The Good Patient

Me…do Physiotherapy?!  Hmmmm.  I never thought that I would, but I am now well into my course of Physio.  It’s actually going very well.  When Physiotherapy was first suggested to me, by my Doctor, my immediate images were of Olivia Newton-John singing ‘Let’s Get Physical’ and images of 1980’s and 1990’s breakfast tv exercise Guru’s ‘Mad Lizzy’ and ‘Mr. Motivator’.  I have little doubt that my Doctor saw the look of horror that made it’s way across my face in that moment.  Nevertheless, I agreed.  When your body hurts a lot, you reach a point where you’ll try pretty much anything. I was relieved to find that my images of Physiotherapy were way off track.  Phew.

Today, I have had another of my Physiotherapy appointments.  These are provided through the NHS and, in this case, an organisation called Allied Health Professionals deliver this service on behalf of the NHS.

My Physiotherapist is called Daniel.  He has been excellent at describing to me what has caused the pains I have, the workings of my bones, tendons, muscles and nerves and he has been most forthcoming with the homework he gives me!  It is important to feel a sense of confidence in whoever provides you with treatment.  Daniel has earnt my confidence well and he takes his time to teach me the exercises that I have to continue as part of my homework regime.

The cause of my difficulties was originally thought to be Fibromyalgia but Daniel had found that a number of my difficulties could not be explained by Fibromyalgia.  His concern is the possibility for another condition to be concurrent with the Fibromyalgia; possibly Multiple Sclerosis.  Time will tell, where that is concerned.  I am, by now, used to the rounds of tests and monitoring year upon year.  MS has always been ‘in the mix’ of potential outcomes, so it doesn’t worry me.

Update: Since writing this Blog post, my former diagnosis of Fibromyalgia has been changed.  I have, as of June 27th 2017, now conclusively been diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease.

Within minutes, I was standing, stretching, learning new exercises, laying down, being tested for pain, back up again, more movement and new exercises and a thorough consultation.  It sounds a lot, but it was careful and Daniel makes immediate observations of anything that causes me pain or discomfort.  We chuckle a bit, too.  He has a good sense of humour and I think he appreciated that I couldn’t help but laugh at some of the things he had me doing; not to mention that I have Hayfever and couldn’t stop sneezing when I first arrived for my appointment.

My appointment was at Aldeburgh Community Hospital, in the beautiful seaside town of Aldeburgh, here in Suffolk. Here is a photo of the hospital, on what has been a rather cloudy early afternoon:

101

The hospital is set within a private residential road.  There is a real quiet countryside feel about the place.  The Receptionist, whose desk sits close to the entrance, is always incredibly cheery and welcoming.  I hope she wouldn’t take offence if I say that she is of more mature years and, somehow, seems delightfully eccentric; as only English men and women of a certain age can be.  She tends to always be in a bit of a frantic state, but akin to the most charming of comedy sketches that only the late, great Victoria Wood could have written.  The Physio. Department is very close to the main entrance, which helps.

I have to admit that I was a little sceptical about how beneficial Physiotherapy would be for me, but if you are in a similar situation to me and are also uncertain, I have to say that Physiotherapy has turned out to be incredibly helpful.

The exercises that I have been given are nothing like the ‘keep fit’ style of exercises that you might fear.  Having seen further into a nearby Physiotherapy room that an elderly Gentleman was bouncing a giant ball around the room, I never know quite what is in store for me!  Fortunately, the exercises are, in fact, very carefully measured, gentle exercises that just carefully encourage greater movement and flexibility, while also increasing muscle performance.  In fact, when Daniel first showed me the exercises to practice, which have grown in variety over my course of treatment, I doubted they would make much difference.  I was wrong, for these simple, gentle exercises have proven to have a really positive impact on my ability to move more freely.  They have also helped with my stamina to cope with pain, when it does strike.

I wondered whether I would be a good Patient and actually do the exercises that I have been taught, between appointments.  I found very quickly how beneficial the exercises have been and so it has been no hardship to choose to do them almost every day (okay, so I’m not perfect but I have done them most days) for not doing them really did have consequences.  I learnt very quickly that not doing the exercises would render me back to having difficulty and so it’s a ‘no brainer’ to get on and do them.  I know that Daniel’s keen skills would make it impossible for me to get away with not doing my homework, without him noticing.

The other benefit is what you learn.  Daniel has described a considerable amount to me, to help me understand the workings of my body, that I feel better equipped just by understanding myself better.  I work as a Counsellor and Psychotherapist and I am so used to understanding the workings of the mind, that it never occurred to me just how much I didn’t know about the intricate workings of the body; the interplay between bones, tendons, muscles and nerves in particular.  Gaining this knowledge is also helping me to live better, in a way that is more helpful to my physical wellbeing and in a way that is helping me to avoid amplifying the difficulties that are caused by Fibromyalgia.

Have you ever had Physiotherapy?  If there is something you would like to share with others, of your experience of Physiotherapy, do leave a comment for others to read.

Meanwhile, here are some more photos of Aldeburgh that I have taken on sunnier days.  My Mum lives in Aldeburgh and it really is a beautiful place to visit:

After leaving Aldeburgh’s little hospital for another month, I took the opportunity to pop in to see my Mum and have a chat over a nice cup of tea.