To Your Health

The world is deprived of so many good stories by those darned HIPPA confidentiality rules that govern health care. But I can tell you that just this week, I’ve added a couple of new orthopedic diagnoses from the layman’s medical lexicon: corporal tunnel disease of the wrist and rutter cup injury of the shoulder.

I’ve also seen demonstrated in recent patients how the therapist’s role is often simply to give permission with confidence.

“Yes, it’s okay to move your arm two weeks now since your fall. In fact, you must. You can pay now or you can pay later. But you need to make the distinction between discomfort and harm. What I will ask you to do will hurt some, but it will not harm you.”

And with the confidence that motion is allowed and that there is someone to take a certain responsibility for their early recovery from injury and someone to whom they are accountable, the improvements are often amazing.

And I can tell this story I heard from a close relative this week, about the very elderly lady neighbor who fell recently–a stubborn person, medically, not in a hospital or doctor’s office for the 70 years since her last child was born. She fell into the empty bathtub (not while bathing, just tipped arse over teakettle) and could not get out for some hours.

A custodian finally heard her hollering and helped her out, but she refused to let him call anyone. She knew what to do for her aches and pains.

Someone had told her that a two pound bag of frozen peas worked well for this kind of discomfort.

So when her neighbors learned of her accident soon afterward, they found her in her recliner, two pounds of very unfrozen free-ranging lima beans underneath her, scattered about her chair on the floor and all in the folds of her blanket.

Nobody ever told her the peas worked best left inside the bag.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. ROFL.
    My father just passed out and fell the other day and was dragged to the hospital by my sister. It was the second time – when it happened the first time, and he fell off a chair and hit his head, then crawled from the bathroom to the bed to rest – he didn’t think it was important enough to tell anyone.