I really didn’t know what to expect from physio. The rheumatologist, after diagnosing undifferentiated connective tissue disease (UCTD) and fibromyalgia, recommended physio and pain management. I’m also on Hydroxychloroquine for the UCTD. The appointment for physio came through in just a couple of weeks, but the pain management referral will apparently take a few, if not several, months. I’m lucky in that I was referred to my local hospital so it’s not too far to travel, which is a great relief when all of my surgical appointments have been about an hour and a half’s drive.
Session 1 – The Great Unknown
I arrive, after getting a little lost wandering around the hospital, and waited for about 15 minutes to see the physio, This gave me enough time to complete the ‘pre-visit’ assignment: to list your medications, diagnoses, pains, aches and how they all affect you on a daily basis. I found this a bit tricky because putting pain into words and pinpointing where it is isn’t easy. The answer “everything hurts” just isn’t specific enough!
The lady I saw was easy to talk to and seemed more genuine than some, actually listening to what I said and showing care rather than either scepticism or forced sympathy. She asked me to give her an overview of what’s been going on so I took a deep breath and started the rather long story, ending up at where I’m at now. We covered a lot of ground, and not all of it was specifically pain/physio related. We talked a bit about my feelings of guilt for not being more grateful for being alive, how I lost my job, my poor body image, insomnia, and my frustrations with myself and my body not being what it should be for someone my age.
She gave me a booklet on managing pain and referred me to the Pain Toolkit website, while noting that apparently I’m already “well aware of all of everything that’s in it” but that it may serve as a comfort to remind me to look after myself when I don’t. Having listened to me ramble on for quite some time, she said I was extremely good at self-analysis, but I do have the “doctor heal thyself” syndrome (where you could give the best of advice and know it all, yet fail to apply it to yourself or treat yourself the way you’d treat others). Not the first time I’ve heard this.
We both agreed that I don’t seem to have come to a point of acceptance, far from it in fact. I’ve always been to resistant to accept how things are because that feels like I’m giving up and saying that this is it, things won’t get any better, there’s nothing else to find, it’s the end of the road. But there’s a difference between accepting the situation and letting it consume you, and accepting where you’re at and working with what you’ve got to better manage your problems. This is an area I need to better get to grips with, soon…
Session 2 – It’s All In The Hips
I used to joke a few years ago about having a ‘granny hip’. Now I joke about it because if I don’t laugh I’ll cry. The pain in both hips can get quite intense, so this was the first area I told Lucy I’d like to work on.
She made me stand on one leg, lie down, move my legs and hips this way and that, all the while with me grimacing or saying “yep, that hurts” when necessary to give her an idea of what was causing the problems.
It turns out, my hips are perhaps a little too flexible. The last thing I thought I’d hear. My hips can lock, click and be harder to move when they hurt. She said it was quite typical of my connective tissue disorder and means that my muscles and joints are struggling more because they’re not strong enough. She’s given me two types of daily exercises – a mini squat exercise and one lying on my side, knees bent, raising one knee at a time upwards while keeping my heels together. Next appointment will be in 4 weeks, where she’ll look at making the exercises a little more intensive as the others are a little too painful to do at the moment. From there, it’ll probably be on to my shoulders or my hands.
The physio has also tried to get in touch with my GP as I’ve finally relented to the idea of prescription painkillers for the body aches and pains providing I’m not on anything too regularly, nor anything overly addictive or with too many side effects. Given the problems getting hold of my GP, or them even doing my regular prescriptions on time, I’m not sure when I’ll hear back about this. As we are all very well aware, NHS GP surgeries are more than a little overstretched.
Has anyone else had any experience with physiotherapy, and what did you make of it? Did you find the physio personable enough to get on with, and did it help you at all?
Take care and thanks for reading! I’m off to take my granny hips for their daily exercises.