Saturday, June 6, 2009

Physical therapy yesterday

I think this physical therapy is going to turn into a giant pain in my back, which is not going to help me one damned bit since that's what I'm trying to get rid of. I went yesterday afternoon, spent 30 minutes talking with the physical therapist about what's wrong with my back and what I need to do to make it better.
First thing he says is that sitting and bending over aggravate it (even though when my back is hurting, that's what relieves the pain), and that I should never bend over to do anything. Ok, that means I can't get the pots and pans out of the bottom cupboard - put them on higher shelves. I can't clean the catbox - put the cat box on a platform at waist height so I don't have to bend over and scoop it from the floor (yeah, Fat Cat is not going to jump up there to use it, this is that cat that is so lazy, he lays down to eat and drink). I can't do laundry - get a front-loading washer and put the washer and dryer on pedestals so I don't have to bend over to put the clothes in/take them out. Don't bend over the sink to do dishes - open up the cabinet door and put one foot on the rail inside, stand up straight with my belly right up to the sink (duh, I already do that). Don't sit in my recliner, use a wooden kitchen chair for the computer and watching tv, sit like a queen in that hard wooden chair (yeah, so my hips can hurt instead of my back). Go to the swimming pool 3 to 4 times a week and walk in the water (that I can do, once I find out what the motel charges and what days I can go).
All of these changes would be really nice to be able to make, but I want to know where the fuck am I supposed to find the room to store everything (at waist level) in my kitchen and on the back porch that I need for cooking and eating? Even if Fat Cat would jump up on a platform to use the litter box, where the fuck am I supposed to put that platform so that it doesn't get in the way of the shelf it currently sits in front of because we don't have any other place for it (the shelf or the cat box)? We just bought a new washer (top-loading), we can't afford to go out and buy another one (front-loading), plus pedestals for both the washer and the dryer just so I don't have to bend over to do laundry.
Another recommendation he made is to not sit for more than 1/2 an hour at a time, get up and move, even it's just walking from the computer (or my recliner) to the kitchen and back (I already do that, if I sit for too long in any chair, hard or soft, my hips hurt and I walk like I'm 100 years old).
Oh yeah, and my weight isn't the cause of my back problems, but it's not helping them any (duh, no shit sherlock). And if I could just lose 100 lbs or so, that might help. And if I would just quit eating so much, and move a bit more, I should be able to do that (and this in spite of telling him diets haven't worked in the past for me, not permanently, and that having my stomach stapled didn't work either). Then, on top of all of that, he has the nerve to suggest that maybe WLS would help, if I had it redone, or had a different type (yeah, I'm so not going there again, EVER!!!!). I told him that had been suggested and that I told those doctors they had their one chance to kill me and I would be a fool to give them another. So it's back to calories in/calories out (yeah, I eat the same foods DH does to control his blood sugar, I eat less than DH does, and I'm not losing weight, so I just need to eat even less, that's really going to work). Then, we were talking about something else, and he says something about doing the same thing over and over and getting the same result every time, and I said the definition of irrationality was doing the same thing countless times, and expecting different results. He totally agreed with that, but still thinks calories in/out makes sense.
The one exercise he gave me to do is supposed to stretch my back muscles. It's laying on my back, with my knees bent and my feet as close to my ass as I can get them (yeah, arthritic knees that hurt all the time bend real well for that). Then I put one ankle on the other knee, and try to line up the knee of that leg with the center of my chest and hold it for 5 minutes (worked real well, I'm supposed to be able to feel the muscle in the back of my thigh pulling, kind of hard to do when laying on my back makes my thighs go numb). I couldn't do it by myself, so he held my leg in place for the 5 minutes, then we switched legs and another 5 minutes of the same thing. So there I am, laying on this padded table, on my back, and it hurts and my thighs are numb, and I'm trying to feel the stretch in those muscles. I can't feel anything, and when we're done (did this once with each leg, I have to do this 2 or 3 times a day at home) I get up and my back is screaming at me and my knees are yelling, and I'm going "Yeah, this is going to work, the pain I've been having is because my back is telling me there's something wrong, so what does this pain mean?"
I got home, and took 800 mg of ibuprofen and 500 mg of tylenol (which didn't do much for the pain), sat at the computer for a few minutes, then went to start cooking dinner. By the time I had dinner in the oven (an hour later), I was in so much pain, I could hardly move (knees and back). Now my pain, on a normal day, is usually at around 7 or 8 on my scale of 1 to 10 (which is probably a 15 for anyone else). Yesterday, after physical therapy, it was a 10 and I was crying from it (and I don't cry from pain very damned often). I have to go back next Tuesday and Thursday, and I'm hoping things go better, that doing this exercise at home is going to help (but if I keep ending up in that kind of pain, I don't know.....). He wants to start working on my abdominal muscles too, and I don't know how well that's going to work, what with having had an incisional hernia repaired with mylar mesh (and I think the hernia is back).
I think I'm going to do some online research on exercises for strengthening back muscles, and see if it's the same stuff he wants me to do. I do know that I'm not going to be able to eliminate all the bending over I have to do, we can't afford it and we just don't have the storage room in this small house to put everything at waist level or higher.


