127. How to Enjoy the Rehabilitation Process


Going to Planet Rehab was my idea. Actually, going back to Therapy in general was my idea and I had it in my head that I wanted to go to NRH since A (6) had left The Place and I don’t like going back to my old hospitals anyway. It was my VT peeps who referred me to J (29) at a local branch of NRH and I eventually got transferred downtown to work with M (37) since they have oodles of equipment in the gym, and I (against my original intentions) asked to be strung up in a harness.

That’s right. I went from “I’m not doing that,” to “Will you please string me up in that thing so I won’t fall off the treadmill?” My, we’ve come a long way. I’ve been thinking about the change in my attitude about the rehab process and I understand now that as my agency has grown, so has my enjoyment. Agency = the capacity, condition or state of exerting power (m-w.com). I learned to use that word in my undergraduate years from one of my English Profs who was always looking out for agency in Austen texts. I made you a helpful “graph” up top to illustrate, although I’m thinking the x-y axes should be reversed. Let’s pretend like they are. I used physical therapy since it was/is the most grueling form of rehabilitation for me, but I think the agency – enjoyment relationship pervades all therapeutic disciplines.

A= I’m dreaming, but E (1) is nice so I’m going to do what she tells me.

B = Whatever, buddy. You’re not real anyway. But A (2) keeps on showing up to make me go to the gym (!). AND he knows where my room is (!!).

C = I’m here because my last hospital set this up and apparently this guy (A – 6) is going to teach me how to walk. P.S. I’m totally using my core.

D = I chose to be here. I ❤ PT and M (37) is a peach.

My situation is that I have an obvious need for rehabilitation. I have met many others whose need is not so obvious – I even saw someone who came to therapy in business formal garb, obviously stealing a few hours from the office. There are lots of reasons one could have to go to therapy – brain injury, slipped discs, knee/hip replacement, etc. And there are several levels of engagement ranging from “I need to do this to learn how to walk again” to “Let’s get this over with so I can proceed with my day.”

I’ve experienced the entire spectrum, and these are the things I’ve remembered to increase my agency/enjoyment of the rehabilitation process.

1) You might not have chosen to be at therapy (your Doctor, spouse, parent might make you go), but you can choose what kind of patient to be.

2) Your therapist is just doing his/her job – (s)he might have a family to care for, mortgage to pay, and living to earn. Why make it harder?

3) Your therapist also has specialized knowledge regarding your condition. If you have to be there, you might as well ask questions and learn something.

4) Laugh as much as you can – at yourself, with your therapist (not at your therapist). This will make the time go by faster.

5) Appear “with it” – it’s your body, so you get to ask questions and make sure you understand and are on board with everything that is happening. Family/friends might need to step up to the advocacy plate to help. It’s good to let everyone know that you (and your advocates) are paying attention.

6) Say, “thank you.” A lot of people helped me and Mommy told me I was saying “Ta-too” (how my babies say, “thank you”) at the 3rd Hospital a lot, and she was like, “They have no idea what you’re saying.” One of the nurses told Mom that it was out of the ordinary to be thanked by patients. My impression was that there are a lot of ornery people in the rehab hospital bc they didn’t choose to be there, and they’re uncomfortable. I used to be their poster child. If someone is doing a good job of taking care of you, stand out from the crowd and express your gratitude. Niceness begets niceness.

That’s all I can think of at present so I’m going downstairs to see Mommy. BTW, thank you, PTs, for teaching me how to navigate steps. And if you’re ill, I’m wishing you a fast and happy recovery!

You might also like: Here’s a story from my “unhappy patient” stage at Therapy Boot Camp when I had to go to that “hateful bbq.” It’s Survivor: The Brain Injury Edition!!


3 thoughts on “127. How to Enjoy the Rehabilitation Process

  1. Good, solid advice… especially love the laughter suggestion, and saying thank you. I can see how you might not feel like doing either at times, but it’s good to hear that it helps. 🙂
    Your graphics are excellent as usual.
    I’m going to need to re-read Austen with a focus on “agency,” now that I know what it is. 🙂

  2. Great post, Ning, and great progress, too. Just look at those pics for the proof of that progress! I know it may not always feel it, especially to you as you live it day to day. But please try to be encouraged that it IS happening and we are all so thankful for that – AND for your story along the way. XOXOs

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