For a while now, I’ve been getting physical therapy two or three times a week at a Lawrence Hospital PT office in Eastchester, in a building that was a bowling alley when I was a kid. My therapist is known as Tintin, because she’s one of a number of Christines and so each gets her own handle.

Last night was typical. Arrive at 6. Fifteen minutes of heat on elbow and hand. Then Tintin works on my hand. This consists of rubbing and stretching each of my fingers. The index and middle fingers are in relatively good shape, but the ring finger and pinkie are another story. It may not seem like much, but these won’t bend enough to touch my palm. So she works on them and works on them. Over time, they are getting better, but the pain is pretty intense right at the joints. Indeed, I seem to be the only patient who regularly vocalizes pain and have been known to mutter “fuck” and “shit” half under my breathe at certain moments.

Then it’s to a computer, on which they have games! Balls drop and you have to move the basket to catch them, using different devices for work the wrist. Then there’s soccer goalie. Here you have a device that you operate by closing your hand. It’s calibrated for your maximum grip-strength. My left hand is 85. My right, 8. The goalie goes over to block PKs depending on how hard you press. So that’s fun.

Then the tough part. The elbow. Tintin raises the bed so I can scoot my chair below it and put my elbow on the bed like an arm-wrestler. She manipulates the muscles and then stretches the lower arm down. She calls over one of the assistants, Dana, to hold my shoulder because I can’t keep it back. Calling me “Hon,” she warns me not to fight. Suffice it to say, it is painful, but mostly from the feeling that the muscle is stretched as far as it can go.

Finishing with a game of pick up the grains of rice, literally, then cold packs and two hours after I arrive I’m done. It sucks.

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