Updated: Jul 24
“Been there done that” is a nice way to put others at ease when faced with recovering from an injury or condition, such as Frozen Shoulder. For this reason, we at Davis PTSR prefer to let patients share their own stories of trusting the process. Who better to start is to tell my story…
Grad school seems like a lifetime ago, but it was when I realized physical therapy was my future. I was good at it. It made sense to me – talking and connecting with people made me feel really good. It was also when I had my own need for treatment.
After years of having a chronically loose shoulder and waiting until I was done playing collegiate sports to address it, I had shoulder surgery in Grad school. I went to school out of state, so my health insurance did not cover physical therapy. Yes, I was in school to be a PT and could not get treatment. Crazy, but true. Fortunately, one of my professors offered to treat me (I guess it helped me to be smart), and this time outside of class led to more conversations about my future. The downside, though, was that what should have been simple was not and lacked the proper follow-up. The result – I ended up with a frozen shoulder, so after graduation, I moved home and started physical therapy while looking for a job.
My story did not end here…
The movement in my shoulder was not great. That was clear. Yet despite having a very good PT, one day will remain stuck in my head forever when my shoulder was extremely tight and needed to be stretched really hard. On this particular day, he was cranking my shoulder and telling me to relax. We needed to reach the end range to make progress. As he pushed hard and held it there, tears swelled in my eyes. Suddenly he starts yelling over his shoulder to someone else while stretching me. Yes, it was a busy clinic, but as I sat with tears streaming from the pain, I said nothing. He was completely unaware as he continued a conversation with another patient and stretched me harder. Finally, I made a sound, and he let me go. No acknowledgment that it was a hard stretch. No apology for not paying attention. Nothing. Is he a good guy? Yes, and looking back, I thought maybe that was the norm. In that moment, I was scared, in pain, and worried he was going to hurt me. This experience comes to mind every single time I stretch a shoulder – even after 20 years. Patients deserve to feel safe and have a PT’s full attention when it comes to their care.
Living through this experience is what has helped shape and define how I/we care for my/our patients.