This afternoon has been full of revelation. I’m not going to label it good or bad. Labels suck. Revelation is simply an awareness of truth. And truth has no bias.
Revelation 1: My hip has not functioned properly for over a third of my life.
It’s true. I broke my hip when I was 18. January of 2005. And the hip I broke was actually my good one. My right hip is the one that gave me trouble all the way through high school. Then BAM. Freshman year of college. I break the left one.
Over 10 years have passed and I’m now 29. 18 year-old Brittany would have never imagined this life for herself. And honestly, that’s probably a good thing. I’m not sure she could have handled the truth. She would have never let this happen. She would have definitely done things differently. And that makes me sad. Because believe it or not, I like my life. She would call me crazy.
I’ve tackled the last few weeks of physical therapy a little bit differently. I’ve very much been in the “do whatever they say, exactly as they say it” mode. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I have the best treatment team in the freaking world. But I think we all let ourselves get a little bit comfortable. Things got too routine. We were going through the motions. We’ve been doing it for 2.5 years, after all.
But about 2 weeks ago, I started playing a more active role in my physical therapy. If the last 10 years have taught me anything, it’s to be incredibly in tune with my body. I decided it was time to start communicating all that information, experience, and intuition to my physical therapist and PTA. And the result has been pretty impressive. Even after just 2 weeks.
Revelation 2: Therapy works best when you’re honest.
At first glance it’s discouraging. My transparency has meant scaling back on the exercises. I’m not even doing my 5 minutes of cardio. It sucks.
But. We’ve discovered something. I won’t get into the nitty gritty because it’s boring unless your invested in it. Basically, my hip flexor is doing the work that every other muscle in the abdominal, gluteal, and femoral region should be doing. In addition, my joint straight up just doesn’t glide the way that it should. It’s hard to say which came first and it really doesn’t matter anyway. All that matters is the fact that it’s pretty structurally jacked.
Like I said. At first glance it’s discouraging. But. With that knowledge comes the ability to address it. A month ago we were just going through the motions and it was sort of working. But at the end of the day, we were all doing what we needed to do because it was what we were told we needed to do. Now we’ve identified a problem. Which means there’s something to fix. That’s what I like to call direction. Which is a good thing.
It’s not as easy as it sounds. I can tell from the look in Rick’s eye…this isn’t going to be easy. “Brittany, we basically have to retrain your joint to move and stabilize properly.” Ok, I say. What can I do to help it? Or what can I stop doing to help it? Let’s do this, bro!
“I’m going to need some time to really think about it. I want you to give taping it another shot. I don’t know whether or not it will help at all. But it’s a start. And I’ll think and do some research and we’ll collaborate and we’ll take step 2.”
Like I said. At first glance, it’s discouraging. My physical therapist doesn’t even know what to do? Holy shenanigans.
But it’s starting to make sense. My hip has been “making do” for over 10 years. It’s picked up some bad habits as a means of coping. It’s done everything it could to survive and preserve its fundamental purpose. And it suffered a lot of damage as a result.
All this time I thought the purpose of therapy was to repair the damage. And it is. Don’t get me wrong. But I’m learning that therapy is WAY more than simply repairing the damage done along the way. It’s learning to move again. The right way. It’s breaking old habits and developing new ones.
When we first start walking, we fall a lot. But once we get the hang of it, we know it forever. We know how to walk. And most of us do it well. Until something happens that fills us with fear and makes us forget. And suddenly walking isn’t quite so easy anymore.
Revelation 3: Therapy is learning to walk again.
I hope by now you’ve realized that this post is about way more than me being in therapy to rehabilitate my hip following surgery. We’re talking life here, folks. LIFE.
When we find ourselves in a pickle, we try to “make do”. We cope…sometimes by using bad habits. We fight. We struggle to survive. To preserve a piece of ourselves in the midst of whatever trouble we’ve created. We do a lot of damage. We hurt ourselves. We hurt others. We started off so well. What went wrong? Suddenly…living the lives we dreamed of isn’t quite so easy.
We have to challenge the status quo and acknowledge the pain.
We have to be honest with ourselves and others to identify the source of the hurt.
We have to be willing to break out of what’s comfortable and enter into a process.
We have to recognize the damage we have done to both ourselves and others.
We have to work as a team and rely on each other, because no one person holds the answer.
We have to find ways of repairing the damage.
We have to identify healthy and unhealthy patterns.
We have to break old habits and develop new ones.
We have to wake up and daily commit ourselves to learning to walk again.
Therapy isn’t just a part of life that we subject ourselves to when we get injured or find ourselves suffering emotionally. Therapy IS life. Life is a therapeutic process. Be aware. Be willing. Be involved. If we play the cards right, we get to learn, grow, and improve ourselves a little bit each day. So that today is better than yesterday, and tomorrow is better than today.
Walk today. Dance tomorrow.