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What Happens After Physical Therapy Is Over?

I blame myself for my pain level, my posture, and the overuse of computer and phone. I’ve had pain in my neck and shoulder for months. Irritating and sad to me. At last, I got after it: family doctor first, MRI next, then Physical Therapy (PT).


This is my life. My PT is over. Now what?


I saw a neurosurgeon yesterday. Very pleasant man who says surgery is not called for if I am no longer in pain. Nevertheless, he showed me the MRI photos and listed the usual options for severe neck pain.


Since I presently have no pain after six weeks of PT and home exercises, he suggested I continue the exercises and avoid pain management and surgery. Yes, why don’t I do that?


The only thing blocking me is my distaste for exercise. Great strangeness. How did I get that distaste? Well, I never liked PE in high school or college, but I loved jumping jacks, volley ball, trampoline. I liked the games but not the sit-ups or running laps in the gym.


So how do I learn to love exercise and start doing my exercise regimen at home without a PT person keeping me accountable?


I know I want to avoid pain management and surgery. That’s a no-brainer, but I have this inability to see forward. I know many who have gone to their graves without making changes in lifestyles, changes in exercise, changes in diet. Of course, we know their bodies would have benefited, had they made those changes.


Okay, this is how my mind works: I need to break down this process, maybe like I do in writing or cooking or cleaning.


The hardest part for me may be making this plan, deciding on the framework I’ll live within. I need a routine, a pattern, and it has to make sense to me. If I can hang in there with a pattern for eight weeks, I’ll almost have a habit. (Oh, yes, that’s when my next appointment is scheduled with the neurosurgeon. I’ll see him again in eight weeks. My hunch is that it’s about accountability and check-up.)


The neurosurgeon said, “If you miss a day of exercise, don’t beat yourself up about it.” I smiled and liked his saying that. It let me know he knew he was dealing with a human being here.


I’m just starting, so I’ll take any advice my readers have that you know actually works. If you have no exercise program, I’ll happily hear your comments, but try hard to refrain from giving me advice. Hard to do, I know. I need to hear from those who are working a program or trying to work one. Also, I might add, I live in Arkansas, and this week, it is HOT. Humidity is part of the story here.


It makes sense to me to figure out what time of day I’ll exercise. I’m thinking about 20 minutes in the early morning, 20 minutes in the afternoon. Or do I try to get 40 minutes in at one time? Does it matter? (Presently, it is 10:30 a.m., and I have done nothing regarding exercise. Quite frankly, it seemed more important to write this out—not for you, but for me.) I might add that I do get adequate rest, maybe seven hours.


I have a friend, a husband, and a doctor-friend who are supportive. I’m thinking about a friend who is presently working on her spine. She might be willing to keep me accountable. She would understand the importance of this project.


I live 30 minutes from town, and I’m not really willing to drive that far to workout at a normal gym or visit weekly with a support group. But maybe I could find a support group online. Not a thought until this very minute.


I’m thinking about tools to make exercising doable. I have a yoga mat, a traction (over-the-door) apparatus I use from time to time, a stretching band if I can find it, two pages of exercises I’ve used in PT. No machines like you’d probably see in gyms.


Do I need to journal what I do? Maybe that’s the writer in me talking.


Do I give myself a few days off as a reward? Never mind. I think my bones and muscles will not approve of that one. (I’m already trying to find a way out of this!) I’ve had two excellent teachers in PT. I think they would probably say, “One day off per week, but not two.”


Another reward, perhaps. Any ideas? Lunch with a friend? A day of retreat? What else?


What will I do when I mess up? Oh, I already know this one: that’s when I give myself a break and tell the little girl inside me, “It’ll be okay. Let’s start over.” Got it. I need to be kind in self-talk, like the neurosurgeon said.


Are there books that might encourage me? I’m already a book person. If you know of a good one, I’m listening. Remember, it’s primarily the neck/shoulder that I must work on.


I’m not against walking, you understand, for the overall body, but I must pick my time of day. Yesterday was the longest day of the year, and where I live, it gets hot early in the day. I’m praying for a little rain. (I cannot imagine living in California and those surrounding states where people are struggling with water usage. That certainly puts my concern in perspective. Compared, the heat in Arkansas is minor.)


Do any of you know of blogs or YouTube videos that might encourage or help my thinking? I do not have TV, but I do have Netflix and internet.


What’s most important to me on this is actually doing the exercise-work required to keep my neck and shoulder totally out-of-pain.


If you relate in any way, I’d be happy to hear from you.


God bless,


Pat Durmon

patdurmon@gmail.com


P.S. In order to write blogs, emails, manuscripts, I am presently standing like a pharmacist with a monitor. It seems to be working! I keep my mouse in front of the keyboard. (A chiropractor suggested I do that. Much gratitude to all the people in the helping field!)