PT is the gift that keeps giving

Published 6:55 am Wednesday, December 20, 2023

By Les Ferguson, Jr.

I have two sisters who live with their families in Arkansas. Hot Springs, to be exact. They are both younger than me. I love them, their spouses, and their progeny. I have some incredibly sharp nieces and nephews on that side of the Mississippi. 

One of my nieces just became a doctor of occupational therapy. That’s quite an accomplishment. She is now positioned for a job field that will serve her well. Indeed, her parents are proud. Her grandparents are pleased. Her husband is proud. And, of course, she has every right to be proud of herself. A lot of hard work went into this significant achievement. 

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Usually, you’d think her favorite uncle would be proud, too. And I am, to a certain extent. If you’ve read this far, please know I am fully cognizant of the work it took to reach this pinnacle in her educational pursuits. However, a part of me wonders about this vocational choice. 

Back in August, I suffered a compression fracture of my L1 vertebrae. Cliched or not, it’s been a painful experience I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Thankfully, I’m well on my way to what I believe will be a complete recovery. 

However, part of the healing process now involves multiple appointments a week for what can only be best described as state-sanctioned torture. 

Holy Smokes, Batman. I did not know how many ways I could be twisted to stretch muscles. Then, there are the repetitions of this exercise or that movement using machine weights. Five seems enough, but no, “Give me twenty is the common refrain.” Or “I’m setting the timer for eternity plus a day.” Even worse, “Is that too heavy for you?” 

To add insult to injury, all of that is said in a sweet voice with what is meant to be seen as a kind and caring smile. Then, the follow-up question is: “How does that feel?” Of course, at that point, you can either tell the truth and wimp out or man up and claim it’s all good. 

It’s torture, I say. Sadistic torture under the auspices of making you better! 

Maybe the old country song should be changed to say, “Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be physical therapists!” 

As you read this today, I’ve already had one PT appointment this week and one to go tomorrow. And hopefully, you understand that this column is written tongue-in-cheek. Truthfully, I’m thankful for all the help I’ve received – grateful that it is available. I may not want to do it, but I’m glad I can. 

To medical professionals of every stripe and fashion (especially all my nieces, nephews, and first-born son), you are on the side of the angels. Thank you for taking care of us. May your stockings be absent of coal.

Merry Christmas to all.