This is a continuation of Fall.
I arrive at physical therapy, enter the locker room, take off my shoes and socks, unstrap my brace, and change into my swim trunks; a time consuming process with little a knee that bends like there is a steel rod running through it. I enter the pool room and see that Jude, the PTA in charge of the pool, is still occupied with the older woman with the bad dye job and entirely too vocal opinions about things she little informed of; the cupric hue of her hair and the abrasive drone of her voice confirms that it is Monday morning. I have started drinking again and despite my efforts to conceal it I know the smell of cheap stale beer is escaping through my pores; I can’t really bring myself to care. Jude begins the usual assortment of questions by asking if I have taken any pain killers and what my pain level is. I like Jude, he’s a good guy who really likes people or if nothing else good at pretending that he really likes people; either way it makes him well suited for his job. We’ve gotten to know each other fairly well over the past few weeks, his family is from Haiti, but he grew up largely here in Florida, his dad is a chef, etc. I think he likes me, even if only due to the fact that I am not one of the regular remnants of the baby boom he has as clients, who always seem to know more about what they should be doing for treatment than someone who clearly has studied it professionally. I have, however, grown tired of these particular questions; I have repeatedly explained to him that I stop using any medications at least four hours prior to therapy so I can take some right after we’re through to fight the inflammation that results. I find the second question always perplexing. I am supposed to rate my pain on a scale of one to ten, I always feel like I am playing some sort of guessing game as I have only three levels of pain on my own yardstick:
- No pain.
- Pain I can tolerate.
- Get me to a god damned hospital!
Today I arbitrarily pick three out of ten, I haven’t really noticed him change my routine based on my answer.
I am early today, as directed by the mustache called Brent, or Trent, or whatever, in charge of my treatment. I am now supposed to start off every therapy session by using The Flexinator for at least fifteen minutes. This medieval contraption is essentially a vise that pushes my foot up towards my hip forcing the knee to bend, breaking up the internal scar tissue left over from surgery; the best part is that I have to manually crank it up there with a lever, instilling the illusion of control of how fast I might regain normal motion in my joint, increasing the likely hood that someone like myself would push their level of discomfort further and further in the naive hope that is was doing them good. Torquemada would be proud . I wonder why they never ask me about pain after I spend my time with this machine?
The water in the pool is just below body temperature and helps soothe the ache the torturous device has conjured in my knee; the underwater treadmill is still broken, as it has been since the day before I started my pool sessions. So, instead, I walk the length of it first forward and then backwards, the furious headache and sore muscles from the hangover I have makes keeping my balance a tough challenge. Today I am practicing standing on one leg with my eyes closed. Jude finds it amusing that when I attempt to do this with my uninjured left leg that I manage to spin a full three hundred sixty degrees while attempting to maintain my balance without knowing. While I am concentrating on my exercises Jude asks, “What are your goals for treatment?”
So it’s going to be this kind of day. I have reached a point of dealing my knee where keeping a positive a positive frame of mind is just to exhausting and now I can only hope that my attempts at paying lip service to questions such as these aren’t as transparent as they sound. To be honest I don’t even hear the answers that I give the therapists, nurses, and physician’s assistants that ask them anymore. It doesn’t help approach that I haven’t seen anyone with the letters MD after their name since I left the hospital, if they can’t be bothered to care why should I. So, in lieu of my actual verbal response to this tired old query I only hear my internal dialogue.
“I want to jump up out of this god damned pool, grab my cane, beat you to death with it and then be able to leg it, full speed away before the cops get here. I want to walk, I want to run, I want to jump. I look out of the floor to ceiling windows on the other side of the pool at the land therapy room and see all these other jack assed, shit bags on treadmills and stationary bikes and I want to be them, instead of dicking around in this piss warm water like a god damned little kid. I want to never have to strap on that fucking ugly, sweaty, and cumbersome articulated contraption of a brace ever again! I want to kick that relic of The Inquisition that I am killing myself on three times weekly, until it is smashed in a million pieces! I want to never have to hobble on in here again, or watch that mustachioed douche bag fiddle fuck around with his iPhone! That, my friend, are my goals for treatment!”
I don’t say any of this to Jude, because I like him and he is good at his job, and none of this is his fault.