  1. Ugh, I'm so sorry that your physical therapist sounds crap. I'm loving the one that I've been going to for a month for a knee injury. Is it possible to go to someone else?

    While I've been given exercises that challenge me, none have actually hurt me, and she has me immediately stop whenever a new one causes pain to shoot through the knee. I spend at least half of each appointment with massage and stim and ice packs in order to control the pain and swelling, and she just got me a personal TENS to use at home over the weekends. The bad knee now actually seems stronger and more stable than the other one, and the pain is definitely way down from when I was completely immoble. And she's never once mentioned my weight as a problem, or made me feel like she objected to touching my body. I see older, fatter, and downright completely disabled people come in every day, and she gets them all moving as best they can but never hurts them. I'm no expert, but this seems to me like the right way to offer PT.

  2. rishabree - I wish I could find another one, but he's the only one with the hospital that's attached to the clinic where my PCP practices (I love that, doctors practice, I'm tired of being a guinea To find another one, I'd have to find another doctor, in another town, and start all over again. I'll keep going, and I'll let him know what's working and what's causing pain, and if it's causing more pain, then he's going to have to come up with something else. I don't like pain and I'm tired of dealing with it, and anything that causes more pain or worse pain isn't something I'm going to be able to stick with (I know me too well, and if it hurts, I won't do it).

  3. i had a back injury... about a decade ago. the initial exercises included actually a lot of gentle upper body; i was given stretchy bands (in progressive levels of resistance) that you put between a door and doorframe, sit in a chair in front of it and pull down, then stand and pull out, and stand on it and pull up. i also did basic (& gentle) stretches where the body is the resistance, and then lots of walking (but on a flat treadmill with support bars). the rehab place i went to didn't have a pool, but water exercises are supposed to be a good way to do the walking and such if you have bad knees (walking and gentle resistance in the water using the water to help support weight)

  4. Have you tried a chiropractor yet? If not, you might want to consider that too. Some PTs consider chiropractic care and PT to be incompatible, but some don't, and most good chiros understand how much good PT can help. The trick is finding a size-friendly chiro; most are fine but some are toxic. Ask questions before you go.

    If you've tried chiro and it hasn't worked for you, you might want to try a different chiro; they are not all equally good and some use different processes.

    If that's still not working, acupuncture at least can help lessen the pain so you can do the PT work that needs to be done. Acupuncture is pretty good at helping lessen pain for many people.

    Of course, if you have the $$ to try it, bodywork (massage and related specialty bodywork) works well to enhance these therapies.

    I hope you start feeling better soon!

  5. Argh. I'm sorry you're having a sucky time! And if he thinks you shouldn't bend over then why not work on increasing your leg strength so you can squat down safely?

