Ah, if only it were that easy.
Just. Say. No.
What couldn’t we do, if we could
Close the door
Turn the page
Done. With. That!
Like yesterday, for instance, when the Physical Therapy Assistant insisted that I lie on my back, with a hard piece of half-round foam running the length of my spine. The idea is to open up my shoulders, which I’ve been guarding because of impingement syndrome.
I’m enthusiastic about getting more function. I clambered onto the torture platform and lay down on top of the foam thing, expecting to open up and bliss out.
Except that didn’t happen, because the foam thing is hard as a rock. I wiggled and squirmed trying to find the comfy spot. There wasn’t any. It pressed on my tender sacrum and my tender thoracic spine.
“Straighten your spine out!” The Assistant barked. That did it.
“I cannot straighten my spine because my spine…is…not…STRAIGHT!”
Now other patients in the Physical Therapy room were interested. A drama!
At a word from the head Physical Therapist, the assistant backed off. After I had descended from the platform, she led me to a doorway (common PT tool, available to most people who don’t live in a van). There she demonstrated a doorway-assisted stretch that I hope to be able to do one day, but not when I have recently fallen and can barely move at all. Nope. Not doing that.
“What do you MEAN, you’re not doing that?” She screeches, drawing further attention from the Peanut Gallery.
“Just what I said. What else have you got for me?”
She crosses her arms. Oh brother. I’m waiting for the PT Get Tough lecture, but her boss shuts her up in time.
Now she wants to do something with my neck muscles.
“Neck is off limits. No discussion.”
Too bad my aim was not to give this person an apoplectic fit. If I had meant to do it, it would have been a tremendous success. But that was not my aim.
I’m really not in bad shape at all. Just banged up a bit. Actually, when I think about it, most of my biffs and bangs were acquired doing things I love to do: occupational injuries due to the business of life, with a large overlay of genetic vulnerabilities.
I can’t say No to my genes. But I can certainly say No to anyone who doesn’t listen to my concerns, who seeks to intimidate me, to use their position of petty power to try to overrule my ownership of my own person.
“But it’s for your own good!”
On the other hand, what’s good for the goose isn’t necessarily good for the gander, and so on.
I’m not just “a shoulder.”
I’m a person who has lost 2 1/2″ of height over the past two years. That’s because my spine is kind of disintegrating. It’s getting a bit pretzel-y. My years of spine PT are over. So nope, PT assistant does not get to mess with my neck muscles.
We ended up with simply repeating the exercises the Head Trainer had given me last week. Whatever.
As I write this I’m thinking about a friend who is very ill. She’s enduring incredible invasions of her privacy, has lost every vestige of personal space. People bossing her around from every possible angle.
She can’t “Just say no.” She can’t Just get up and walk away.
This has to be the hardest thing: to not have the option to Just. Say. No.