On relativity

First of all, read Ana’s post for today. It moved me to tears this morning.

Warning: Depression, disabilities, body image

The downside to physical therapy is that it’s in a big open area with a bunch of other patients (to maximize the physiotherapists’ time). I don’t have an injury; my legs are just defective. Judging by what I see there, it seems that if you have lost some of the range of motion in a joint due to an injury or surgery or what have you, the exercises you have to do to get that back are excruciatingly painful (screams and tears are not uncommon). Then there’s little old me with my 4lb leg weight struggling to lift my leg. I often end up minimizing my pain, telling myself I only have little bursts of pain and they’re not as bad so I should just suck it up, I just have a low pain tolerance.

It took me years to be able to allow myself to be miserable. It’s not that whatever’s happening to me is nothing and I’m just oversensitive. I’m in pain. That sucks. It’s allowed to suck. I’m allowed to break down crying in a restaurant because I’ve bitten my cheek for the fifteenth time in one meal and I just want to eat a goddamn burger and I can’t sleep and I can barely walk and everything’s awful. Last night, though, with the memory of that incident looming over me, and then coupled with struggling through my exercises while someone else nearby was in much more pain than I, and coupled with how I’m not making any progress and I’m just in pain all the time, and I fell once during physical therapy because of another spike of pain… waking up this morning and being given permission yet again to just say “This sucks.” and not add, “But it doesn’t suck that bad in the grand scheme of things” was a godsend.

(and yes, I’m one of those people who goes “Well Ana’s having to have surgery for her issue and I’m only in physical therapy so mine isn’t as bad”, and tops that off with a “I’m not really disabled so much as I’m a total wuss” cherry and “maybe I’m only in pain because I’m fat” syrup. Which, let me tell you, that syrup is deadly; as if there weren’t enough barriers to accepting my body size already, that one’s insinuated heavily by doctors if not outright stated. Lose 100lbs and my knees would be magically all better! I’m only in pain because I’m so very lazy and don’t work out enough, so really it’s all my own fault.)

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go make a doctor’s appointment for round three of “What exactly is wrong with my knees?”. I’m beginning to suspect, based on my lack of progress, that weak muscles isn’t the only thing wrong. After all, you don’t lose muscle mass easily; it takes months or years to atrophy, and I’m far from starving to death. Yet I seem to be backsliding despite the therapy. Shouldn’t I be getting progressively, if infinitesimally, better each time I go? How can I be worse than I was a few months ago? Maybe I’ve gained weight and put more strain on them, but I’m also wondering if there’s not a secondary problem that’s being worsened while the primary one improves. I never had much in the way of diagnostic tests, just some finger probing and a “yup, physical therapy will fix that right up. Also, ibuprofen.” So yeah. I don’t trust the doctors I had in college.

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