You Can Do It, Champ! (Reality, motivation and rehab)

Anyone who’s wasted time reading this blog knows that I’m proud of one thing, something I do exceptionally well, that one specialty in life: drinking margaritas. But it recently hit me that I’ve got another talent: rehab. Call me multi-talented. I’m good at going from a fucked-up state to moderately functional again – talking physical recovery here. Not from too many margaritas.

Now, for my next trick, I will set the world on fire and be hot.

I love PT (Physical Therapy). Have another appointment in a few hours. Speaking from personal experience with my various trainwrecks, getting a good physical therapist is crucial. As with surgeons, they’re not all the same. My recovery from my horror-show broken spine (I’ve seen a lot of spinals, dude, this guys walks! OK, sorry, I’ll try to stop with the Lebowski lines), and much simpler knee surgery, both in 2005, only reinforced it all. The surgeon is crucial. But you can’t stop there. Yeah, it’s a pain sometimes, sometimes literally, and it takes time, but what else are you going to do? Let it go to hell and accept the (sub-optimal) results? No, I went out and achieved anyway! (Sorry.) I know I might not return to 100%, but who among us is? It’s part of life. Pick up, get better, work hard, and return.

Sure, it takes some motivation. But Jesus H Christ on a mechanical bull, how can you not be motivated to get better? I suppose I shouldn’t be so harsh – motivation varies. Apparently some people need generic cheesedick motivational posters on the wall – like these two I saw at a big corporate-owned health club last week. Who comes up with these things? If something is blatantly unrealistic, it doesn’t work for me. Are people so dumbed-down that their bullshit sensors don’t go off? Maybe I’ll get me a wife-beater tank, add a little muscle-fat, puff-out my chest (and gut) and make my own, realistic, motivational posters. Actually, a company named already makes awesome, realistic de-motivational paraphernalia. Which of the below provides better motivation? If motivation has to do with reality, I’ve got the answer…

Click to enlarge, read the bottom.

Much better; more realistic.

While rehabbing my spine five years ago, my PT kept telling me to back off, to not overdo it. OK (I listened.) “Man, I don’t mean to discourage you, Kelly – this is great, really it is. We have to beg most people to do just five minutes a day,” he said. I looked at him like he’d just told me that 2+2=5. It’s the sort of thing that makes me twitch and stutter, “N-n-no. No! That’s not it!” What the fuck? Don’t people want to get better??! I simply do not get it. Everyone says they don’t have time, and people definitely get busy, people have full-time-plus jobs and families and all that. But also, anybody who watches TV recreationally can’t claim they don’t have time. That means that 99%+ of Americans cannot say they don’t have time to do their PT (so says Officer Cordes). I still do ongoing back rehab – “pre-hab” I like to call it now, to prevent, or at least delay, future problems – and it’s like a part-time job, but I prefer it to the alternatives. And hell, ya can do your PT while watching the idiot box. What’s the average daily brain-rot, like three or four hours? Crazy. Much as I like Cops and big-time rasslin’, once the novelty stage wears off, I swear I can literally feel my brain turning to mush. Quite simply, that is something I cannot afford.

Where was I? Oh yeah, I lucked out in getting a longtime, experienced and active climber who specializes in orthopedic injuries and soft tissue mobility – Jeff Giddings, of Adams & Giddings Physical Therapy in Ft. Collins. Dr. Desai took care of the bones, and my future mobility increasingly depends on how the scarring and joint surfaces heal, and that’s where ongoing rehab comes into play. Jeff impressed me big-time at my first appointment last week. He got my ankle moving, thought it looked good, manually worked out some of the lymph and scar tissue, gave me instructions on doing the same at home, did some evaluations, gave me a bunch of exercises, specific things important to my specific injury, mobility exercises and stretches and ways to dissolve the scarring inside the joint that I’d have never, ever known on my own. It’s not like going to the gym and hiring some dude to go “C’mon, Champ, you can do it! One more rep!” or to have muscle-fat “Get Tough” guy mouthbreathing over my shoulder. No, not like that. I don’t need that bullshit.

