Friday, November 2, 2007

Putting the PT in PITA

Physical Therapy. I need it, yet hate it. My quest to find the person responsible for me being able to row winter conditioning was complicated and had repercussions I wouldn't realize until today. Originally, I was going to see the PT who trains with my tri club. I wanted someone who was sports oriented, not someone who spent their days rehabilitating hip replacements. Someone who understood the demands of the sports I was trying to get back to, and who could tailor my treatment to facillitate that. Problem was, her office was so deep in trafficland it was unreachable except by helicopter. The second problem would become evident later.

Names witheld to protect the guilty:
Since I was clearly not going to be able to get to her office, and certainly not in a timely manner for the next 8 weeks, she recommended I see another PT with her practice at a location closer to my office and easier to reach. When I was supposed to have the appointment with her, I was a little more than 3 weeks out of surgery. Time to start therapy. The new PT was not able to get me in until almost a week from that date and only scheduled me for my initial consultation. First clue. The PT took some basic measurements using a huge protractor, then after a little bit passed me off to a PT Assistant for the second half of my appointment. Second clue. I also was uncomfortable with the fact that PT was carried out entirely in a common space. How they were managing to skirt around HIPAA, I have no idea. Then, I go to make the rest of my appointments and was told they couldn't get me in to see my PT again for ten days. Third clue, and I can solve the puzzle: Q_U_A_C_K_S

It was fairly obvious they were a body shop, they didn't care about their patients, which was evidenced by the fact that this was a critical time in my recovery to regain range of motion and they had no concerns about my not being seen for a long time, or concerned about keeping me with one PT.

Progress is measured in range of motion gained over each session. measuring it is a little soft, and everyone has quirks. Seeing one PT over time minimizes confounds in the measurements. Not to mention, there is a degree of trust involved.

So back to the doctor I went:

Doctor: Where are you looking for an office?
Me: Either X or Y.
Doctor: Why Y?
Me: My boyfriend lives there.
Doctor: Do I need to tell your parents?
Me: Is this a trick question?

Then the admission of guilt:

Doctor: Why do you go see a PT at Quacks are us?
Me: I knew someone there.
Doctor: Was it on the list of recommended therapists?
Me: Is this a trick question?

So the good Dr. gave me a contact for a legitimate PT. They were polite, made my whole bank of appointments at once, tried to keep me with the same therapist, and spent a lot of time talking about my injury, the surgery, what my goals were, and generally getting to know my health history. They are great.

The caveat is that since I got started with a competent therapist so late, my shoulder had already started freezing. We have only been able to make marginal progress in regaining range of motion. Which led to to today. 8 weeks after surgery. Signaling while driving, getting dressed, washing my hair, are all difficult if not impossible. The membrane holding my shoulder in place has overachieved and fused itself to places it shouldn't have, causing frozen shoulder. The first step to thawing it is to stretch and heat or ice. That was the last three weeks. Now, we come to the fun part, forcing it to move until literally it rips free. It makes a sound like a pair of pants splitting up the back, and is excruciatingly painful.

All in all I wouldn't recommend it. Friday, I almost threw up from the pain, today I almost passed out.

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