The transition from a hurting and scared patient, resigned to living with pain and limited activities, to a Four Pines Physical Therapy employee has been enlightening and well worth the work and personal growth.
The lesson in health insurance and navigating the health system was no less worth the growth.
After spending a summer bouncing back and forth from the couch, on ice and heat, to the yard, and exercise class, I found myself continually reinjuring my lumbar spine.
The injury, came about, as near as I can tell, by wear and tear or old age.
By Thanksgiving, after four and a half months of pain, I had had enough; I was barely able to walk. Standing took me several seconds to get upright, involved considerable pain, and there was a noticeable curve in my posture from scoliosis.
Following what I thought was protocol; I made an appointment with my family doctor to get a referral to an orthopedist after requesting an MRI. The diagnosis process took over a month, in the end, the result was spinal stenosis, three bulging discs and disc degeneration, and I was referred to physical therapy.
the weeks kept going by…. until I FINALLY got a referral for PT
Had I known more about my insurance benefits prior to this waiting period (and all the pain that kept me from doing what I love) I would have known that most insurances now allow direct access; no prescription is necessary to get physical therapy.
No Need To Wait – Go To Physical Therapy First!
By the time I arrived, in January, at the Four Pines Physical Therapy, Alpine Clinic, I was tired of the pain. I was afraid that I would always walk funny and not be able to stand straight due to the scoliosis. I was afraid that I would never be able to hike or enjoy any of the outdoor activities I crave, or to effectively keep my house.
The highly recommended staff at Four Pines PT were friendly and knowledgeable; they understood my pain and fears.
I was put at ease knowing that the staff was serious about my recovery, serious about helping me reach my goals and dedicated to continuity of care.
Over the next three months I worked twice a week to build strength, educate myself about fear avoidance, and get back to my active lifestyle.
During the last month of my care, I was asked if I might want to come to work at the clinic.
Three things came to mind; I wanted a positive environment in which to work, it had to be something fun, and I wanted to work locally.
Lucky for me, the job and I were a fit, and I was hired in mid-March. The first few weeks were difficult, because I had not worked in almost two years, and I was still attending therapy once a week for my back. Sitting for long hours took some adjustment, but thankfully I have a work environment that understands physical constraints and the importance of movement.
Fast forward nine months, and I’m able to work ten-hour days, I maintain an active workout schedule, the scoliosis has all but disappeared, and I have gained confidence in my ability to lift, bend, stretch, and exercise, which I had been afraid to do since the initial diagnosis.
I now work out twice a week with a strength coach and began running which I never thought that I could ever do! I couldn’t even squat body weight when I started –
now I can squat more than 70#, run 3 miles and do what I want without the result of debilitating pain!
Fear avoidance, the fear of reinjury or pain, therefore avoiding movement, is common among injured persons and can have lasting effects on an individual’s ability to heal.
Working through these fears with my physical therapist and witnessing others working through process of healing has given me a new outlook on my future, my ability to enjoy the outdoors for many years, and my empathy for our patients and their success.
I am able to help people receive a positive and caring physical therapy experience while working with some terrific folks who care about the health of our community.
I have to say, stepping (or limping in this case) into the doors of Four Pines was one of the smartest things I have ever done.
Having a positive, community minded, and fun place to work has given me local connections and the social outlet I needed as well as the confidence to overcome fears associated with bending, stooping and exercise.
I’m getting stronger each day with a little help from my friends at Four Pines Physical Therapy!