Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Miracle of Physical Therapy

I have been receiving guidance for Physical Therapy on and off for 15 months now. It began in August 2007 when I was able to begin to move my body again -- after my spine collapsed, and chemo began, and my bowel shut down, and I was in the hospital. All that. I couldn't move my body very much 18 months ago, and it really is true that our muscles lose their strength very quickly if not used regularly, so I began PT after 2 months of little activity.

I still remember learning to walk again in August 2007, and the visiting nurse was with me in the house checking that there was a clear path for me to walk, with nothing to trip over or get in the way. When she said to me, "You're walking slowly to be careful, right?", I remember replying, "No, this is as fast as I can walk."

And when the PT began at the same time, I was given simple isometric exercises. Some to do when I was lying in my lift chair before getting up, and others to do when I was standing. Exercises to strengthen my muscles, and to begin to stretch them. Always with the reminder to tighten my abs. Of course, I was on prednisone at the time, and one side effect of it is that one has no strength in the abdomen muscles. None at all. And if I didn't tighten those muscles, my back would get tired and sore and strained from lack of support...

So it was very interesting last week to visit my former chiropractor, Linda, who has training in Physical Therapy. I explained my great concern to her, that my lowest rib is almost in contact with my pelvis. She gave me some exercises to do, and instead of saying to tighten my abs, she said to imagine someone was going to tickle me, and me tightening the muscles near my belly button in response. That this would trigger the contraction, and ultimate strengthening, of the muscles in my lower and middle back. I realized that I haven't been tightening the muscles near my belly button as much as the muscles in my lower abdomen.

And already, after doing these new exercises, I can tell a difference in my body. I have more strength and less pain in my back. Where there had been little change over months, I have now noticed a positive improvement in just 1 week. Thank you Linda -- you are a miracle worker! I am now hopeful that my muscles will soon provide greater support for my back, and also greater support for my rib cage. Maybe even help lengthen my spine, and increase the distance between my lowest rib and pelvis. Now that would be a miracle.

I think I'll expect a miracle! After all, why not?

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