Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Whitney Reed seems like such a nice lady. She’s kind and gentle with pleasant eyes and a soothing voice. Then you enter her gym. Whitney is one of the physical therapists at Roper St. Francis and she’s charged with making my 64-year-old hip feel like half its age. Turns out I have bursitis with bilateral muscle weakness, which basically means my right hip hurts. Her job is to make it feel better by putting me through a series of stretching exercises twice a week, then giving me physical homework for when I’m not under her watchful eye. The first thing I noticed when I entered this large rehabilitation room is that it’s filled with people with worse problems than mine. You know, people rehabilitating severely damaged knees and folks with serious back issues. I realized that, all in all, I’m pretty lucky. But getting old isn’t for sissies. When Whitney puts me into unnatural positions and tells me to pull or bend or stretch some sorely unexercised muscles, the sweat pops out on my forehead and my face contorts like I’ve been stabbed. “Challenging or painful?” she asked as she walked by during a recent appointment. “Good question,” I said with a wince as I pulled my leg across my body. “It’s a fine line. Let’s go with challenging.” I lied, but she liked that answer and gave me a few more exercises to do over a 45-minute session, of which there will be many more before she’s satisfied with my progress. The good news is we have a state-of-the-art facility for this stuff right here at Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital, near my home. And it’s filled with professionals like Whitney who are making life better every day for people suffering all manner of painful injuries, not to mention the wages of aging. “See you next week,” Whitney said as I iced down my hip after my workout. “Will that session be challenging or painful?” I asked. “Pain is weakness leaving the body,” she explained, pointing to a sign in the workout room that expresses that thought. “Great,” I said, as I clutched my homework instructions. “Challenging it is.” Contact Ken at firstname.lastname@example.org.