Sucker For Punishment

Earlier this winter, while attempting to be sporty I fell hard on the ice in a dark corner of the river valley.

Lying on the ice underneath Edmonton’s newest attempt at upgrading our city, I stared up at the funicular, wondering if I was going to pass out or throw up from the pain and also how many homeless men just witnessed my ridiculousness.

I decided to tough it out, but three weeks later I was still not sleeping and biking, running, weight training, and getting dressed in the morning were harder than they should be, so I went to a physiotherapist for some help.

A thin, blonde, judgemental physiotherapist.

When I called the clinic, I was disappointed that I couldn’t get in to see the recommended physiotherapist, but there was an opening with the blonde, so I took it.

Before I went to the appointment, I was surprised that I was able to get in so quickly but once I experienced her judgements, I realized I was never going to come back and that I wasn’t the only one.

Thin, Blonde, Judgemental Physio – So you fell and didn’t go see a doctor? And now you’re here because you’re in pain? How much pain are you in? On a scale of one to ten?

Donloree – What’s one and what’s ten?

Thin, Blonde, Judgemental Physio – One nap on a beach, ten you’re bleeding out on the highway after just being run over.

Donloree – Well that’s quite the range … four? Maybe I do have high pain tolerance. Maybe it is a six on your scale?

Thin, Blonde, Judgemental Physio – Sure. So if you’re not in much pain, why are you here?

Donloree – Because I am in pain, can’t sleep, can’t move my arm, and I have no strength …. but I am going to live. No calls for 911 required.

Thin, Blonde, Judgemental Physio – But you didn’t go to see a doctor? Why? 

Donloree – Sometimes it hurts with white hot pain and then gets better. At least I can concentrate at work again, but I can’t lift my purse. Perhaps I need to take some things out of it? Of course I do, but as you know, a woman needs things! And she should be able to put her purse on the passenger seat of the car without weeping, right?

Thin, Blonde, Judgemental Physio – It’s fine. We are a primary care center. We can treat you. It’s just that if you were in as much pain as you claim, don’t you think you would have gone to a doctor?

Needless to say while she was jamming her fist into my rotator cuff, I nearly jammed my fist into her solar plexus. But being Canadian and a woman, I took her patronizing instructions to heart and nodded in a docile fashion, after all, I was paying for the adventure in scolding, might as well get something, anything out of it.

I left with a few feet of yellow physio banding and instructions on how to move my arm and where to shove a lacrosse ball into my shoulder until tears leaked out of the corners of my eyes.

Diligently, I did those things for a few weeks, hoping strength and mobility would come back.

Sleep remained to be fleeting and lifting more than 10 pounds over my head remained impossible. Sadly, chasing down my goal of a 100 pound overhead shoulder press was put on the back burner.

Christmas, an incredibly busy job, additional contracts for writing and coaching to do in my non-existent spare time, and some random home renovation projects, along with being a human who loves people filled up every inch of my life.

Time to go to physiotherapy didn’t exist and fear of the Bearded Physio Man kept me from booking an appointment.

  • It would get better on it’s own … right? 

While lying awake, again, at 3:17 am, wondering what it would take to learn to sleep on my left side and then getting up to rummage around or some Advil to help me sleep for another 2 hours and 28 minutes, I realized I needed to swallow my fear and book an appointment with the Bearded Physio Man.

In reality, after he shoved some needles armpit deep into my arse and rendered me useless and unable to walk, I was actually healed. I have been running without excruciating pain for months now.

Embracing the pain.

Bearded Physio Man – You’re back! Where have you been? What are we treating today? How’s the glute?!

Donloree – I fell. Two months ago. I still can’t lift anything over my head and I am pathetic. Everything is hard and my pants are starting to feel tight due to less physical exercise. Help. I just want my pants to fit again.

Bearded Physio Man – And your shoulder to stop hurting, right?

Donloree – Side benefits are welcome.

After the tests which involved trying to push him all around with my right arm and being officially pathetic at most of it, the diagnosis of a strained rotator cuff and strained long head bicep was pronounced.

Bearded Physio Man – So how do you want to do this?

Donloree – The way where I don’t see you much. And when I am in South America in a few weeks exploring the Andes, I am able to put on a backpack without crying.

Bearded Physio Man – So the painful way. You hate needling, right?

Donloree – Who likes it? 

Bearded Physio Man – True. It always hurts you way more than it hurts me.

While shoving a needle into my shoulder, we discussed my upcoming travel plans and how not having children makes my life better than his in an effort to keep me from screaming and swearing too loudly.

Donloree – Sorry about that. I really don’t mean to grab onto you while we do this. You really think I wouldn’t grab you anymore.

Bearded Physio Man – True. I’m used to it by now. So you did this running? 

Donloree – Trying to be sporty, embracing life and all.

Bearded Physio Man – You know you could just go to Mexico and get a tattoo in an inappropriate location if you are looking to feel alive. Fitness could kill you. They have a cure for Hepatitis now, which makes it pretty much risk free! You should really consider making wiser choices.

My retort was squelched by a primal scream as my arm flopped around on the table like a fish out of water.

Bearded Physio Man Looks like someone was doing some decent work at the gym before she fell. Look at those shoulders.

Donloree – What every girl needs to hear – check out the linebacker shoulders!

Bearded Physio Man – I didn’t say you and Peyton Manning share a tailor or anything.

Donloree –  But if the football pads fit?

Why does the path to betterment always hurt when your name is Donloree?

  • Lesson of the week. Go with what you know works, even if it makes you scream and unable to effectively shift your little red car on the way home.

Instructions to ice twice a night and do many seemingly ridiculous exercises shall be followed by your’s truly. The epic, south of the equator adventure is looming and I just want to be able to put my backpack on all by myself.

Also? Maybe I should take up a few less risky behaviours and learn to skydive or downhill BMX …

Running may just kill me.

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  1. Does South America have less gravity…?

    That said, aside from the usual course of bubble wrap treatment that I recommend for you, just be careful and trust your instincts when it comes to wellness practitioners. God don’t I know this…

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