Medically Sanctioned Torture


On countless TV shows over the years, physical therapy has been equated to legalized torture. Large women (usually Swedish) grab aching appendages and yank them into unheard of positions “for your own good”. Patients’ pleas for mercy fall onto deaf ears as these Nordic giants go unflinchingly about the business of rehabilitation. Only upon full recovery – miraculously achieved within a half hour episode – do patients see the light and shower their torturers with praise. Given such auspicious expectations, saying that I was unexcited about “torture-therapy” might be a wee bit of an understatement.

As such, I walked into the physical therapy office Tuesday morning with an almost overwhelming sense of dread. My ears pricked up waiting to hear the screams of fellow torturees. I finally decided that the PT office walls must be insulated in order to keep patients from fleeing before their appointments, thereby cheating Kaiser out of yet another $10 copay. After shading in a picture of “where it hurt”, ranking my pain on a scale of 1 to 10 (!@$#ing unimaginative ranking system!), and answering questions about my sleeping habits, a diminutive older Indian woman came to take me back to the torture chamber.

As she walked me through a series of questions and exercises, it became apparent that my fears of a bruiser-therapist were unfounded. Sort of. There is some truth to the thought that size does not equal power. While my therapist did not have the statuesque blondness or accent of those women on TV, her soft spoken, quiet demeanor was but a calm facade for her skill at pulling my arm into a variety of interesting, hitherto unimaginable(aka painful) positions. With weird plastic protractor in hand, the doc bent and flexed my broken arm repeatedly, noting angles which meant nothing to me but apparently spelled my imminent doom (or an obvious lack of flexibility…whichever).

We then moved on to the “How Many Hurty Exercises can Jamie Remember” Game, which I am expected to practice at home, at work, on the road, etc. I won’t go into all the details of the routine, but suffice to say there are numerous styles and iterations, and all are less than comfortable. After having one to many “I’ll do that one when my arm doesn’t hurt so much” thoughts, I came to the conclusion that I’m going to have to suck it up. Realistically there will never come a time when my arm feels good enough to do these exercises easily. That’s the point of physical therapy, right? Siiiiiigh. So…I’m trying, but it certainly doesn’t feel any easier yet.

There are a couple of bright points. For one, my PT doc was significantly more impressed with my range of motion that the surgeon which made me feels much better about my bicep curl progress. I’m also fully enjoying daily hot showers (minus any arm covering apparatus), which help relax some of the tension doing the evil exercises builds up. And lastly, for the next five days – starting tomorrow – I get to do this torture routine in between enjoying all the delights that sunny Hawaii has to offer. Yep, it’s time to head out and play cheerleader for my cycle crew in Honolulu (such a hard life, no?)! Wish us luck – GO TEAM!

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What do we have here?

An often sarcastic, occasionally humorous journal of my training adventures in preparation for the Livestrong century ride. I took up cycling back in '07 in hopes of meeting new people, and, with the help of Team in Training, making my small positive difference in the world -- and haven't stopped spinning since. Follow along as my Trek road bike and I try and hash out our differences, hopefully with me upright and in the saddle.

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