It took a little while after I started walking to get the work comp approval to start physical therapy. I was nervous, but also excited. Husband kept warning me that it would be painful, but I assured him that it was different now since he had it as a kid, that they had better, less painful ways, bahahaha.
Husband showed up for my first appointment, which really focused on the intake and teaching me a few range of motion exercises to do with my ankle. I was like “oh, this is easy” that didn’t last long though.
I had one solid week of PT before our beach trip with friends. It was painful and tough trying to get my knee to move over my ankle. You see you have to rest your leg in order for your ankle to heal…but at the same time all of your muscles completely atrophy or develop scar tissue and become stiff from disuse.
I wanted to cry so much, and I did the first time I officially worked with my physical therapist, I think because I had allowed myself to believe it would be something different than it was. I joked and I said, through sniffles that I couldn’t hold back, “tears are supposed to prove that you are strong right?” I felt slightly comforted by the fact that there was no way that I was the first person who had cried in front of him. He said, “tears mean you worked hard” He’s kind of a no nonsense hard to read type, so I treasure that he said that.
The first month of PT I was able to meet many of the therapists including some assistants. I enjoyed distracting myself from the painful massages by asking them about themselves, especially what caused them to want to get into the field. It was neat to hear their passions in their answers. One of the PTA’s I’ve gotten to know the best used to do ballet and was going to try to be a professional ballerina in Richmond I think, before she had an injury. I really enjoy working with her as well because she has a similar bubbily personality to me, she’s easy to talk to, and very encouraging at any progress that I make.
Most of the physical therapists will apologize or check in about the level of pain that they have to cause me while working on my ankle. My main went out of town again and the one who was left to fill in said, “So your PT left me some notes to work on you with….I’m sorry” None of them hurt my ankle as much as my main PT so I just laugh it off.
Physical therapy has been an interesting journey, and my PT warned me that its easier to make progress in the beginning, then many people reach a plateau and they become stuck. In the beginning it was incredibly painful but I could marvel over each step. Today was the first day that I walked across the room, today was the first day that I balanced on my bad foot 3x for 30 secs, today my knee moved a little farther over my ankle, etc.
Unfortunately, the thing that seems to work the best to help me bend my ankle back (dorsiflexion) is the graston method. Basically, they take this thin steel bar (think butter knife sized) and some oil type stuff, and literally rug burn scrap into your stiff muscles. I was so proud of myself for not crying during that or asking the PT to stop. It really feels like they are cutting into your skin, or its like the most intense zit popping pressure you’ve ever felt. However, my ankle works so much better after.
Here’s to finding my motivation to do my exercises well at home to be able to get back as much range of motion as possible and decrease overall ankle pain while walking.