Difficult Choices Between Tendon Release Surgery and Physical Therapy

Difficult Choices Between Tendon Release Surgery and Physical Therapy

Living Life with CP

This month, following mountains and mountains of stress, I sat in the waiting room of the specialist I’ve seen for the past 21 years. Over the course of the month I had to medically withdraw from my senior year in college; my physical, mental, and emotional health was in shambles.

As I sit in the waiting room I expect to be told soon I will need nothing more than physical therapy. Maybe we will talk about pain management options again. I probably will get Botox injections again. I have to tell my physician about my anxiety, the pain in my ankles and hips, and the stiffness.

The smiling nurse, who it seems I’ve seen a million times, comes to greet me. She’s known me since I was a child. She leads me back to check my height, weight, blood pressure, run down my list of medications, and we catch up with chat before she leaves me in a room to wait for the doctor.

When the doctor comes in I tell her all about my new pains, the extreme difficulty I suddenly have walking, the crippling anxiety, and the overall stiffness in my body. She tells me my feet appear to be “dead,” for lack of another term, and that they are no longer reaching a neutral position. She notes that my left foot is turning in. As my specialist finishes with me she tells me I likely will need another tendon release surgery and to call my surgeon.

Surgeon checks tendon

A few days later I’m sitting in the back room waiting for my surgeon. My mouth is dry with anticipation. My body is numb with fear, but alive with a nervous buzz. My whole body is vibrating and tingling. He comes in, goes over the basic information, compares notes and examines me. When he is finished he tells me I’m not a candidate for tendon surgery now because my muscles are too tight.

My chest feels tight, my head dizzy and empty. “What will we do now?”

He suggests physical therapy to help loosen my muscles. He thinks with intense therapy I may not need surgery, but at the very least it will prepare me if I do need it after all. I left the office and began some stretches immediately, fearing an inpatient stay. It could be as much as a six-week stay, if I need to go in. I’ve never been this bad before. All I can do is wait while my specialist and surgeon consult.

More than a week passes, still no word. Three days later, the phone rings. My specialist tells me I have two options. I could go inpatient and have therapy three hours a day in an intensive program, or I could find an outpatient facility and go to physical therapy three times a week, with added occupational therapy two times a week.

I had my evaluation for outpatient PT and OT, which I will start next week. This will be one hell of a ride.

Note: Cerebral Palsy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cerebral Palsy News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cerebral palsy.

Hello, My name is Brittney and I am a columnist with Cerebral Palsy. I focus on writing about lifestyle and believe that everyone's experience is relevant, no matter the disability. I support, and advocate for, the mainstreaming and normalization of children with disabilities and their families, as well as advocating for parents and children who need to go the more specialized route. I hope that my content provides a positive reinforcement that it is possible to live a happy and fulfilled life even with a disability.

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