Saturday, June 8, 2013

And Stretch!

Awkwardness vent...

Yesterday was my first appointment with the physical therapist. Most people who know me know that I have PTSD from elementary school gym glass. Who doesn't, right? I think my generation still had the gym teachers of yester-year who were part of some kind of Nazi regime (ugh). This one used to get in my face and yell at me as I hid in my t-shirt, balled up in the corner shaking and crying. When the principal came in unexpectedly, she pretended to be comforting me. Who does that? Then middle school brought on the female gym teachers who had something to prove by making gangly girls like me try exercises I could never quite master -- in front of the entire school. Then there was high school, where I had developed enough to catch the eye of the creepy gym teachers. Conclusion: all physical activity = awkward, icky old people touching me and telling me what to do.

So, obviously the idea of going to physical therapy made me super happy... I missed the first appointment, because I was so nervous that I got violently ill in the bathroom for an hour. When I went to the next appointment, I did what I always do and just shut down completely. It's a new defense mechanism I developed (I think during childbirth) that I both love and hate. I simply check out. I let people tell me exactly what to do, I do it, and I shut off my brain.

And it's probably a good thing that I did, because the whole experience was just plain awkward. I went in for some leg spasms I've been having, and the physical therapist connected the problem to my lower back. The solution: do kegels. Seriously? I could buy into that, but couldn't quite get over the awkwardness of having him hold my hips while doing them or the fact that I had to bend over in front of him (in my yoga pants) so that he could (I can only assume) check my spine alignment.

He stretched my body every which way while I thought about... anything but my awkward body. I found myself analyzing him, wondering what his life was like. He was a good looking guy -- probably late 30s. He wore a silky shirt. He was a low-talker, or just didn't want to interrupt the other therapy sessions going on around us. (stretch leg up) "Does it bother?"
"Does it bother?"
"Does it bother!?"
"Oh! No. I thought you were saying, 'Oh, Brother...'"

Then I start laughing too loud while he simply focuses his attention on my other leg.

"What am I doing here?" I think.
He bends over my body and stretches my arm out while twisting my back.

Afterward, he walks me to the front desk and I can't help but sneak a peek at myself as I walk in front of the floor-to-ceiling mirror. "Eh, it's just me," I think. My hair is now a mess, but I leave it. My eyes dart to my 'problem areas' -- baby belly, too-long legs, so my yoga pants don't quite cover my socks. While examining myself, I trip over my gangly legs and almost push an elderly woman's walker out from under her. Ahem.

"Ok, come over here," he said as he grabbed his appointment book. "We'll see you in 2 weeks."

The good news is that... despite my awkwardness, he was very professional. AND he says I can start running, after building up to it by walking a full hour every day over the next 3 weeks (with stretches and crunches to help my leg spasms/back pain). E and I already put in about a half hour each day, and she's really stroller-obsessed right now, so I think we can double that easily. We've done it twice now, and it 'doesn't bother.'  I also made an offer on a $30 used jogging stroller. I hope that works out, so E and I can finally "launch over" that dirt pile (and fly away a-la E.T.!) at the back of the parking lot and start doing some more "off-road" running. These VT dirt 'roads' are brutal!

Oh, and when I got home, applauding myself for getting through it, and told Mark about my awkwardness, he said, "Are you sure the guy works there? Did you have to go down into a basement? Into a janitor's closet? Was there a cardboard sign on the door with handwritten letters that read, 'Massage Therapist?'"

Super helpful. Thanks, Mark.

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