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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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Chicago Review Press

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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it. → 

« Christmas Eve Eve. | Main | How many neurotics does it take to make a fire? »

Join me, won't you, as I wallow for a bit?

My physical therapist is giving me a complex. Is he supposed to do that? Is that included in his list of services?

I was hoping to just get this shoulder pain treated, but apparently the rest of me is in complete shambles. It's a wonder that I'm ambulatory. The first thing he observed, as every medical professional I have ever seen or walked by or made out with wants to tell me, is that my shoulders are hunched forward. Yes, I know, and you know what? They've always been like that, and there's apparently nothing I can do about it. I am a freak. There, are you happy? Are you satisfied, medical professionals of the world? I have freaky narrow shoulders that are bizarrely tipped forward. I thought it was a likeable slouch, but apparently it is WRONG and CRAZY and needs to be TSK-TSKED over.

And that's not all!

"Did you know that your torso is twisted over to one side?" the therapist asks.

I sigh. I actually did know that. "It's come up," I said.

"Does your back hurt?"

"Sort of. Yes. Pretty much always." I like to just not think about it, Physical Therapist Guy, but now that you're reminding me, OW. THANKS.


"Your right hip is twisted, as well."

"That might be because of the, uh, club foot."

"You have a club foot?"

"Well, I did, at least that's what they called it, but they treated it when I was little. So now it's okay."

He frowns. "Except it's thrown off your entire right side."

"I'm sorry," I murmur. Why am I apologizing?

Then he tries to twist my neck in some sort of impossible direction.


"That hurts?"

No, ow is my mantra. "Yup."

"Your neck is extraordinarily stiff. I could only move it this much. " He shows me a tiny increment with his two fingers. "I should be able to move it this much," he says, and swivels his head 360 degrees. (I exaggerate, but less than you might think.)

Well, kudos. Aren't you nimble! I will call you Mr. Nimbles! "Wow," I say.

"Yeah. That's a problem."

And it is only the beginning of my problems. The biggest one is that, after seeing him four times, after having been manipulated and stretched and prodded and told how stiff and inflexible I am, the pain in my arms is worse than ever. "Your body's not healing itself," he tells me. Then he takes my blood pressure, which is, according to him, alarmingly low. Technically I shouldn't be alive. All my blood should be pooling around my ankles—my freaky ankles.

I'm supposed to go for blood tests, because, I don't know, he's concerned about my liver? Honestly I stopped listening after a while. I should probably just go to someone else, someone who'll make me feel not quite so misshapen and hopeless. He's not saying things I didn't already know, so I can't blame him entirely. But no one else has made me feel quite so unfixable.

He also told me not to eat too much sugar, because it will impede my healing. But really, after you make me feel that bad, you think I'm not going to go home and eat cookies? Well, you don't know everything, Mr. Body Smarts Guy.

Reader Comments (97)

See a new PT!! I had to to to physical therapy on a regular basis all throughout high school and college because of various sports injuries ranging from a pinched nerve in my spine to stress fractures in my shins and I had a wonderful experience and also saw positive results. Not all PTs are like this guy! Find one who works for you!
December 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKristen
Just because a doctor is telling you things you don't want to hear doesn't mean he doesn't want to help you. I know I enjoy moving my arms and neck. He doesn't sound that mean just matter of fact and maybe he can help you.
December 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGwen
Don't fall for it. Lots of people (PTs, chiropractors, etc.) want to tell you that you're so "out of alignment" that it's a good thing you arrived today, because by tomorrow they wouldn't have been able to save you. As a PT veteran, I strongly advise you to find someone new if you don't see some noticeable improvement within a couple weeks. Don't spend a year flushing your time and money down the toilet like I did.
December 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterspoiledonlychild
yes time to go to a new doctor
December 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbabyslingsgirl
I, too, have freakishly low blood pressure and am still alive. (A doctor once made me do jumping jacks and then took it again just to make sure.) When I was pregnant I kept having to tell people that anything about 80 for my top number IS high, for me, since I'm usually, apparently, the living dead.
December 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan
I second all the "get another" responses. I see a chiropractor, who uses a little instrument to make adjustments instead of her hands. Works and when I get stressed and my neck seizes up? She doesn't criticize me, just tries to convince my vertebre to go back where they belong.My 75 year old mother had polio as a child and now has many other physical problems caused by all those years of over compensating. Exercise makes the problems worse because it causes her remaining muscles to deteriorate faster. She saw a PT one time that insisted he knew more than the MDs and insisted that it would build her strength to exercise. Idiot. Apparently he'd never heard that polio kills the muscles and you can't build up what you don't, when faced with an idiot, remember you have choices.
December 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterleigh
I hate when doctor's make us feel like our bodies are totally broken, aren't they suppose to make us feel better.

