I might (possibly) know now where the word “hardcore” comes from, though I really don’t plan to look it up to confirm my newly acquired knowledge. Today, I completed eight and a half months of physical therapy … actually ten and a half if you count before and after two rotator cuff surgeries.
June 2016, a few weeks after I had the honor, but strenuous job, of being my WWII father’s “guardian” on an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., I flew to the far northwest corner of Nebraska to enjoy five (of my 10) grandchildren.
Needless to say, I was bone weary from the day-long travel, through the Austin-Bergstrom Airport, and through Denver International Airport where I boarded a “prop plane” to finish out the journey. I was one tired “Mimi” when I arose early the very first morning following my arrival, when I tripped against the shower curtain and fell totally backwards into their bathtub, pulling down the heavy rod onto my head, leaving the shower curtain draped strangely across my Mickey Mouse pajamas.
So … I’ll skip all of the December and April surgery stuff in between the journey from then to now. Today, I took my new 65cm ball to physical therapy, figuring I’d simply, as usual, roll on it or lift it with my ankles while lying on my back … but no. Today ended a little differently.
When I was already exhausted from the shoulder and core therapy, she had me sit on the ball and lift weights ... above my head ... in angel wings, then stretch bands into the air as if I were shooting an arrow, and then roll around while keeping my shoulders straight, all the while, feet together and tummy tucked in tight. Now don’t get all excited. One weight was a mere 2 lbs. (in my left hand) and in my right hand, 5 lbs.
The purpose: re-building strength in both of my shoulders, keeping the motion fluid so they don't lock up, and strengthening my core. Rotator cuff surgeries are not … repeat not … for sissies.
When I tried to stand up after that last 15-minute core AND shoulder session, my legs felt like rubber and wanted to simply buckle. So I sat for a bit, exclaiming great surprise at the weakness I’d discovered, and amazement at how I felt as if I had jumped into a pool with all of my clothes on. I was totally drenched.
I thought, "Now that's hardcore!"
But as I drove back to TexVet this morning, I thought of our Veterans, considering what way too many have had to go through to recover from combat injuries. I concluded that I really do not know what “hardcore" physical therapy is all about.
It’s probably not really about sitting on a big rubber ball, lifting tiny weights or stretching little green bands.
I salute those brave men and women of our U.S. Military who are undergoing hardcore therapeutic re-training in order to be able to walk again because a leg, or a foot, is missing ... navigate in a brand new, much harder world ... or simply live ... or, put more honestly, even want to live.
I also salute physical therapists everywhere who work with civilians and service members alike, encourage them, re-train them to survive ... just in a different way ... and convince them that they are worthy enough, important enough, brave enough, loved enough, and certainly strong enough to overcome anything.
You chose an important, valuable field in which to serve all of us. You do hardcore work to bring us back.