Wednesday, September 15, 2010

When Therapists Attack!!

Hello friends,

Anyone who has endured physiotherapy knows it's no walk in the park. Yes, it's for your own good and yes, we feel better afterward but last week, I experienced the dark side of physiotherapy: When Therapists Attack!

My doctor suggested I give physiotherapy a whirl as a treatment to manage the pain of fibromyalgia. I'm not a physio-virgin. I've had 3 knee surgeries and each one entailed gruelling sessions of physiotherapy. I knew what to expect but I was curious as fibromyalgia is a widespread pain condition and not contained to one area of the body. I thought I should at least give it a try but I remained on yellow alert.

Unfortunately, the therapist and I didn't didn't get off to a great start. She wasted no time in telling me that she was sensitive to perfumes and insisted on keeping the treatment room door open, for ventilation. Ooops. I should have known better. Being a fibromite, I am fully aware of the proclivity to reacting badly to perfumes and other smells. In my defense, I had finally found a subtle fragrance that I picked up in Hawaii. I relish the chance to wear a lovely perfume once again. But, I digress.

The physiotherapist -let's call her PT for brevity, tested my mobility. Check. She tested my range of motion. Check. I laid down on the treatment table, as directed. Then she got mean. Under the pretext of 'relaxing' my muscles, she gave me a knuckle sandwich like I'd never had before. RED ALERT! RED ALERT! See, this is where I get confused. If you're inflicting maximum pain to a body, how in the name of Caligula is said body going to relax?

I was told by my doctor that 'PT' was the best. Maybe so, but I'm not entirely convinced that PT 'gets' fibro. The thing is, we're already in pain - as in, 'everywhere'. Okay, I'm not a physiotherapist. I don't even play one on TV. But I'm thinking that gouging your fist and/or knuckles into an already sore body isn't especially logical. Or helpful. Or humane. A dear, witty friend of mine refers to physical therapists as 'physical-terrorists'! A fitting description, if I ever heard one. Thanks, K, for the great one-liner.

All kidding aside, I was in lift-off mode as PT went to work on me. I had tears in my eyes from the pain, I was writhing and I told her to stop. She ignored me! Quite honestly, it was brutal. She kept right on knuckling me, digging further into my muscles. I should have demanded that she stop. But I trusted her. I trusted my doctor. At this point, I wondered if I was experiencing a little payback for wearing the perfume. It would have helped tremendously if she had engaged in any form of communication with me. She could/should have offered some encouragement along the lines of, 'take a deep breath, or, you're doing great or just a few more seconds'. After I left the clinic, I felt assaulted. Not only was I in horrific pain but my request that she stop had gone unheard. There must be trust between a therapist and client and PT had bollocked that big time.

That evening I was in tears, unable to cope with the pain and soreness. I had difficulty moving around or getting into a comfortable position. I vacillated between going back for a second appointment. Ultimately, I did decide to return but with a list of caveats.

My second appointment is scheduled for Thursday. I will be having a serious discussion with PT before she lays one knobby knuckle on me again. I don't care if it's 'good for me'. Causing that amount of pain cannot be good for anybody. She is going to have to adopt the 'kinder, gentler' approach. Otherwise, she will find herself with one less client - one with a big mouth and an axe to grind.

I wish I had insisted that she stop the 'treatment' at Round 1. I did tell her to, but she wouldn't listen to me. I'm blaming myself for being too meek and polite. Next time I won't be. Let the buyer beware.

Et tu, Brute.


  1. I can relate and agree! How can this help, we need relief not aggravation <3

  2. Exactly. What is the benefit of a 3-day post-physio-induced flare-up? I can do that on my own for free.