I have many funny stories from my days at The Place. Many of them involve A(6, Dr. Frankenstein), and I talk about them more – although my days in OT and ST produced many memorable moments – since PT stressed me out the most and therefore yielded the funniest situations. The thing is that A (6) didn’t think they were funny at the time. Nor did I. A’s demeanor was always very matter of fact. In retrospect his delivery was unintentionally deadpan.
Example: Near the end of my outpatient stint we were doing a monthly evaluation and after the strength testing etc. (Me: Is this the part where I beat you up? A(6): No. Me: Oh, okay – I was just checking to see if anything changed.) it was time for standing balance. I stood in front of him (I forget if he told me to put my feet closer together so I had a narrower stance – this might have been too advanced at this point) and A said in a “thinking out loud” sort of voice that indicated we were going to stray from the usual path a little,
“…Close your eyes…I just want to see…[if you can keep your balance.]”
At that point in my Jedi Training I was following instructions (almost) without question so I immediately closed my eyes.
One second later I felt my shoulder hit something. It was A. My awareness of where my body is in space was even worse then so I didn’t know I was falling and didn’t realize I had fallen until I felt A prop me up.
“Okay…no,” A said in a voice completely devoid of emotion.
Ba ha ha ha ha!! Sorry. Maybe you had to be there, but it was just SO classic A. It was also very classic Rehab because all of my therapists have tried hard to say things with zero trace of judgement, e.g. if I ever stumbled or displayed sub-par motor or visual skills it was always encouragement, never horrified gaping that my body parts are as far gone as that.
These, days, though, I’ve graduated beyond the world of highly controlled responses to my (non)ability to remain on my feet. I have realized that Trainer D has a much higher tolerance level than any of my PTs for the length of time he’ll allow me to fight for my balance before stepping in. In fact, he hasn’t actually had to catch me yet. Whereas my Therapists have always been hyper vigilant regarding any deviation from the prescribed movement and will intervene at the slightest unruly motion Trainer D, while attentive to my gait pattern, will allow me to struggle (while carrying something heavy) take a couple of missteps, and cheer me on as I regain my footing. I’m okay with this since I’m sure Trainer D’s cat-like reflexes probably give him a higher time threshold knowing that he’ll make short work of helping me out of a tight spot. If I did not have this confidence we’d have words about it, but as it is the situation is funny.
I enjoy the contrast between A’s emotionless, “Okay…no…” and matter of fact way of propping me up and Trainer D’s vocal but hands-off support. Both approaches are appropriate for their context. When I was A’s patient I was barely aware of my surroundings and in control of myself enough to look people in the eye (S|OT6 made me) and it was safest to act like my deficits were run-of-the-mill. I wasn’t ready to understand the depth my injury or its long-term ramifications. Now I’m well enough to have built up some emotional robustness and can afford to look my deficits in the face.
The stakes are even higher now – as time progresses I get further away from the likelihood of [fill in the blank] – but I’m strangely more relaxed. While I was at The Place I’d ask doctors questions like, “…at what point do you become concerned…” – it was very timeline driven. But now I kind of don’t care any more. Although I know the biggest gains come in year one I’ve also heard that recovery doesn’t stop until you stop. So I’m continuing to pursue Recovery more aggressively on the assumption that I’ll get well to the extent that God has planned for me. Sure, I have an opinion on what I hope the nature of that recovery will be like, and I do what I can to exercise and do rehab at home – but knowing that the ultimate control isn’t mine takes the pressure off and I am free to enjoy this process. I have progressed from the safety of emotionlessness to being able to lose control momentarily, regroup, and laugh, too.