Why does the truth hurt?

I am still plugging away at physical therapy. But I did not leave feeling like Rocky today. I left feeling like my old wimpy self.

Today was really hard. I had a different therapist. He is a really nice guy and he was "overseeing" my therapy up to this point. So I've gotten to know and like him. But last Friday was the last day for my previous therapist (the one who was working with me the most). So, today the "overseer" became the main therapist. And his style is a little different.

I had gotten to where I wasn't in quite as much intense pain during therapy. I was consistently making progress. And Daniel (the therapist who left) was able to push me a little further every single appointment. So I know he wasn't letting me slide or going easy on me because the therapy was always challenging. But I thought I had toughened up and was enduring the pain better than in the beginning. And that was encouraging to me. Daniel seemed to agree that I had gotten a little tougher. (I realize he might not have really thought I was, but he was convincing and it made me feel good nevertheless.)

Many times over the last few weeks, I have thought about how fortunate I was to be assigned to him. The first day I went in there, I was scared to death of both of them because of my previous bad experience with shoulder therapy (all pain/no gain). But in no time at all, I was working well with Daniel and he seemed to know when to back off. So I became more trusting and more relaxed in spite of knowing pain and discomfort were coming. I stopped dreading physical therapy.

Today was really difficult for me. I said that already, didn't I?

Don't misunderstand. Both therapists are great. I know they have to hurt me to help me. But I could tell I wasn't "trusting" John today the way I had grown to "trust" Daniel. I was trying, but I was apprehensive.

John has a dry sense of humor. And when he teases me, I am never quite sure he is teasing. For instance, feeling very self-conscious about my tears and lack of toughness, I said, "I thought I had toughened up, but maybe I haven't." And without missing a beat, John said, "That isn't your strongsuit. But if it hurts, it hurts." And then a little later I said, "I'm sorry I'm such a wimp." And John said, "I'm sorry, too." And he doesn't laugh when he says it. My inner affirmation seeker wants him to say, "You're not a wimp."

I was trying to explain this to John (my husband) tonight. I told him that part of me absolutely knows John (my therapist) is just kidding. But I left therapy this afternoon feeling down. John (my husband) laughed and said, "You can't personalize stuff like that." I agree. It's stupid. But I can't help it.

You feel so vulnerable and helpless when someone is twisting and pulling your arm in ways it does not want to go. You feel especially vulnerable when you're lying there crying like a baby, taking deep breaths (or forgetting to breathe entirely) because of the pain. How I wish I could show no emotion, make no sounds, produce no tears, etc. But I can't. So, taking all of that "truth" into consideration, why does the truth hurt my feelings? Truth is...

I am NOT physically tough. It is NOT my strongsuit.

So, if I can say it about myself, it shouldn't bother me for anyone else to say it. Right?
But it kind of does anyway.

I met someone the other day who is also going through physical therapy for frozen shoulder. She said, "I can take pain, but the pain of frozen shoulder is nauseating, it is so bad." It made me feel better to hear someone say that who does consider herself tough. Because only someone who has experienced this knows how painful it truly is. I know there are worse things, but that doesn't make it easier.

I told John this afternoon that I thought I had overcome my fear and dread of physical therapy. But I now think it's back. I'm sure he's right that I'll overcome it again.

But maybe not this week.

Oh man, I'm going to feel stupid for posting this later (when I'm feeling better).
But it's the truth of how I feel right now.


Kathy said…
I wish I could give that asshole a piece of my mind. Who does he think he is? What a jerk!

To respond to someone in pain with an attitude like that? He is in the absolutely wrong job. I would fire him ON THE SPOT! That is not even a weak attempt to cover his contempt for you, complete lack of respect and no dignity. It is a total slap in your face and not even a veiled attempt to cover up his sarcasm. Look up sarcasm. I have it--it's a disease. But I never direct it at a patient in pain. You should report his rude and obnoxious behavior and save the next patient from a brutal assault on not only their healing body, but broken spirit. Be brave and rat the sucker out! I KNOW YOU CAN DO IT. Lose the guilt. That dude is a crime walking.

AUGH!!!! I wish I could find him right now.....
Kathy said…
I have to add an addendum! I tell women in labor all the time, physical toughness is primarily anatomical. Your nerves tell your brain how to feel. Yes you can do biofeedback and lie to your brain in some instances. Yes, pain is relative and pain is personal. The number one initiative for every hospital right now handed down from the Joint Commission and other accrediting bodies relates to pain and assessing your patient's ability to cope. We have every alternative available to avoid pain. It changes not only your thinking (as you are finding out) but your actual brain chemistry.

This man is an ogre and clearly poorly educated for someone in his profession. Does he think you're a world class athlete, fighting to get some half ass recovery so you can play injured and make a living while you cause further damage and permanent disability? He is a moron. Pain is your body telling you to stop, your going to far and causing further injury.

I could just smack him. Or...he might suggest you need alternative pain intervention to continue with successful treatment. You should take it straight to the top! AUGH!!!! again....
Shari said…
No, Kathy, he really IS a good guy. I know the difference. Remember, I lived with belittling sarcasm for many years. I recognize my sensitivity because of the shape I'm in. He said positive things too. I even hesitated to write so honestly on my blog because I would never want him to feel bad. He just has a dry sense of humor. I like him very much. He has a job to do and remaking his personality to fit my insecurities isn't part of the job description. But thanks for being so sympathetic and protective of me.
Shari said…
I feel so guilty now for writing about this!
Kathy said…
You can delete the whole thing if you want-- but I completely disagree with his behavior. There is nothing wrong with being sensitive and expecting sympathy from a health care worker. If it weren't for caring, thoughtful, compassionate people, this world would curl up and die. Strength isn't about picking yourself up by your "bootstraps." It's about putting your hand out to lift someone up.
Shari said…
No, I don't want to delete your comments. I just didn't want to give you the wrong impression. I think my comments and yours could be valuable for anyone reading this in the healthcare profession. I agree that my feelings are not invalid. I just don't expect everyone to "suit me" personality wise. We all have our own distinct personalities and mine doesn't suit everyone. Truth is, Daniel was ideal for me. I made good, steady progress with his gentle personality and approach. I felt extremely comfortable with him and not at all afraid. I have to admit, I have fear again after yesterday. And I don't want to go tomorrow. I will make myself because I know I have to. But this is the first time I've wanted to quit.

I really appreciate these words:
"There is nothing wrong with being sensitive and expecting sympathy from a health care worker. If it weren't for caring, thoughtful, compassionate people, this world would curl up and die. Strength isn't about picking yourself up by your "bootstraps." It's about putting your hand out to lift someone up."

I do always feel like there's something wrong with me, like I'm not tough enough, like I'm too sensitive, too emotional, blah blah blah. I think that's why the jokes bother me. Your "defense" of me is comforting and I love you.
Kathy said…
You know women often judge people by their pupillary changes. Men are not capable of this simple test. When you look at something you like your pupil opens wide and you draw more of the pleasing object in. Likewise, if you don't like what you see, your pupil constricts; thus "beady eyes." When women feel uncomfortable it is sometimes because of this reaction they see in others and unconsciously feel disliked. They can feel and sense the others contempt when they note the constricted pupils-- though they have no awareness of the true cause of their own "fight-or-flight reaction and pupillary changes in response. We don't trust our feelings and feel guilt or shame for our reaction. One that is likely justified by the others expressed feelings for us in their eyes. When those jokes are made, I bet you could measure his squinting lids and dim pupils. Women are in tune to millimeter of change. Then our confusion... we second guess what we already know.