I Don’t Look Like I’m in Pain

My seat was taken. By someone’s bag.

I dutifully arrived for my first physical therapy appointment half an hour early – ostensibly to finish filling out paperwork – and after some initial confusion as to where I was signing in, I had settled into a seat right across from the “New Patient” desk. I had just cracked open my book when the receptionist called me up to get my insurance card and collect the questionnaire I had completed at home. Yes, apparently they think this would take half an hour. As I was standing there, shifting my weight to take the pressure off my bad leg, she processed my (ridiculous) co-pay and my seat was taken. A woman swooped in and plopped herself in one of the two chairs and her enormous bag in the other chair. (I would like to note that I had only been occupying one and sat with my purse clutched in my lap.)

“Oh, there’s a problem with the printer,” the receptionist said, apologetically. “I can’t get it to print your receipt.”

I was more upset by the fact that I had to hobble farther away from the entrance to the actual “treatment rooms” and wedge myself in next to a man who reeked of cigarette smoke and stale alcohol. It was ten in the morning.

I went back to my book like I always do. Okay, I might have shot entitled woman an annoyed look from my second-class seat. I did not make the mistake of taking my things with me when the receptionist motioned me back up for a hand-written receipt. I risked my belongings for not having to sit in the parking lot while I waited.

“I’m going the one time and that’s it,” the smoke man said to his friend.

At that moment, I couldn’t help but agree.

I don’t look injured. I stick out in a sea of canes, walkers and wheelchairs. I walk with pain. But I walk.

I’m sure the woman with the big bag that needed a seat of it’s own, saw me and thought that it didn’t matter if I had to sit a little further away. There was probably nothing wrong with me.

The thing is: arthritis runs in my family. My mom has bad knees. The other thing: I fell down my front steps when I was almost seven months pregnant. I sprained my ankle – what originally appeared to be the extent of the damage – but I also landed badly on my rear end and lower back.  At a time when one’s body is all out of whack, joints under increased pressure and ligaments stretched, I went and fell down the fucking stairs.

You can see it on the X-rays. Right now, my case is classified as “mild,” but that doesn’t mean that I don’t hurt. I do. Hurt. A lot. I can be sitting or standing or walking or laying in bed not moving and I feel pain starting in my back and reaching all the way to my knee. Maybe it’s not as bad as your* pain, but it is pain.

I don’t want to go. I don’t want to be there. I don’t want to be told that my poor posture isn’t helping things, or that my ankles roll inwards.

But I don’t want to be in pain.

So I go.

*The undefined you. That other person that I may or may not be talking to


About Kirsten

Wife, mother, writer and all around knerd. Maker of cookies, scarves and really big messes.

Posted on March 14, 2011, in Vignettes and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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