I’m being tortured. A strong man is pulling on my arm. Now he’s pushing on my shoulder. He’s leaning in, pushing down while holding my arm against him. I can’t get away. I can’t make him stop. In desperation, I try to get off the table. Despite being inured to the pain he’s causing, he senses my struggle. “Where do you think you’re GOING?” he queries. “I’m trying to get away from you so you’ll stop hurting me,” I reply. He breaks into a grin and lets up for a nanosecond from reefing on my arm. Welcome to boot camp physical therapy.
Yes, I’m actually paying for this. My physical therapist, who studied at Mr. T’s school of physical therapy, has the hands of a mob boss. For the last few weeks, he’s been singularly determined to beat the tendonitis out of my shoulder if it’s the last thing he ever does. He’s exercised it, stretched it, iced it, heated it, ultrasounded it, taped it, and now he’s massaging it. Although it’s more like the kind of massage one might expect to get at Gitmo. In an earlier time, Mr. T. was a trainer for a Big Ten college football team. This explains a lot. A 300-pound linebacker probably would be saying right now “So when are you going to start?”
It’s not just physical therapy. In my efforts to keep biking despite the tendonitis, I’m accumulating a large collection of accoutrements. I have pages of exercise instructions scattered across my desk. The thought is that when I see these papers, it will remind me to do them. I have a foam roller for stretching the myofascia, leaned up against the piano. Yes, so I’ll remember to use it. I have a large red exercise ball in my living room, again, to remind me …. I have a small exercise ball too, also red. And a yellow stretching band. And a blue one. The Tony Horton “Ten minute trainer” series is sitting out on the table to remind me that if I give Tony ten minutes, he’ll give me the body I want, so I won’t have these problems in the first place. Right.
Then, there’s the Yoga stuff. I gave up Yoga when I started having trouble with my shoulder. But my massage therapist, the other torture guy, keeps giving me Yoga accessories to use for stretching. So, now I have a Yoga bolster, which is like a long narrow couch cushion, and a Yoga belt, which for the life of me, I can’t imagine, and really don’t want to know, what they do with this thing in Yoga class.
But back to Mr. T. He’s done “massaging” my shoulder and now he’s getting ready to tape it. The same man who minutes ago was pushing my arm in directions it doesn’t normally go, is stretching and smoothing out tape as gently as if he’s taping up a butterfly’s wing. He’s the same guy who softly wraps a wonderfully warm heating pad around my neck every time I arrive. He gives me all sorts of sage advice to help me balance my cycling habit with a shoulder that doesn’t want to behave, all the while making me laugh. When I’m not crying that is. He’s cajoled me into agreeing to have my bike refitted, and even recommended I hire a housecleaner, so I can give my arms a rest, and save them for biking. What’s not to like about a man like that? Turns out he’s more Mr. Rogers than Mr. T. And as I leave the office, I notice my shoulder feels, well if feels good. He’s managed to turn aiieeeeehhhhh into ah. Thanks Mr. T.