Leonard was an experienced physical therapist new to the hospital, and I was one of his first clients.
Like the others, Leonard tried multiple approaches with me. We talked about sports and movies as he worked and I didn’t. Like everyone else, Leonard failed to recognize the futility that was so obvious to me. I was going through the motions, waiting for something to end this interminable nightmare.
I couldn’t get stronger, go back to work, create anything resembling a meaningful life. I saw no future to justify any sort of effort, and I was angry with those who were oblivious to the hopelessness. How could everyone keep acting as if a worthwhile future beckoned?
I’ve learned I can achieve amazing results, probably more than even my therapists honestly believed possible. I’ve crossed those streets, defying the command: “DON’T WALK.” I’ve cranked a hand cycle three thousand miles in a year. I taught middle-school kids successfully, a role that would terrify many able-bodied people.
But when I met Leonard, I was busy proving you can’t accomplish anything if you don’t believe.
Leonard tried for several weeks to break through my resistance. He knew how much I needed to accomplish, and he increasingly viewed this pretend-therapy as an unproductive waste of time. He was right.
One morning when I arrived at the hospital, Leonard waited at the entrance. He suggested we skip our morning session (fine with me!) and just take a walk. I figured he wanted to check up on me, and he was about to discover I’d made little progress toward building endurance. Of course he already knew that, but I didn’t care. He needed to see for himself how impossible this all was.
I couldn’t imagine what he had in mind…I’ll bet you can’t, either.
To be continued…