Friday, April 19, 2013

Physical Therapy

So I wanted to update you guys on my new physical therapy sessions. Until the beginning of this month, I was going to "physical therapy" (notice the scare quotes) at the public hospital where I had my surgery. It was not really physical therapy -- it was just a physical therapist's monthly evaluation of my progress. It's not that the physical therapists at the hospital are bad -- it's that (a) they have very limited resources and just don't have the time to sit with me for hours a week and help me get my strength back; and (b) it's a teaching hospital and it's the beginning of a new residency cycle (it started in March), so the few teachers on staff have to balance treating all of the patients and making sure their (currently useless) physical therapist trainees learn something.

I got sick of those sessions, and I was worried that my muscles were going to atrophy, so I got hooked up with a physical therapy center through my insurance. This place is a bajillion times better. It's like a physical therapy gym. There's an orthopedic surgeon and two physical therapists who run the place. I have one-hour sessions three-to-four times a week. I am one of only a few patients under the legal retirement age. This makes for some interesting though predictable conversations to eavesdrop on (their favorite thing to talk about is what trash the world is coming to; that's a conversation I can easily work myself into). I'm making friends with lots of old women.

They have little stations around the gym for different exercises. The station I use the most is essentially just a desk with an arm rest and these torture devices:


Those tools look innocent enough, but if you don't have full use of your hand and if your arm muscles can't lift more than 500 grams without getting sore and inflamed, these tools can become very daunting. 

The towel the equipment is resting on is also part of my session. I have to put my hand down flat on top of the towel and then twist it at the wrist counterclockwise and then clockwise, as if I were cleaning the desk or waving at somebody on the ground. Does that make sense? Sounds like nothing, but it hurts if you have a metal plate on the bend of your wrist.

That thing in the middle is death. The thing at the bottom is death. The thing in the middle is for squeezing. It hurts the muscles in and below my thumb. I have to hold the thing at the bottom of the picture and press each spring individually with each finger. My pinky finger can't do it yet but maybe one day soon, it will get strong enough.

I just started about 10 days ago, but the physical therapists informed me that we'd be starting with the fingers and hand and working our way down (up?) to the rest of the wrist, then the forearm, then eventually my now-scrawny bicep and tricep. 

The orthopedic surgeon at this place is also a part-time staff member of the public hospital where I had my surgery, so though he wasn't involved in it, he was familiar with my case from their meetings and also from hospital gossip (it's not every day they operate on a colleague's wife). After he tested out my movements and checked my x-rays, he told me I'm about as far as I'm ever going to get in terms of movement, but that I should eventually be able to get all my strength back.

The movement I lost hasn't affected my life so far. These are some random, unimportant things I may never be able to do again:

1. Hold up only 3 fingers on my right hand;
2. Do the cost-benefit / balance / weighing options hand movement (like this)
3. A push-up;
4. Use the mouse with my right hand;
5. Touch the inside of my palm with my pinky or my index finger; or
6. Completely straighten my index finger (I'd like to do this again -- it's kind of ugly right now).

One other thing I really can't do is Beyonce's Single Ladies dance:



Luckily, I am not a single lady and I have given up on wearing a ring anyway.

So I'm not going to worry about these silly movements. Instead, I'm going to stick it out at physical therapy with all of my new geezer friends. It hurts now, but it'll eventually hurt less and I'll be able to drive and carry groceries again. Oh, and the best part? My doctor in-laws work under the insurance company, so I'm still not paying anything. Viva Brazil.






Saturday, April 6, 2013

Goodbye, Google Reader

So I happen to know that many of you keep my blog on your Google Reader list. As you may know, Google Reader is shutting down soon. I wanted to let you know that you can use another similar site called Feedly.  You can also sign up to get my blog posts in your email using the right-hand sidebar on my blog. I don't think I am able to even see the email addresses of the people who sign up or how many people have signed up, so you will continue to remain anonymous.

Hope that helps! Happy Sunday. :)
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