April 26, 2012
I may have mentioned this a time or two here, but last week I had knee surgery. Heaven knows I’ve told my friends about it enough; I lean a little to the OCD side when something like this happens in my life. The surgery went well (Thanks, Dr. L.), the folks at Gwinnett Medical were, as always, fabulous, and I am on the mend. The mend, I’m learning, talks a bit longer after age 50 than before.
Yesterday was my first day of physical therapy. I was a bit nervous going in, I’ll admit. “Physical therapy” is a nice way of saying, “let’s get that thing back where it’s supposed to be and working as well as it can.” It involves pain, sweat, determination commitment and a co-pay.
It’s been years since I’ve been in physical therapy, and that was for my ankle, way back when I was in my 20s. I remember some pain, but mostly I remember healing pretty quickly and being on my way.
When I walked into the therapy office Wednesday, the first thing I noticed were the clientele subgroups. There were giant athletes, some professionals. There were workout queens, those women who get up in the morning and begin working out and do it all day long, until the kids get home from school. There were the very elderly people, there to recuperate from a surgery or, more likely, an injury. There were old jocks, there to try to get some relief from painful old injuries. There were young high school and college athletes, perky and bouncy and moving around better injured than I ever did uninjured.
And then there was me. A writer with an injury. I was sort of the odd-woman-out.
The first machine the therapist put me on was next to a kind old jock with what appeared to be very, very bad knees. He must have known I was a newbie, because he talked to me right away in an attempt to put my mind at ease. He let me listen to the “bone on bone” tune his knees sang as he bent them. He introduced me to the “crunchinator,” a device rooted in the Spanish Inquisition designed to force a patient’s knees into unnatural positions.
One of the professional athletes asked me what I was “in for.” When I explained my wimpy, commmonplace knee problem to him, he rolled his eyes and shook his head as if to say, “What a waste of these peoples’ time.” Then he launched into recounting the third-and-long horse-collar he suffered at the hands of a New Orleans Saint last season. He was sweating as he recounted the brutal (and illegal) attack on his neck and shoulders. By the time he finished, everyone in the room was transfixed by the tale.
I looked down at my own weak and pitiful knee (that doesn’t come equipped with nearly as fascinating a story as Mr. Horse-collar’s over there). I pulled the only card I had up my sleeve and told him that I was trying to get ready for a trip this weekend for a book signing in Alabama.
This time, it was Horse Collar’s turn to be fascinated. In fact, he and the Old Jock wanted to hear all about it. By the time my session was over, I was feeling a little like a rock star myself (OK just in my own mind, but still…), and two clients and all the therapists bought my book. As it turns out, my first physical therapy session turned out to be a little more than physical therapy. It also made me realize that even us old chicks (excuse me, “mature, wiser” chicks as a colleague described us the other day) can be cool, too. In fact, Mr. Horse Collar and I exchanged autographs before our time was up. Neither of us knew who the other was before meeting that day, but I think we both felt a little cooler for meeting the other. I know for a fact that my husband will be thrilled with his autograph.
Ever have a moment when you’re feeling kind of old, or un-cool? What snapped you out of it?
Carole Townsend is also a Gwinnett Daily Post staff correspondent and author of the recently-released book, “Southern Fried White Trash.” The book takes a humorous look at families and how we behave when thrown together for weddings, funerals and holidays. She has been quoted on msnbc.com, in the LA Times, USA Today and the Christian Science Monitor, been featured on FOX 5 News and CNN, and is often a guest on television and radio shows nationwide. Her next book, “Red Lipstick and Clean Underwear is eagerly expected this summer 2012.