Monday, January 12, 2009

in praise of PT

For the past several months I have been irritated by a disc problem in my lower back. That compressed disc was impinging on my sciatic nerve causing some irritation and occasional pain to radiate down my right leg. Nothing too severe, but an irritation made more difficult to cope with on top of the daily intrusion of PD in my life.

So I sought the advice of my doctor who recommended some physical therapy to see if that would alleviate the problem, if not outright cure it. My good fortune is that I have a Physical Therapist I could turn to who has helped me in the past for other problems with this aging body.

Chris, my PT, has the knowledge and insight to go straight to the heart of the problem, explain in plain terms that even I can understand what that problem is and why it is a problem, and what she is going to do about it and what she expects me to do. And while she is quite compassionate and understanding about the role Parkinsons Disease plays in my life, she is not about to cut me any slack when it comes to doing the exercises and stretching that she has prescribed for me. A bit of tough love goes a long way.

The result is that now after three weeks of twice weekly sessions with her, the disc problem and resulting sciatica are no longer the daily irritant that they were before she took care of me. Of course it took several sessions on the rack, pulling my spine apart and stretching me from my previous 5”9” stature to my now 6’2” height to accomplish that. She called the process of strapping me down with leather bindings around my shoulders and hips to a movable table “traction.” I called medieval. Whatever you choose to call it, it worked. And while achieving that 6’2” height is still really just a dream, I am standing straighter so that my actual 5’9” looks better than before.

Once again, all I can say to Chris is thank you for being there to set me back on course, to make my life more tolerable and less painful. She, and many other Physical Therapists like her, are true miracle workers who can make our lives better. I don’t know what I would do without her.

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