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In my fourth week of physical therapy, I’m happy to report that the tiny flying monkeys swinging from my sciatic nerve and gerrymandering my pelvic region have been corralled and mostly expelled. At least I think they’re gone; for all I know, we may have simply killed them. I went in yesterday and yet another young therapist, Brutus, got me on the table—then got on the table with me.
“Okay,” said Brutus, tucking me in and around him. “I want you to go through a series of deep breaths and then blow it out, deep breaths then blow it out. Ready?” I was wearing my pajamas—a pink t-shirt and thin sweatpants—because now, every time I go in, some big guy always wants to squeeze the crap out of me, and I’m just lucky that no real crap has been involved, no foul odors…just tiny dead monkeys with broken wings.
“Mmm erdee,” I mumbled into Brutus’s armpit, signifying my preparedness as best I could with my face smushed between his arm and ribs. I breathed deeply and blew it out completely, and just when my lungs were empty, Brutus dug his fists into my lower back and pulled me hard against him. For a moment I felt like we were on a poster for Gone With The Wind.
Pop! There went that one tight spot over my left hip. Nice. Brutus shuffled us again on the table—me glancing around, wondering if this was legal—and I breathed/blew out again. Pop! There went another tight spot by my spine. He flipped us into one more contorted position—how we both fit on that table, I don’t know—and Crack! There went that pain right over my tailbone.
Brutus climbed off me and blurted, “Now walk around for awhile and see if you feel better than when you came in. I have to go work with another patient.” Go Brutus Go.
I slid off the table and found my slippers, which had flown off my feet during the first crushing. I took a few tentative steps, then straightened up and walked tall…with no stabbing back pain or seized-up butt muscles. A miracle.
Brutus got the elderly gentleman he was working with—also on his back, on the table next to mine—to do a series of open-armed butterfly movements: a lumpy ballerina. Then he told me to hop back up on the table, which I did, limber like a cat.
“While I work with Howard over here, I want you to lie on your back with this ball between your knees and rock back and forth. This releases fluid and lubricates your core. You’re a car that’s been parked too long and needs to lubricate its parts, okay?”
I readily agreed to being this abandoned car and lay on the table with what seemed like a very heavy basketball between my knees, rocking to the left and right, releasing my fluids. While this felt good, I worried about leaking, and hoped I didn't. I could hear Howard scritching on his table’s paper as he turned over onto his belly, as Brutus had directed before running off again. “You gotta cut a hole in this table for my nose!” Howard yelled to nobody in particular.
I looked over at him, still rocking my ball. “You gotta turn your head, Howard. Turn it sideways.”
“Oh yeah,” said Howard. “That works.” He lay flat on his table looking at me; we chit-chatted for awhile.
“What are you in for?” I asked.
“Mobility,” he said. I told him I was in for the same.
“What do you do?” he said, still gazing over at me, not moving, his big beautiful bulbous nose just inches away from my own.
“I’m doing it,” I said, like that was the best line in the world.