Since I am having difficulty standing and walking -- the pain in my knees and feet is fairly intense, about a 4-5 on a 10-point pain scale, and rising to 8 (or higher!) when the gout kicks in -- and this is preventing me from working, the state has mandated that in order for me to continue to receive benefits, I must go to physical therapy.
So, I'll be going to physical therapy twice a week for the next few weeks. Fortunately, Bellingham Physical Therapy is near my home, in the same strip mall -- Sehome Village -- as my grocery store, Haggen. That's convenient!
Being forced into PT is a good thing. It gets me out of the house, it forces me to get some exercise, and, of course, the exercises are supposed to help me stand and walk freely again.
I am sure these people at the physical therapy place don't quite know what to make of me. The Physical Therapists (PT) are people who are all about movement and physical fitness, and here I am, the complete opposite: laziest, most sedentary slob they have probably ever encountered. Most of their clients are people who were injured on the job, or have suffered sports injuries.
Me, I'm just a a giant fat guy whose knees and feet are giving out, because of his sheer size and sedentary lifestyle.
Still, I have to admit I enjoyed the session. Bellingham Physical Therapy is a teaching institution, where student doctors come to get hands-on training for PTs. My PT was a handsome and buff young guy (mid 20s?) from the University of Idaho named Jon. Originally from North Dakota, Jon has to be a Swede -- very pale, blue eyes, blond hair and eyebrows, just a few shades redder than Albino, fine pale hair on his well-muscled arms, nice big package. What can I say, he made for nice eye candy. Not my usual type, but very pretty to look at. Oh, please grow a beard and take me, you handsome Viking.
While he examined my knees, legs and feet, determining which bones and joints were causing trouble, a senior staff member sat in and watched him work, occasionally asking questions of me. I got the feeling she was kind of disgusted by me, having let my body go to waste like this. He did a much better job of hiding his judgements than she did. Whatever.
After the examination, they determined what the course of treatment would be. The goal is to get me ambulatory again, though exercises and weight loss. The gout will have to be taken care of by my MD, and I need new shoes and orthodics, but they can help with the arthritis in the knees, the knock-knees, and the ankle weakness. Since walking is my preferred form of exercise, they are striving to get me walking actively again.
After showing me some exercises they want me to do every day -- and I will! -- they said they were starting me off slow and would work me up into a more rigorous regimen over time. They've scheduled me to come in twice a week over the next few weeks, and since my medical coupon covers it, it's nice -- kind of like going to a gym, except that I don't have to pay for it, it's not super overwhelming the way a gym is, and I have hand-on personalized attention every time I go. Which, for me, may be exactly what I need to start getting exercise.
After the session, they put me on the stationary bike for 15 minutes, and told me they wanted me to do this for 15 minutes each time I come in. Okey by me, it felt a lot less stressful than a gym. Then they gave me the standard lecture about the dangers of smoking, and sent me home.
We'll see what happens over time with this!