“do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?”

I’m easily frustrated. Always have been. As with my addiction, over time, it gets worse, never better. I have good days where things don’t affect me much. Not as many as when I was younger though.

On my next to last physical therapy session I was instructed to make a doctors appointment for the following week. I was to schedule it immediately after my final pt session and hand deliver to the bone doc their “report”. Made sense to me. Then, two days later, the pt told me I was done and to come back if I had any problems.

Why did the plan change so dramatically in just 48 hours? All I can figure is the pain rating survey thing I filled out at the beginning, and again, 10 minutes or so before they cut me loose. I started to question them about the change, but instantly realized that a) they really know what they’re doing, or b) they have no idea what they’re doing. In either case there was no sense trying to reiterate, yet again, what my pain was like or to get anything like a straight answer out of them.

At any rate, my back may be a tiny bit better. It may be a tiny bit worse. The pt repeatedly told me how good I was doing in improving my strength and flexibility. Wonderful. But none of that’s helping with the pain problem and I’m not interested in taking up gymnastics. I told them all, repeatedly, that the pain is intermittent. Reaching is what triggers it. Not lifting. Not sleeping. Not reading. Reaching.

So I left their offices feeling like I’d wasted my time and money. (A considerable amount of both.) I was frustrated, maybe even hurt, that I couldn’t articulate the nature of my problem or that they couldn’t understand what I was telling them. A sort of resignation was setting in as I pulled from their parking lot and I was pretty sure I was about to have a run in with depression.

Before I’d gone a quarter mile a young woman sped right up behind me, tailgating me, like so many people tend to do now. I was about to get pissed and hit the brakes. Then I saw her Jack Russell hanging his head out the passenger side window, face to the wind, fur blowing back, and appearing to grin. At that instant I knew all was right with the world. I find what I need in the oddest places.

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2 Responses to ““do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?””


  1. 1 etta April 18, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Hey PJ-

    As a PT, I can tell you most of us know what we are doing, but like any profession there are good ones and bad ones. From what you describe, your PT sounds like a good one. She did what she could, and if you continue with the strengthening and stabilization exercises she gave you, over time they will likely make a difference. Therein lies the problem–OVER TIME. Back pain is a nebulous (yup, had to get the dictionary out for that one) thing. PAIN is a nebulous thing, but back pain especially. PT’s are primarily teachers, and it sounds like she taught you some good stuff, but it is consistency and follow thru that will make ya’ or break ya’. If the pain continues, you may consider a specialized pain clinic where the focus is on the pain and how to live with it. Just a thought…

  2. 2 Greybeard April 18, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    Hi etta,

    I looked it up and yes, it’s nebulous. When it’s hurting someone could (and has) probe my back for the spot, but it doesn’t work that way. It just hurts all-around-in-there-somewhere. Yeah, nebulous.

    You’re probably right. I really like the PT. The PTA, not so much. But they never explained to me that we were going for “progress not perfection”. I don’t know anything about pain except which pills are the best. Maybe I thought I would be healed!

    Thank you for the insight. Hope you’re well today.


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