On Wednesday evening, I had my first ever physiotherapy appointment.
I know what you’re thinking – how can a man on the very precipice of turning thirty-eight, who has tried his damnedest to fill those thirty-eight years with as many ridiculous accidents as possible, avoid physiotherapy until now? Amazing as it may seem, it’s true.
I suspect the main reason for my impressive track record, is that – by some miracle – I have never broken a bone, nor suffered any serious injury, which required rehabilitation.
Ok, while playing football I have bent my finger back, as well as snapping a metal crossbar from its supporting goalposts and down onto my head (not during the same match, I hasten to add). Oh, and there was also that time I sledged at speed (and out of control) into a different goalpost, with my legs – and, from painful recollection, my individual testicles – going their separate ways either side….
What’s worse, that’s only the injuries sustained on the playing fields adjacent to where I grew up. One specific location, in one comparatively short period of my life, resulted in three potentially serious injuries (that I can remember – there may have been more, but the fucking crossbar really did a job on my memory).
The fact is, when we add up all the injuries I have sustained throughout my lifetime, it’s a wonder at least a dozen of them didn’t kill me, let alone result in prolonged treatment.
Then, in the latter stages of last year, a chance encounter between my right hip and a rogue door handle brought my impressive record to an end. At the time, the initial impact seemed relatively innocuous – I mean, it hurt like hell, and our house was instantly filled with the sort of violent expletives that would make a Tourette’s sufferer blush; but as far as injuries go, I’ve had worse.
It’s usually my outer extremities which are the most prone to harm (my head on door frames, my feet on sharp toys, my scrotum on Isaac’s foot, etc.), so, once the pain in my hip had subsided, I thought nothing more of it. In fact, aside from some delightful bruising, which closely resembled Van Gogh’s The Starry Night (there’s a bit of culture for you), the side effects appeared to be relatively short-lived.
However, soon after the bruising faded, I noticed that my hip was clicking when I went up and down stairs, and, after a few weeks, this developed into a disturbing crunching sound.
I therefore made an appointment to see my GP, and having examined and ‘manipulated’ my hip, he told me it was nothing to be too worried about, but suggested I still get some physiotherapy.
Unfortunately, the physiotherapist associated with my GP surgery (which had a surprisingly short waiting time for the NHS), does not offer evening and weekend appointments, so I opted instead to pay for private treatment.
A friend recommended a sports injury osteopath in Sandbach, and, having e-mailed an enquiry to them around 8:00pm last Monday evening, they had impressively responded by 9:00pm, with a few different appointment options for me.
My friend had suggested that I try to see the main doctor (whose practice it is), since, although his two colleagues – one male, one female – are no doubt very well qualified, he had no personal experience of either, and so he could only recommend the osteopath who had always ‘fixed’ him in the past.
I therefore took a more detailed look at their website, because the thought of having osteopathy for the first time was somewhat daunting, and I wanted to have a better idea of what to expect. After all, no word ending in ‘-path’ is ever good news: psychopath, sociopath, warpath, towpath, etc., so I was understandably apprehensive of osteopaths in general (without checking the definition, I assumed ‘osteo-path’ meant something like ‘destroyer of bones’).
Of the available appointments, I had the choice of waiting until this Wednesday to see the main doctor, or alternatively I could see his female colleague even sooner (last Wednesday), and at a more convenient time.
This presented me with a dilemma. Not only had my friend specifically recommended the main practitioner, but I had also noticed on their website a section entitled ‘what to expect on your first visit’, and the point which immediately jumped out at me, was that you would be expected to undergo an examination in your underwear. By that, I don’t mean they would examine inside your underwear, more that you would be expected to undress for the assessment.
The website went on to explain that the alternative was to wear ‘cycling shorts and a sports bra’ (I assume the latter being primarily for ladies), but since I don’t even own a bicycle, possessing cycling shorts has never seemed appropriate (albeit marginally more appropriate than, say, buying myself a sports bra). Boxers it would have to be.
