, “I am going to be too much work” or that “I am not worth their time.” What plagues my mind most is knowing that setbacks come so quickly for me, and my body moves slow; so I again assume that they are going to think that when I am not showing results like other patients that “I am lazy.”
In 2014, when I was working with my favorite PT of all time, I initially came into their dance medicine service for an injured achilles. I didn’t know at the time that I had EDS or that in a few weeks from meeting Sophia that I was going to battle death. After all that happened and shortly after it was clear I had EDS, I was in a wheelchair and felt like the biggest failure. My PT NEVER made me feel this way, but I felt that way. 2015 was filled with huge setbacks and little comebacks. I had to learn how to walk again four times that year. I felt like the office staff and other physical therapists were judging me. I couldn’t blame them if they did. Some weeks I came in walking and others I was back to square one in a wheelchair. I told my PT I was ready to give up and did not want to come back because I did not want to face the rest of the staff. Ultimately I did not want to face my own body and its shortcomings. Staying in PT was strong.
My PT was amazing and she helped me be brave and come back every week. It was not easy, but we kept facing every challenge and obstacle together. Sadly that December she was moving and we had to say goodbye. Not only was I sad that she was leaving, but I became very anxious about finding another PT. A new PT meant I had to start over, explain everything again, and engulf another provider into my saga of a life. This fear took over my mind and I actually hid from physical therapy, and didn’t find another practitioner until almost an entire year later. Going back and starting over again was strong.
I found a PT that I really liked who did not know a lot about my conditions, but was willing to work to understand. He also had chiropractic skills that he incorporated into my therapy, which was awesome because what brought me back to PT was a back problem. Sadly the practice changed within one month of me being there, and they let go of my PT without telling me (or him) in advance. Then the search was on for another PT. I am in school for dance medicine and my career has been all about rehabilitating dancers, so I had enough knowledge to do the exercises I needed to without extra help.
I slowly started going downhill and after my hip subluxed for the first time I desperately needed a PT new PT. I surely needed a PT that understood my body. Attempting to find that was strong. That was how we found the Muldowney Clinic in RI. I was nervous to go and start again, but I did. I was surprised at how well they understood my situation and did not become overwhelmed by my body- as an EDS clinic they only know complicated cases. It was amazing and still is as that is where I am still continuing with. I am sure you have at times struggled with the victories and failures in your journey of physical therapy. We all have, but continuing to show up and take care of the body God gave you is strong. You don’t have to run a marathon to show strength. You can show powerful strength in carrying on and “living despite it all.”
Have you had similar feelings in your chronic illness journey? Share how you are strong by going back to PT in the comments below!