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