Today I woke up early to go to the physio gym. I’m supposed to do this two or three times a week (a mixture of Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). Over all the many Easter/Royal Wedding/May Day holidays, the gym was closed. It was a good two weeks without going. When I went back, it was more painful than usual, having gotten back out of practice.
That’s one of the things about physio. It’s not just going to the normal gym and working out. It’s going to a gym and teaching your joints to work in ways they don’t want to. It’s selectively making bit stronger to trick your body. Two weeks away from that, and the bits all go back to doing their party tricks — kneecaps go all wonky and off to the side, ankles collapse in. Everything gets seized up.
So I went back and it hurt. Then last week time got away from me, I had other things on, and just generally didn’t get around to going to physio. One week off isn’t too bad, I told myself. In all the other times I’ve gone through physio (well, physical therapy… it was back in the US), I’ve had a week off here or there. It’s normal to. Life doesn’t always give you time for getting to wherever the physio gym is every single week, no matter how hard you try.
I missed Monday this week, thanks to a great BBQ on Sunday. Still, it was fine. I was going to go in today and Friday, which was cool.
Today I got up with the alarm at 7:40. Came downstairs, had a coffee, watched some news. Made two coffees to go and woke Adam up. Got there, told Adam I wouldn’t push myself too hard, so would be finished after half an hour or so (the gym sessions are an hour, but I can normally finish my exercises in about 45 minutes). I went in, he drove off.
I followed the blue tape on the floor to the physio area of the hospital. It was empty. A few of the staff were there, but the gym was empty. A hand-written sign declared a list of days the gym would be closed. I couldn’t take them all in. There must have been about 15 days in May and two more in June.
What a load of crap.
I phoned Adam and started walking towards the beach, where he goes to read and sip coffee while I’m in the gym. He picked me up along the way and we came home.
So now I’m sitting here, in pain. My knee has been particularly stiff lately (yeah, because I missed a load of time at physio). After standing for a good part of Sunday, it has been giving me even more trouble. Both knees hurt, but the left one hasn’t been at all right since we moved back in November. Too much time on my feet gets it even more angry at the world. When I stand up from my desk in a few minutes, it’s likely it will partially give out as I walk to the kitchen. The kneecap will shoot off to the outside and the knee itself will bend in towards my right leg. It will hurt.
If I’m lucky, my right ankle (the source of many amusing tales of injury and spontaneous falls in the street) will hold out until a few steps later. If the knee goes first and the ankle second, it just makes me walk a bit funny. If they both go at the same time, I have a gait somwhere between end of a triathlon runners and Bambi on ice.
I can accept that my knees and ankle are fucked. And if I choose to not go to physio, I can only blame myself. But days like today are just frustrating. I had to wait months to get into physio in the first place. Now with a few more weeks of the gym being closed, it’ll be like starting all over again. All the work I’ve done in the past couple months is already pretty well gone. If anything, I’ve gotten worse since I started. I was just about getting to the point where you start to notice a benefit from the pain and swelling when they closed for Easter. Now they’re closed again. I love having the NHS, but at times like this it gets difficult. Maybe they don’t worry about the physio patients getting upset. After all, it’s not like we can run after them if we see them having time off.
Anyway, here’s a photo of me in December 2009, at the BRI emergency department, after the third sprain of the same ankle. I ended up seeing the same doctor I’d seen three months earlier for the second one. Now I don’t even bother with the doctor. I got some nice crutches out of that visit, though.