Saturday, April 29, 2006

April 26, 2006 - Physical Therapy

At my last appointment, Dr. Lerner wrote me a prescription for some physical therapy, because I’ve been finding my stamina to be so low. This afternoon, I go to Life Fitness – a fitness center and physical-therapy program run by our local hospital – for an evaluation.

I’ve been a “fitness center” member of Life Fitness in the past; I used to go over there regularly in the morning, to walk the treadmill, ride the stationary bike and go through a cycle on the weight machines. As with so many good intentions, that one always went by the boards eventually. After backsliding for a few months, I’d return and re-up, beginning the whole cycle of good intentions and self-recrimination all over again.

Today is different. Today I’m going to the mysterious upstairs of the Life Fitness building. The second floor is where they do the physical therapy. I’ve been aware of friends who have gone there – most recently, Robin, our associate pastor, following her knee-replacement operation – but in all my years of walking the treadmills downstairs, I’ve never ventured up to this second level.

As I climb the stairs, I don’t feel like I belong there. Am I really sick enough to need physical therapy? I ask myself. But then I remember how easily I get out of breath these days, climbing the stairs or walking the dog, and I tell myself not to be a fool. Think of it as an opportunity – an opportunity to get back into shape.

It turns out, the physical therapists upstairs are no strangers to cancer fatigue. They take what I say about physical exhaustion and shortness of breath seriously. I may not have a new knee like Marilyn, a church member I just encountered in the waiting room. My blood pressure may be normal. I may be able to walk around without pain. But I have much less stamina when it comes to cardio-vascular activities than I did before, and it turns out there are some things we can do about that.

This first day consists of an intake interview and examination, and some stretching exercises. I learn that my range of motion, particularly with my legs, is not what it should be. Lori-Ann, my therapist, gives me some stretching exercises to do at home, on the days I don’t have therapy appointments.

If nothing else, the appointments will get me out and doing something physical: in a measured, gradual way that will keep me from getting discouraged and giving up on exercise altogether (my usual pattern). I’ve thought of myself in the past as a not-so-physically-fit person who had nothing to blame for his sad state of bodily disrepair but himself. Now I can blame the cancer, at least for these latest problems. Maybe the three-times-a-week appointments will be more of an incentive than the drop-in-whenever-you’d-like system of my past fitness center membership.

Let’s hope so, anyway.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Those appointments are the ticket!!
Nothing like having a PT ("physical terrorist", with apologies to the wonderful staff!) expecting you to be there!