Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I heart my physio

it's a good day when i get to see oliver. that's not his real name, that's just what i call him. we have that kind of relationship, the kind where i give him pet names and he laughs at all my jokes. it's my shoulder that brought us together, my supraspinatus to be exact, but our relationship has gone beyond that now. oliver would do anything to heal me, and i would let him. do anything.

why do i always develop such a crush on my PTs? i do not know. i am smart enough to recognize transference when it pulls back the cubicle curtain to say hello, but i've never developed adequate transference in psychotherapy sessions. with counsellors i feel nervousness and shame. with my GP, performance anxiety. i'm neutral with my dentist. but check me into a physiotherapy session and i turn into a daddy's girl.

that's right: this does not happen with physios who are women. with them, i am a co-conspirator, a professional ally, tackling together this ruptured tendon or that torn hamstring. i do not wear my best bra or thrill to the prospect of ultrasound gel. we compare notes dispassionately on range of movement, avenues of treatment, prognoses and cautions. i want their respect. and when i earn it, sure, i think of baking them banana bread, but i don't spend long hours wondering whether their wives would mind me sending postcards from hawaii.

oliver knows everything. he speaks in latin phrases: swoon! his office is full of dangerous technical equipment -- stationary bikes, exercise balls, floor mats, you name it -- and he is the master of them all. "have we had you on the arm bike?," he asks. the arm bike! "no," i say, "but i sure would like to." he picks up a piece of surgical tubing and i feel my heart race: is that for me? he tells me to do three sets of exercises. i do four. i can tell by the furrow in his brow that my shoulder is a puzzle, but i can also tell, by the tender seriousness in his gaze, that oliver is not afraid of a rotator cuff injury. when i'm in pain, he's in pain. we share every triumph.

sometimes it's hard to be oliver's favorite. today, for instance, the girl in the next cubicle said, "okay, well, i'll call you tomorrow after that appointment." what? i retracted my scapula extra hard while i chewed on this. the thing is, though, our relationship just won't work if i get territorial. i can be generous. right? can i? i test out "generous," and it comes out magnanimous. little miss pre-op next door can't touch what oliver and i have.

when he comes in next to check on me i say, "i took the plane back from new york yesterday with a group that had just run the boston marathon." meaning: we should train for a marathon together, oliver. he says, "oh, i missed watching it this year." meaning: i missed you too, heather.


i bet he can't wait for tuesday at 9:30.