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Confessions of a Physiotherapy Session

Following on from my recent total knee replacement surgery, I undertake Physiotherapy sessions to help with my recovery.  Today’s blog entry describes my recent experience of one such session.

My taxi drops me off outside the Physiotherapists reception, where I struggle to get out of the car using the door frame for balance, lifting my leg using my clothing to get it out of the car whilst trying to ensure my crutches don’t damage his paintwork.  The taxi driver enjoys a WhatsApp conversation with someone…

The bright white automatic doors of reception slide back making a satisfying “ahhhhh” sound as though they had achieved it’s greatest thing today, with each slide just as satisfying as the last, these doors don’t get bored of their only function in life…

I arrive to a well-lit and clean reception with just a couple of people sat in smart chairs waiting to be called.  I announce myself at the desk and greeted by a friendly lady who’s already pulled up my details and confirms I’m “All checked in”.  I seat myself slowly on the raised chair, with crutches in hand and hospital air boot protecting my damaged foot and ankle.

A few moments later I’m called by the physiotherapist, she’s young, slim and full of youthful energy and enthusiasm that I only reminisce about, as I’m instructed to ascend two flights of stairs to her treatment room…  I’m surprised a lift wasn’t available… It takes me 10 minutes to painfully make my way up the winding staircase, one excruciating step at a time clinging on to the bannister rail and hoping I don’t slip, and more importantly I don’t break wind as the Physio who is following behind watching my every move…

Finally, I reach the top and enter an old poorly lit room, tired décor with massage table bolted firmly in its centre, a bunch of Victorian looking torture instruments, the skeleton of the last non-compliant patient and a desk with an Apple MacBook Air with two chairs. (ahh Apple, there’s hope!)

The therapist takes no time in telling me to disrobe (from the waist down), I remove my socks, Sweat-Pants (since my leg is so swollen I can’t get into a pair of jeans) and stand vulnerable and part naked with just my Polo-Shirt, under crackers and a pre-emptive nervous smile…

Then… I’m taken completely by surprise as she pushes me up against the wall, drops to her knees, puts one hand around my bad leg and then starts tugging… gently at first and then longer, harder, deeper with each stroke…  At this point the only thing going through my mind is ….

“I hope she doesn’t let go!”

What were you thinking?  Take your mind out of the gutter! This isn’t Fifty Shades of Phsyio 😀 The therapist was using an oversized elastic band wrapped around the back of my knee and applying a force that the bad knee had to resist… I noticed that the band wasn’t securely wrapped around her hand, all that was going through my mind was if she let go, that’s

  1. Gonna hurt!
  2. I may be singing Soprano for a week or two.
  3. I’m going to look odd carrying my gonads around in a wheel barrow!

I’m invited over to the massage table and asked to lay down with both knees elevated towards the ceiling and asked to clench my bum, using my core to lift myself off the bed in a short thrusting motion, about 10 reps into this exercise, again I’m thinking “Please don’t fart, please don’t fart”… and then it happens….

Just as she grabs my bum and gives it a warm but firm squeeze…. Paarrrrrrp…..

We both went bright red as she apologised profusely explaining she was checking I was working the muscles and should have warned me/asked permission before doing so.  I laughed as I was then told to get off the table and stand up using the table for balance whilst trying to stand on Tip Toes…

“what happened next caught me by surprise.”

My experience of Physiotherapy so far is that each week they find new and creative ways of punishing muscles you never knew you had with different exercises.

Given the issues I’ve had since my knee replacement and ankle pain, I’ve been increasingly concerned that this is now me, someone who struggles with stairs, trouble with sitting and standing up from low sofas/chairs with reliance on sticks and aids to get about.

I ask “Given the length of time since surgery, is this who I am now?”

In my mind I feel that my mobility issues are a punishment for not finding a solution/cure for my late wife’s cancer, the guilt of not being able to save her still plays on my mind every minute of the day.  If so, I can accept this, its nothing compared to the pain that Janice suffered and endured, as she smiled daily facing her inevitable fate.

But what happened next caught me by surprise.

She asked…

“Do I think the world see/treat fat/overweight people differently?”


I responded by saying that people will always pre-form an opinion/judgement on someone based on their appearance.

Whatever my size doesn’t mean I’m a different person or any less capable of doing my job.

The conversation that followed was interesting since there’s clear prejudice in the health system to people who are overweight.  These prejudices seem to be irrespective of each individual’s circumstances, contribution to the welfare of their country, or type of role they perform etc.

I could take this conversation in many directions but not today.  You could take a look at

She expresses concern about whether I’m eating healthily, and of course cooking for one isn’t fun, especially when the only things I can cook (loosely described) is to reheat ready-made meals for one from the supermarket, or cereal/toast!

I was asked if I would re-marry (a common question Widow(ers) are asked). My response surprised me.

I explained what is the point of finding love again, especially as I am still so very clearly in love with my late wife.

With that aside, I explained there’s no point opening your heart to anyone again only to see them die, or for them to see you die.  Statistically half the population will have some form of cancer if reports and findings are to be believed

I don’t think I’m capable of loving again… My heart couldn’t take it.  Why should I be happy when Janice isn’t here to share in these new experiences?  I explained to her my theory of the absurdity of life (one for another blog) but why care that much again for someone knowing its futility, that ultimately it leads to heartache and grief?

No, I have to protect my heart, my soul, build the barriers, build the walls so I don’t have to experience this again, and to protect others from experiencing this too…

At 14 months, 7 days 2 hours and 17 minutes into this journey, I cannot shake the feeling that I’m lost, dead on the inside and just waiting… Waiting for what I don’t know… but it’s like I need to be ready for something and just wait…

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