As my occupational therapist lays me on the table to stretch my shoulder, she tells me she’ll likely have to put down her dog this weekend and that she’s unsure how to explain it to her young daughter. I relate by telling her my experience when we put down our dogs. I wasn’t much older than her daughter at the time.
Earlier, my physical therapist had me about her life stresses since her husband passed away. I relate by telling her things my mother went through when my father passed.
As I lay getting my shoulder stretched I think about how I’ve known both these people for many years. I’ve been in physical and occupational therapy since I was 2. I’m 21 now.
Thinking back to when I was little, I remember telling my therapists about school, family vacations, things I liked, funny memories — some I couldn’t wait to share the next time I saw them. Our conversations mostly revolved around me.
The place where I’ve been going to therapy has several branch locations. I used to go to the main campus until a branch opened a few minutes from my home 10 years ago. That means I started my PT and OT sessions here when I was about 11 years old. Thinking back, I recall the conversations with my therapists were about school and my life; I didn’t know too much about them.
I smiled to myself, wondering when the flip had switched and I became an adult, an equal to these people. Was it when I brought my live-in boyfriend to our intake appointment? Was it when I told them I was working? When I went away to college? I don’t know, but suddenly I was a part of these peoples’ lives. I could talk to them about life, real life. Yes, we could still talk about our family vacations, movies, the weather and other basics. But now we were talking about life and death, grief and loss.
For the first time in my life I felt like I was a friend to them; maybe this was part of the reason I finally became positive about physical therapy. I suggest this because, although both physical and occupational therapy are hard, PT was way more of a struggle for me because it was physically painful. (Maybe the physical pain is what made it hard to connect with the physical therapist. Same with the occupational therapist; maybe I thought she was boring, just like occupational therapy can be a lot of the time.)
But now, I didn’t mind attending either of them three times a week or more, if needed.
Over the years, I have had more therapists than I can count on one hand. But after our time was up together for whatever reason, I’ve wondered about all of them. And I wonder now what our relationships would be like if they could see me grown up.
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