It’s still a long road and plenty remains to be seen – no crystal ball, but things look good. I’m only going once a week because I can do the exercises and progression on my own – been doing them three-to-four times a day, and working mobility while sitting at my desk with my leg up. I don’t make excuses or get lazy about it (hate to break tradition by avoiding laziness, but miracles do happen).

OK, it’s almost time to, you know, put on my tank top, regain my edge, get tough, fear nothing and be invincible.

8 thoughts on “You Can Do It, Champ! (Reality, motivation and rehab)

  1. ah… painful memories…
    I’m with you, if you can get a good person to get through PT you’re on your way to a good recovery.
    Good luck KC!

  2. Well, your way beyond me – I never could work out while watching the tv – maybe it was the Pay Per View channels with all those naked women or something – just couldn’t concentrate. On the serious side – a good friend in Missoula was told about 5 years ago he had one of the ten worst backs in Missoula – needed immediate surgery, couldn’t walk 50′ without intense pain. Didn’t want surgery – went through about four docs and seven PT’s – found one who is a gorgeous blonde (and a genius PT) who has him doing well – just got back from a week of backcountry skiing in Canada with him and he skied all day, every day. Will eventually need surgery – but doing fine now. Good luck man. TK

  3. How do you find someone like that? After I broke my ankle I got kicked out of PT because my physical therapist saw me hiking at one of the local training hills. Apparently being able to hobble up and down 2000 ft is good enough for the insurance company.

  4. Dammit Kelly – now I have to pull all the motivational posters out of the clinic. Thank God I didn’t put you in the “Got Fire” room.

    • ha, Jeff, maybe I should order one of those posters for your clinic? or run that Chris Farley “Motivational Speaker” skit on video over and over? that’ll keep people fired up!

  5. Thanks for the pep talk, Andy. I too am good at rehab. But what I’m not good at is keeping it up after rehab is over. I tore my rotator cuff last year – successfully rehabbed it and then stopped doing the exercises after PT was over. So now I have to to it all over again. And I have to continue with maintenance exercises, I’ve learned, for the rest of my life. Part of the problem is PT didn’t supply me with a maintenance protocol. But there is something more. I’d be interested in hearing how you continue with your back exercises and/or if you have any insights. Or you can just rant on me for being the slacker that I am. It actually helps.

    • ah, yeah, i think that’s a tough one, kim. ya feel like you’re better, so you stop with the maintenance exercises. easy to do for sure. i have a bunch for my back, some of them self-learned, some from PT. for me, things like that — and, though i didn’t injure my shoulder like you, sometimes my shoulders get feeling a little tweaky and it signals to me to do some specific exercises — can come down to the physical reminders my body sends out. i can feel it for sure if i haven’t been doing my maintenance exercises. i’ve come to call that ongoing maintenance “prehab” — as-in, preventing a recurrence. it becomes like a part-time job, and it took me some time/wake-up-calls to accept that. ahhh, the whole “acceptance” thing — one of the keys to life, i think. not that i have anything really figured out, but acceptance seems key.

      speaking of motivation, your comment motivated my next post — thanks!

      • Kelly, (My wife says, “tell him you know he’s not Andy” – I’d just read Kirkpatrick’s blog…) Thanks so much for your reply. I too have been thinking a lot about this issue. This is an ongoing issue for me. I injure – my knees, my elbows, my fingers, my neck, my shoulder, etc. I rehab in record time and then stop exercising and gradually recover over much longer than I should take. I assume my shoulder will eventually simply heal. But it will take 2 years rather than the year it would have taken if I’d do the posthab that I should do. I think you’re right about the acceptance thing. It is something I’ve never quite figured out. Part of it is that I’m 20 years older than you and I have less time to look forward to. So I wanna be better and get out NOW not later. I feel like a shadow of myself if I’m not going full-tilt boogie.

        It is about acceptance. My climbing partner and best friend says – “you have all the time you need for rehab, but no time for re-injury.” It’s just hard to accept that my shoulder didn’t allow me to even do the first move on Bunny (a classic 5.4 at the Gunks). And that embarrassing reality is even more painful than my shoulder.

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