Monday, August 9, 2010

The End of an Era

I dislocated my shoulder nearly three months ago (May 13) and started going to physical therapy for it about a week later. I have had P/T twice a week for an hour each session since that time. I canceled one session when we went to Rocking Horse Ranch for a long weekend back in late June, but that's it.

I am pretty certain that this upcoming week will be my last week of P/T. I can't imagine they think there's much more they can do. I have to really over-extend my arm to feel even so much as a twinge in the shoulder, now, and I started being able to throw overhand just this past week when Ian and I go out to play ball. I have no power behind my throws, and I can't yet throw far, but I can throw and not look like a girl doing it — other than when my moobs jiggle when I try to throw hard1. With normal, everyday movements, there is now no difference between my left (good) shoulder and my right. It's been that way for awhile, and each week I have experienced significant gains in overhead movements.

So I am, in all likelihood, as close to back-to-normal as my therapists can get me, and the rest of it, I imagine, will come with time.

I have mixed feelings about the imminent termination of my P/T: On the one hand, I want it to be over because it's tough and a bit of an intrusion on my usual schedule; but on the other hand, it gets me out of work (I go to P/T on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, which is when they had time for me), and these days, the less time I spend at work, the happier I am, by and large.

But all-in-all I think I'll really miss P/T because I have had some great times there. I really like my therapists — Andy and Tony (I mostly work with Andy) — and their assistants, Ian and Zach. I'm mostly there when Ian is working. Ian's a 21-year-old student, studying to become a physical therapist at a college in DE. He's a good kid, outgoing and fun to talk to.

I usually get there when either Andy or Tony is working with a young lady named Kate, who's as Irish-American as the day is long. She, too, usually works with Andy and loves taking the piss outta him, which Andy is all good humor about. He, in turn, will tease Kate relentlessly, while Ian and I, of course, get our own shots in from the sidelines. It doesn't matter to us who we take a shot at: You see an opening, you go for it.

The result is that there have been times when all of us — but especially Andy and me — have been on the verge of tears from laughter. It is not abnormal for my P/T session to end with one or more of us proclaiming, "I haven't laughed that hard in/since _____ [fill in the blank, but a good guess would be since last session]."

Andy likes to recommend movies and once he had recommended, I think, Up to Kate and Kate is what I like to call a classic misreader of movies. In the sense that if you tell her "Hey, this movie I just saw was really good, but really sad", she'll come back and say, "The main character in that movie was dying of brain cancer and my Dad had brain cancer and how could you possibly call that a good movie because since it had a bad association for me it is therefore objectively a bad movie."2 Because she was giving Andy infinite shit one day because he had let his 5-year-old watch Up and she appeals to me, saying "The wife dies in the first 15 minutes of that movie and don't you think that was inappropriate for kids to watch, too upsetting? This is a movie for kids? ... etc.?"

And I'm lying on the table while Andy's working on my shoulder and I'm like, "O, I dunno. Think back to how potentially traumatizing, say, the death of Bambi's mother was? That was probably worse than the death-by-old-age of the wife in Up."

And Kate's like, "But that's different! Those were animals!"

To which I immediately respond, "O, come on, Kate. They are fully anthropomorphized animals ..." and was about to go on to tick off the fact that they show human emotions and they speak and they have human-like relationships but I stop because I see Andy's eyes kinda go, "Guh?" and then light up with glee as he realizes that Kate is probably gonna have no more idea than he what "anthropomorphized" means and so he cuts me off loudly and says, "You know, he's right! They are that thing he said. And so how do you respond to that, Kate?"

Meanwhile, I'm lying face-up on the table and sputtering so hard with laughter that I'm practically spitting in Andy's face and Kate's all, "You guys are such jerks!" and Andy and I just kinda lose it.

And one time as Ian was removing the ice pack from my shoulder as I was getting ready to leave after my session, Andy somehow got to talking about the time his brother fell asleep on a subway train in NYC and evidently made it all the way back to the train yard before he woke up; but he'd fallen asleep in such an awkward position that his leg was not just asleep, but totally numb and he hears the train doors closing and he's screaming, "No, wait!" and Andy does this hysterically funny impression of what he feels his brother must have looked like desperately trying to make it to the door on one good leg before being locked in for the night and it was absolutely hilarious and I left that day barely able to speak and breathing heavy from laughter and with actual tears in my eyes. And when I get out to the parking lot I'm thinking, Any new patient, seeing me come out in this condition, is gonna think these physical therapist are the biggest, most painful bruisers in the biz.

Which of course set me off laughing again.

And so I know from reading Freud that patients often feel what he called "transference" with their psychotherapists — transference being, basically, the patient's becoming emotionally invested in the therapist. And a psychotherapist has to deal with and successfully resolve the potential transference before she can say the therapy is concluded.

And I'm wondering if I somehow am experiencing some sort of transference with my physical therapist.

And what about the potential counter-transference?

Well, I guess I'll just have to rely on the emotionally deadening power of a sucky job to kill any transference.
1 Which is a real pain in the mangina. But I do have nice, firm moobs.

2 This, of course, is a vast oversimplification  of her approach, but it captures the essentials of it. She would judge movies not on their merits, but on how they resonated with her on a purely personal level and you were supposed to just guess what she might find personally upsetting — which, her being a typical Irish woman, was a lot of stuff — and therefore "objectively" bad.


  1. I know a bunch of "Kates." I usually recommend movies to them that involve Irish mobsters or terrorists getting killed, just to get a reaction.

    Of course, "Forbidden Games" not only has a girl wandering the streets of Paris after seeing her parents killed - and carrying her dead dog with her, I might add! - but has mental illness and the horrors of war to recommend it, plus it's subtitled and we all know how much Americans like to read their movies, so that's have to be my first choice.

  2. poor, sad, gq!
    just think - 2 weeks and we'll be sailing off into the sunset w/hot tubs and bacon and twisty slides and treadmills w/an ocean view!
    does that cheer u up?
    oh! and there'll always be more beer volleyball + beer softball (and that just might = more p/t)
    love, teh bride

  3. If you have to go through painful physical rehabilitation, it is best to be in that kind of environment. Laughter is the best medicine after all.

    Don't be too sad, G. I'm sure your kankle runs will screw something else up eventually and you'll be back there in no time. :)

    P.S.--Geordie and I will never get it on. He's gay and has a very cool partner. I'm his beard. ;)

  4. I personally WAS traumatized by Bambi and have hated Walt Disney's misogynist ass, along with his entire money grubbing legacy, ever since.

    And do not even get me started on Old Yeller!

    I would have made sure that son of a bitch wore his nutsack as a scarf for that one. (if, of course, said nutsack had not already turned to dust 40 years ago)

    Oooh! Another Heisenberg vacay on the horizon. Can't go wrong with bacon and twisty slides!

    Treadmills with an ocean view? Please tell me you are not going somewhere beautiful and going to run on a fucking treadmill again? I may lose all respect for you.


  5. Rather than transference, can you say "Stockholm Syndrome?"

  6. I always suspected you go for it whenever you see an opening. Wasn't Tony your man last go round? Now you're bonding with Andy and Ian. You are a whoo-er. Don't worry. You'll do something foolish and be back with the next set of therapists before you know it.