It has been about a month now that I was discharged from aquatic physical therapy and was advised to join the “medical exercise” program. Physical therapy is one-on-one with a therapist; medical exercise is in a small group setting with an exercise coordinator. But they are both in the warm water pool, doing similar exercises as PT. I had noticed better mobility and endurance during my time in aquatic PT, so I thought continuing it in some form would be a good idea.
From what I had observed in the pool, I did not think there would be much difference overall in the two programs, and it should be a relatively smooth transition. But unfortunately, I immediately noticed a huge difference between the attitudes of my therapist and the exercise coordinator, and that too in our very first evaluation meeting!
In the past, I have felt my therapists were very good about taking it very slow and making sure that I was comfortable in the exercise routine. Our goal was to get me to start moving a little bit more smoothly and that was it. I never felt that I was pushed too hard too soon (except maybe once and we quickly backtracked from that). I knew PT wouldn’t last forever, but we took baby-steps until we felt I was ready for a bit more semi-independent program.
Now when I got to this semi-independent program, I felt pushed to immediately move on from there, despite her less-than-heartfelt verbal reassurances to the contrary. I tried to carefully describe the conditions under which I ended up in PT, my failed attempts at at-home exercises, yoga/chi gong in the past, how I felt embarrassed and intimidated at the pool in my university’s rec center around normal people my age. I explained that I liked the hot water therapy pool, that it was doing me a lot of good to just soak in it, so I preferred that to the gym. But it’s like she just couldn’t let it go that I had to move on one day into something else, even after I told her that I was intimidated by many of those things just now!
I suspect she was trying to motivate me, and make me see that I could get better and be more independent. She said she wanted to work on muscle strength and balance which should help me move on to some beginner yoga/tai chi. She talked about keeping it mild, not even moderate, and transition into a public pool under less athletic settings. But she kept trying to push independent exercise ideas before I had had a single class with her! And it left me feeling like she wasn’t very enthusiastic about having me in the program. I felt my anxiety rising, and at times I thought she noticed it too, but did not take enough of a cue to stop pushing me farther than I was ready to go right now. I felt like I had barely climbed the mole hill, and I was being pointed towards a freaking mountain!
What made it worse, I think, is that all this was happening right after I had to explain the whole history of my symptoms to her top down. It is something I never enjoy doing. I feel like I sound like a hypochondriac who needs to shut up already. Now I had the added sensation of feeling whiney as I was afraid to embrace her good suggestions.
All in all, I was glad, however, that I did not sell myself out and invalidate my emotions based off the vibes I was getting from her. I often have a tendency to say to myself that what I am feeling is false, but most often that it not the case. I am simply afraid of admitting of the consequences of the truth. I mostly refrained from doing that this time, while attempting to retain compassion for her point of view.
I have my first session with her this Friday. I am keeping my fingers crossed that our first meeting (that I described here) is not a harbinger of things to come. I know I am looking forward to being in the warm water pool. So fingers crossed that all goes well!