The Physiotherapist

I have spent thousands upon thousands of dollars on physiotherapy in the twenty-plus years since my fall. I have done weights with physiotherapists, been placed on stretching racks, been in body braces, calipers, body casts, had my muscles shocked, been in hydrotherapy pools, and so much more. I still have the initial regime on paper, that I was instructed to do ten times a day, on top of swimming, hydro and physio sessions. It went on for years. To be honest, I was now full of hubris, believing I knew all there was to know, and could do the required moves in my sleep.

When my doctor set up a health plan for their physiotherapy department, I procrastinated. I was too busy for such indulgence, and besides, I knew everything there was to know! In spite of myself, I made a booking. My, how I laughed at the new patient form I was required to fill out, with minimal space in which to answer how many operations I have had, and what my injuries were. I had to resort to miniscule writing, to make it all fit.

The physiotherapy department really knew their stuff, massaging and kneading and coaxing trapped nerves to yield with subtle movements. They explained how the various muscle groups had compensated for my injuries, and what the plan was. Of course, they asked how on earth a teen had managed to obtain such injuries in the first place, and I told them in a matter-of-fact manner about the abduction and attempted murder. There was shocked silence, until I broke the ice, and then we all laughed as I regaled them with tales of the characters I met throughout the months I was in the rotor bed. It is a hell of a tale to lay on a stranger!

One of the fellows has a partner, and this week, I asked what they had done for Valentine’s Day. I was expecting the usual; that he had ordered red roses and chocolates and that they had gone out for dinner. Instead, he replied that after work, he had met his partner in the city, and they had purchased crates of fruit and water. They had then handed out bags to 200 homeless gathered near Central Station. “We don’t need gifts,” he explained. Apparently, they did this every birthday as well. “We don’t spend money on useless stuff, we buy things that will really help someone else.”  I said in reply, “that my friend, is real love.”  Not only have he and his colleague gifted me with their knowledge regarding my spinal column and neck, but he also revealed  what real romantic love can be in this world. Sacrifice, kindness, humility. I could picture this gentle man and his equally lovely girlfriend smiling as they handed out water on a blisteringly hot evening in Sydney. We talked of the lack of affordable housing in our city, and wondered aloud how greed has been allowed to become master and major consideration in all things. If he were to run for office, I would be his campaign manager. Imagine if everyone repurposed a fraction of their wants and put those resources toward others. Miracles could happen, just as surely as muscle groups yield to a physiotherapists’ masterful hands. I left buoyed with the thought that hundreds of people in this city felt loved on Valentine’s Day because of this dynamic duo.

After more than twenty years, I still have a thing or two to learn from physiotherapists. I rediscovered the difference they can make as to how I manage my pain. I have also rediscovered the gold one uncovers when you have nowhere to go and nothing to do but be in the moment.

Magnanimity

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My wonderful friend, Swamiyesudas has just posted a piece about kindness over on his blog, urging everyone to perform an act of kindness each day. Imagine the ripple effect! My child never ceases to amaze me with her understanding of kindness. A few weeks ago, a little friend of hers had to have some medical tests. She was concerned about her friend, and wanted to go along for support. We were just about to leave the house to go meet them when my daughter turned around and ran into her room. She came out with her beloved bulldog, made at a soft-toy party a few years ago. She gave it to her little friend, and the joy exuding from both of them lit up the train carriage as we made our way into the city. Her friend had found a light sabre on their last playdate, and gave it to my daughter to keep. My kid hadn’t forgotten her kindness. It is hard to describe how ecstatic my daughter was when we bumped into her friend at the shops a few days later. There she was, clutching the bulldog. “She loves him!” my daughter exclaimed. “Yes, she certainly does!” I smiled.

Last weekend, I took her into the city. There were hoards of people around as we strolled through Haymarket, and I grabbed a hold of her hand. Suddenly, she paused. She retrieved the pocket-money from her purse and went over to a man sitting on the ground. He had two little dogs next to him, and was strumming The Beatles’ Blackbird on his guitar. She gave him everything in her purse. He looked up and smiled, tears in his eyes. As we continued walking, she said, “mum, I have a tingle all over. Giving feels wonderful doesn’t it?” Yes it does darling, yes it does. A child noticed a homeless man and his little dogs. I hope that he does indeed take his broken wings and learn to fly.

As we walked through Darling Quarter, we came across a table filled with exquisite paper flowers. A lady smiled at my daughter, and handed her one. I took an information card. They were giving away flowers in honour of Esther Day. Esther was sixteen when she died, and her wish was for people to spread love to others. She would be proud of these beautiful people, I am sure. Kindness is given and received, in an endless cycle of magnanimity.

My daughter with her Esther Day flower
My daughter with her Esther Day flower

The next day we met a grand elderly lady called Anna at the bus stop. I told her that I had been admiring her colourful way of dressing for the longest while, and had been meaning to tell her. She would board the bus smiling, her slight figure clothed in emerald, sapphire and ruby-red hats and coats. We got into a conversation, and she told us that she volunteered at our local palliative care ward, sitting with loved ones, offering cups of tea and comfort. My little girl was regaled by her stories, and sat with her the whole bus trip, Anna’s arm around her. Kindness goes around in an endless cycle of magnanimity…

To learn more about Esther Day and many other inspiring projects, check out The Deluminators