Last Friday—yes, I’m a little behind on my posts—a physiotherapist came to our apartment to help me learn how to be less terrified of going down the stairs and do simple exercises in order to become a little less deconditioned after two months of doing almost nothing but chillaxin’ (i.e., lying in a hospital bed).
From the moment he called to schedule the appointment, I had a feeling we were going to be a good patient-medical practitioner match; there was just something about his particular brand of businesslike friendliness that I admired. And let me tell you, he did not disappoint. First, and this shouldn’t matter, though it totally does, he’s an adorable dork. It’s just a fact, so it’s OK I let the world know. Second, he was super professional. For example, he gave me a whole bunch of pamphlets from his organization, all in a very nice folder: I haven’t read any of them yet, but I plan on doing so, and I’m sure that after I have, I’ll feel even better about his professionalism. Third, and arguably most importantly, he’s very good at what he does.
After doing an initial assessment and prioritizing my issues, he decided that before all else, we should tackle the stairs. “The pattern for going down is as follows: left foot, cane, right foot. Can you remember that?” he asked. I nodded. Noting my hesitation, he made me repeat the instructions back to him and then corrected me, in the kindest manner possible. “I’ll repeat this before we begin the climb, but when we go up, we’ll do this: right first, then left and cane together. Got it?” Again, I nodded. Again, he asked me, gently, to repeat what he had just said.
And then we were off. He stood two steps in front of me, informing that I should always have a “helper” in that position. “Ready?!?!?” he asked, his enthusiasm contagious. No, but yes! I could do this! Right foot, cane, left foot. I was a stair pro! I could do all the stairs, even if he had clearly told me not to test my limits!
I stepped down with my left, holding the bannister, then paused, suddenly sure that I would tumble down head over heels and that he would fail to catch me and that I would face certain death, especially since my skull is still weakened.
That’s when I heard it.
“You’re doing fantastically! One at a time!” the dorky physiotherapist (on the very off chance you’re reading this, amazing physio: sorry, but please know that “dork” and its derivatives are among the most superlative compliments I know how to give) cheered me on. Magically, I kept going, feeling more confident on our stairs then I had since getting home. Though I had practiced with the physiotherapist on the staircase in the hospital, the stairs leading up to my apartment are much steeper, and it seems like there are so, so many of them. It’s daunting, anyway, for someone like me, who grew used to navigating the same 100 square feet of flat territory, and only a few times a day. Nevertheless, I got halfway down with this new left foot-cane-right foot pattern before we decided to turn around and go back. The return trip went equally smoothly, if painfully slowly.
Before our time was up, the physiotherapist assigned me an exercise to do before we met again, a half-squat thing to be executed in sets of fifteen while holding the kitchen counter for support, and wrote out instructions for everything he’d taught me in the most beautiful penmanship I’ve every seen in my entire life. He’s coming back tomorrow. Having practiced exactly the right amount, not too much, not too little (it was stressed to me that I would lose marks if I overexerted myself), I’m ready for our second session.