    Have you tried asking him what he would recommend to someone who is thinner/younger?

  6. They keep blaming my heart attack, sleep apnea and diabetes on me being fat. Doctors are soooo fat phobic and obtuse

    Now that I have yelled that out. You shouldn't be hurting THAT much from PT. This person should be LISTENING to what you have to say and not aggrivating all the other things that are wrong.

    Please, be careful with you.

  8. synj_munki - I have some of those stretchy bands, and told him that, but he didn't suggest any exercises I could do with them (I'll look at the books that came with them, maybe some of the exercises in them would work). I did some research online and found a set of exercises specifically for strengthening back muscles and they're actually short videos demonstrating each one, I may just cancel PT altogether and go with those and the bands and walking in the pool. At least at the motel, they have a hot tub so I can soak in it before and after and my muscles don't hurt after I've been standing/walking in the pool for an hour, not even the next day (and I know this because I've done it when DH and I stay at the motel when we go visit my son and his family, and that's what I do there).

    Well-Rounded Mama - I'll have to get my Medicare handbook out and see if they will pay for a chiropractor, and see if TriCare covers that, too. There are a couple of them here in town, but I've never been to them (the last time I went was back when I was working, job before last, and it was for the nerve damage in my feet from the steel-toed shoes I had to wear). As painful as my back is to touch, I'm not sure I want anyone working on it, especially if they want to manipulate my spine. But it may be worth checking out.

    living400lbs - Yeah, I asked him about strengthening my knees so it would be easier to get out of chairs (my knees don't want to lift me at all if whatever I'm sitting in, the seat is less than 20" off the floor (DH usually gives me his hand and helps pull me out, or I spread my feet apart, lean back, and then throw myself forward and let the momentum of my weight lift me up). That would also help with going up and down stairs, but he ignored that.
    Yeah, I asked about the younger/thinner person and he said he's told them everything he had told me, except the weight loss, so I guess his attitude is no pain, no gain, even though he also said the pain is my back's way of telling me something's wrong (no shit sherlock). I want to know how more pain is going to get rid of current pain.

    Fat Bastard - Yeah, fat is a good scapegoat when they don't really want to take enough time to figure out what's really wrong. Just like my PCP said physical therapy for my back, no need for an MRI to see if it's a pinched nerve or spinal stenosis, because they only do back MRIs if you're going to have back surgery (and no, I don't even want to go that route, once you start, it can mean more surgeries and doesn't always do any good).

    Khat - I'm going in on Tuesday to see him again, and I'm going to tell him about the pain I was in when I got home, and the pain the next day that was worse than normal. Then I'm going to tell him that I tried the exercises on Saturday (3 times, doing the stairs to the basement where our bedroom is) and that I was in more pain on Saturday than normal, and I'm in more pain than normal today, so no more of that shit for me. If he insists that I keep up that particular exercise, then he can kiss my fat ass, and I'm done, I'll do it on my own with the videos I found (I'm going to see if I can download them to a DVD and then I can play them on the DVD player in my bedroom and do them on the bed). And I'll do the Pilates bands I have, and walking in the pool, and to hell with him and his causing more pain to get rid of the pain.
    I'll make those suggestions to him and see what he says, but if he can't come up with anything better, then he's fired.

  9. I'm so sorry you are going through this. Wish there was something I could do to help. I don't know how you are standing it. Hope you get some help/relief soon.

  10. Thanks, Kat. I'm going back tomorrow and let him know how much pain I was in Friday evening, and then again on Saturday. Sunday wasn't too bad, but I didn't do the exercises that day, DH's brother from California was coming to visit and DH hadn't seen him in 16 years or so, so I had a house to clean, dishes to do, laundry to get done, and on it, so who had time to exercise? I finally quit hurting as much today, but my knees just didn't want to bend enough without hurting (darn rain and cold - who expects it to be 48 degrees and rainy in June?). So I'll see what he has to say tomorrow and go from there.


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