Now, for some reason (and I accept this is entirely irrational), I didn’t fancy stripping down to my underwear for any woman other than my wife, even if said female happened to be a trained physician. Aside from the fact that even my wife appears to be repulsed by the sight of me in boxer shorts – so I would like to preserve what is left of my already fragile ego – my main issue was that, whilst the osteopath would be nothing but professional, I would inevitably make things awkward and inappropriate. I can’t help it, it’s what I do.
At the mere thought of being manipulated (in a physical sense) by a female professional – whilst semi-naked – my brain immediately began conjuring scenarios in which I would surely make things horrendously uncomfortable (in a non-physical sense) for the both of us. As someone who loves nothing more than a bit of innuendo (‘in your endo’), I don’t think I would be able to resist certain opportunities. For example:
“Ok, do you want to take your clothes off?”
“Can you feel that muscle start to stretch?”
“Let me know when it starts to go stiff”
You get the general idea.
So, bearing in mind the potential for embarrassment, and the fact that – whilst not exactly my type – the lady osteopath happened to be young and somewhat attractive, I opted to wait the extra week and see the main doctor.
I have to say, when I arrived on Wednesday evening for my appointment, he was warm (both in terms of his manner, and – thankfully – his hands), and patient. He took my medical history, a brief description of the pain I have been having, and then asked me to take my clothes off for a physical assessment.
I briefly flirted (no, not like that), with the idea of saying something inappropriate like ‘don’t you want to buy me dinner first?’, but my internal ‘don’t try to be funny’ sensor went off just in time, and I held it in – along with my stomach, which I was instantly conscious of as I undressed, even though I was not trying to attract this man in any way whatsoever.
In the hour-long physical assessment which followed, a number of interesting developments occurred:
Firstly, my collision with the door handle – whilst undoubtedly the trigger for me noticing the clicking, and for seeking treatment – is not the cause of my problem, and it is far more likely that my return to running last year has aggravated an underlying condition.
Secondly, that underlying condition has materialised because my posture, spine, and general skeletal structure is, in medical terms, ‘a bit shit’. Obviously the osteopath was far too professional to use that exact phrase, but it’s clearly what he meant.
Thirdly, I am apparently a fucking wimp when it comes to the infliction of pain, and I wouldn’t last thirty seconds were I to be captured and tortured by the Taliban or ISIS (which is admittedly unlikely, when my travels rarely see me venturing anywhere further afield than Spain).
At one point during the assessment, he folded me into a sort of foetal position, as if he intended to squeeze me into a suitcase, and then the conversation went a little like this:
“Right, what I’m going to do now, is gently apply pressure to your hip with my elbow. I want you to start counting upwards to ten, describing the level of pain, and when we get to about seven, we’ll pause there for ninety seconds, ok?”
“Right, so I’ll start to apply gentle pressure n-“
“ARRRRRRGGGHHHH! EIGHT! EIGHT! EIIIIGGGHHHHT, YOU SADISTIC DEVIANT BASTARD. GET OFF ME!”
Ok, I may have use artistic licence to embellish my reaction slightly (but only slightly).
In the end, however, I was very impressed with his manner, diagnosis, treatment plan and easy-to-understand descriptions (I’d mentioned my A-level in Biology from twenty years ago, but he rightly assumed that I remembered none of it, and described everything as if my knowledge of anatomy lay somewhere between toddler and GCSE level).
Then, just as things were going so well, came the crushing blow. He informed me that my next appointment (and first proper session of treatment) should ideally be before I run the Oulton Park 10k at the end of February, but he could not offer any evening appointments with him until the end of March.
As such, he confirmed that my next session will have to be with his female colleague.
On Valentine’s Day.
So, now I have to find a way to explain to my wife, that I shall be spending the most romantic night of the calendar year getting undressed in front of an attractive female, before allowing her to place me in all sorts of compromising positions, and pressing herself up against me until I feel less stiff.
Actually, she’s bound to read this at some point, so that ought to do the trick.