My applied kinesologist and my osteopath have been telling me I don't know how to breathe for years - yet here I am, still typing.

December 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDeidre
Maybe try a chiropracter instead. They are always more upbeat! And the one I used to go to used to have me lie on the table face down with a heating pad on my back and neck before he tried to manipulate me. It helped a lot plus I got to nap.
December 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMauigirl
Alice - between you and Brian I just spit all over my monitor laughing so hard. I hope things improve!
December 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAndi
Well ol'Stu is just full of Christmas cheer isn't he? I hope you feel better. I've been dealing with pain in my shoulders/neck/back due to hauling around a laptop in my messenger bag for work. The orthopedic dr. I saw today for my uhhh golf/tennis elbow due to playing catch in August and hyperextending my elbow said um use a backpack with two shoulder straps. I'm like yeah I get that but it doesn't look real professional walking into meetings for my clients with a backpack on my back. Sooo not sure what I'm going to do with that!
December 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJen S
See? This is why Bossy Just Says No to self improvement.
December 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBOSSY
Adding my voice to the call for a chiropractor. Husband had similar problem with his neck/finger joints. Chiro fixed that AND some other problems without knowing they were problems. And, a good chiro won't "crack the heck out of all your joints."

December 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterImanitsud
Stoopid physical therapist guy!
December 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterFatChick
You might try finding a chiropractor who does Network Spinal Analysis (NSA). It is amazing, and I believe it has the potential to correct every problem you wrote you have.
December 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterValerie
" 'Ow' is my mantra"... classic.

I also have freakishly low blood pressure. I'm hoping this means something awesome... like, I am a cool, sophisticated vampire not yet diagnosed as such. More likely though, I also have blood just pooling at my cankles.
December 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne
Cookies are definitely the solution I would seek out. I would probably have laughed out loud had he said that to me.
December 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJenn
alice, i heart you and think you are both hilarious and a good person. and that is wjy i want to tell you: go see a chiropractor, ASAP.

there are many myths about chiros, but the reasoning behind this great profession is: your nervous system controls everything. chiros help restore the connection between your brain and body. this can both relieve pain and also result in the resolution of systemic problems in the long run. (as in finding the cause of disease, instead of only treating symptoms.)

just make sure the chiro a) corrects spinal misalignments (or subluxations), b) takes x-rays, to get a solid idea about the biomechanics of your body, and c) is certified in the technique they practice.

any questions, PLEASE email me. you deserve to be healthy and happy.
December 20, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterlauri
Hi Alice,This is seemingly off-topic, but just letting you know, I nominated you for an award on my blog. :-)
December 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCatPants
I dated one of those assholes once. According to him I shouldn't be able to walk or talk. I have the shoulder issue too. Lived with it my whole life and hasn't bothered me yet!
December 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMary CC
I had a chiropractor tell me that because I don't poop three or four times a day that I'm likely pre-diabetic and that unless I went to him biweekly, I would not ever feel better. I went to see him for a persistent head and neck-ache. I subsequently told him that he was full of shit. That felt pretty good.
December 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAmber
I'm so sorry you have to go through such incompetence and insensitivity. Really, I wish you luck on finding better care.

On another note, this entry was written wonderfully!
December 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie
Don't take it so personally. Nothing is your fault, it's just what happened to your body. If you want things to get better, do what needs to be done, and don't listen so intently. Fix the stuff you can now, rather than waiting for it all to get worse. Of course you can change your posture--have you tried Alexander Technique? Or real Pilates?
December 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

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