Relationship Matters

Returning to work the day after seeing the surgeon was a delight. I wasn’t pulled out of normal life again; I could continue. I could plan, I could mark assessments, and I could write. I was head down in a pile of marking when friends visiting from Cambridge walked past, back-tracked their steps, and came into my office for a brief hello. Seeing them was heart warming. We had rescheduled our lunch for later that day so that I could attend the physio assessment at the surgeon’s rooms. Once our brief hello was said, I left the College and went to a cafe to get some solid writing work done before my appointment. Unfortunately, when I switch to writing mode and a while later need to leave what I am writing midway through wrestling with a problem, my mind continues to digest the problem and I become very tunnel visioned. While walking to Wakefield Hospital, my mind was consumed with trying to work out why the paper was not coming together; by the time I reached the surgeon’s rooms, all I wanted to do was open up my laptop and keep writing. I checked-in with the receptionist, took a seat in the waiting area, opened up my MacBook, and did exactly that – I kept writing. About ten minutes later, my brain registered that when I checked-in with the receptionist others were standing behind her, including the surgeon. I was completely and utterly tunnel visioned; a fail relationally on my behalf, and I realised too late.

My appointment time came and went. I was still writing. I was concerned though with how late the Physio was running. I really didn’t want to leave my friends waiting at the cafe, I was really looking forward to catching up. But I had to resign myself to the wait. Twenty five minutes later, the Physio finally called me into her room. She asked me to explain what happened in the past week, so I gave the two minute potted version. She asked the questions that I really didn’t like answering and while I was responding, weariness crept in. Weariness with having to revisit the same issues time and again. I really didn’t want to keep re-living the past problems, everything in me just wanted to know how to tackle my present normal in the future. The idea of starting with a new physio team out of this assessment was becoming less appealing as the minutes ticked by. Not for the first time, the question passed through my mind, what is the point of all these appointments, going over everything again? Would cancelling everything and just getting on with life be better? I was struck again by how important continuity of relationship is with rehab work; working with Physios who know the track record of progress. Relationship does matter.

All this was going through my head during the initial conversation. The Physio then moved to checking the muscle strength and movement in my legs. Within seconds, the muscle spasms start, worse than the day before. We were constantly stopping and starting, waiting for the muscle spasms to calm down before beginning again. After ten minutes of the same pattern, I felt like I was going mad. I know that the MRI result is acceptable, yet going through each of the movements was a reminder that something was going on; if everything was fine, my muscles in my legs wouldn’t be acting this way.  After another five minutes of the same, the Physio asked me how I was going and I said exactly what I was thinking, ‘I feel like I’m going mad’. Kindly, the Physio replied, ‘No, you’re definitely not going mad’. With the assessment over, the Physio suggested tentatively that I might need to continue with both hydro and pilates again. I was prepared for the pilates, but not for going back to hydro. Two new Physios, two new places, two more initial assessments. I wasn’t exactly thrilled. The Physio noted that she needed to talk to the surgeon before a decision is made about what the rehab plan now looks like. I would know by the end of the day.

Leaving the neurosurgery rooms at Wakefield, I was just glad to be out of there. I was now running forty five minutes late. Finally arriving at Coffylosophy, the cafe where I was meeting friends, I was thankful to be able to sit and enjoy warmth of conversation over good food. The frustration of the physio assessment soon a distant memory. I returned back to work in the afternoon a little more jovial after the late lunch and was able to get some marking done while waiting for a co-worker to take me ‘home’. The Physio still hadn’t called to let me know the plan. Walking through the front door of my brother’s house, my niece was running towards me shouting, ‘Mummy has a baby’. I was clueless as to what my niece was going on about until my sister-in-law pointed out what was on my niece’s t-shirt. And all thoughts of the day disappeared in the laughter that followed. My brother and sister-in-law are expecting their second child. In all the hoo-ha I missed the phone call. I returned the call to the surgeon’s rooms. The receptionist related to me the rehab plan that the surgeon and physio had agreed upon. I would be going back to outpatient rehab at Calvary Rehabilitation Hospital for the next six weeks. My reactions were mixed. Relief that I would be going back to the rehab team that I was working with previously, but also a sense that I was really going back to the beginning of my rehabilitation work. This plan was only for six weeks, it wasn’t long term. The long term would still have to wait.