Joining the physio brigade- and I’m grateful

This week you may have seen a group post on adventures in rehab by a bunch of our bloggers and friends.  Sam’s getting treatment for her knee, and several friends chimed in about knees and backs and shoulders and necks, along with a bunch of commenters.

Let me now officially add my name to the list.  I’ve been referred to physical therapy for a (hopefully still only partially torn) rotator cuff injury, which I’ve had for about 7 years.  I got it while riding my cyclocross bike off-road.  Going down a hill on a single-track trail, my front brake cable suddenly broke.  This is a bad thing.  In addition, there was a new-to-me large log across the trail at the bottom of the hill.  I tried to lay the bike down before hitting the log, but it didn’t go according to plan. I went flying over the handlebars, landing left shoulder first.  Very ouchy.

I got imaging done, and luckily it was only a partial tear.  The distinction is important.  I got a full-thickness tear of my right rotator cuff in 2008, that time during a mountain bike race.  I stalled in a rock garden and tried to restart (mistake– just run it through and then remount).  Instead I ended up endo’ing and landed (you guessed it) on my shoulder.  Ouchy.  I had surgery to get it fixed in 2009.  The surgery lasted about 90 minutes, but the recovery and physical therapy took about 9 months to complete.  Blech.  However, it did get fixed, and it’s fine now.  Yay!

The partial tear responded to PT years ago, and remained dormant until last August.  I’ve been having pain in my left shoulder, radiating up to my neck.  It hurts when I drive or type on a computer or sit back in a chair.  It is hurting now as I type.  Blech.

I had hoped doing a bunch of yoga would help.  It does help– I feel stronger.  But I still have pain while typing or driving, just not as bad.

So I finally dragged myself off to the orthopedist, whereupon he said, “it’s definitely the rotator cuff”.  I go for an MRI soon to check its progress.  If it’s still partial, I can avoid surgery.  If not, I will need surgery.

In the meantime, physical therapy will help.  So I’m embarking on a 2–3x/week trip for six weeks.  This is reality when you’re an active person.  This is also an example of privilege in action.  A friend of mine who relies on Medicaid for insurance had to stop physio for her knee because of the limitations of coverage.  And in the US, now that a drastic tax reshuffling bill may be on the way to becoming law (stuffed with other initiatives as well, including suspending the insurance mandate for the Affordable Care Act), this privilege will be available to fewer and fewer Americans.

Fitness really is a feminist issue.  So is physical therapy.   In order to maintain well-being and enjoy our lives and our bodies, we need help sometimes– physical therapy, surgery, medical devices, imaging, examinations and followup, and support.  I am grateful that I have a job and that my employee health insurance covers my health care needs.  I’m also grateful that I live in a state (Massachusetts) with some of the best and comprehensive health coverage in the US.  I will hope that the US, and also other US states, will look at the example of other countries and see the benefits of providing health care so that everyone can continue to move in ways that support their lives and their needs.

It’s been a tough week here.  Not for me and my shoulder– we’ll both be fine.  It’s been a tough week for health care, and for people who need their bodies to work (sometimes really hard and for long hours).  I feel like I’ve been hit.  Hard.  Time to work on getting stronger, because my strength (along with all of our strength) is going to be needed to fix problems much greater than a torn ligament.

Time to get in training, folks.  Time to repair, recover, strengthen, and then get out there to do what we can and what we want and what we must.

Text saying "I'm in a good place right now. Not emotionally. I'm just at the gym."
Text saying “I’m in a good place right now. Not emotionally. I’m just at the gym.”

3 thoughts on “Joining the physio brigade- and I’m grateful

  1. From here in Australia, where we have free medical services, I CANNOT believe what America is deciding to do re the health tax laws. Oh wait, yes I can- look who got voted in as President. Y’all need to be rioting in the streets.

    1. Yes, you’re right! It’s terrible, and we have done some demonstrating, but not so far with torches and pitchforks. Clearly we need to up the ante here. And enjoy the beginning of summer– I spent a sabbatical in Sydney OCt–Dec of 2015, and it was fantastic!

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