Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Stranger's Story

Today I had my first physical therapy visit.  The PT is housed within the neurosurgeon's office, so he is primarily focused on improving whatever needs to be improved to help my back and spine be more healthy, which in theory should help my sciatic nerve and foot in the long run (maybe a very long and drawn out one). 

By the way, I didn't take my meds first since I needed to drive, so I was feeling like myself mentally - no giggling during PT this morning.

When I left the office, an older man in the elevator let me go out ahead of him. I told him I move really slow and he might want to go ahead of me.  Then he told me his story.

He said he couldn't walk quickly either - and was moving along at my pace - he said he had a terrible headache.  He has a cervical injury.  The treatment to help his back gives him headaches bad enough to share it with me, a person he's never met before, bad enough to make him walk very slow. 

When we got outside, he stopped to talk to me, to tell me about it before he walked to his car to drive home.  He's not able to work because of the neck injury.  I couldn't believe he was driving - I know how those headaches feel and I know it's not good to drive when your head hurts that bad.  My headaches affect my vision - I really hope his didn't. 

He stood there and talked to me for several minutes before we went in different directions toward our parked cars. 

I understand totally how he feels.  He's at the mercy of the doctors.  He has no control over the situation.  If he says no to the treatment to keep from getting extreme headaches, he will continue to have the neck pain which is also unbearable.  I absolutely understand that feeling. 

I looked him in the eye and listened intently to his story until he was done.  I told him I hope he feels better soon and that they are able to fix it.  I said a little prayer for him in the car - I'm not very religious so I don't know if my prayers are effective, but I believe in the strength of positive energy and sent him some of mine in the form of a prayer and this post. 

I hope it made him feel just a tiny bit better that I really listened.  I didn't tell him about my foot or how frustrated I'm feeling.  It didn't matter.  What mattered is that I could totally empathize with him.  I think he walked away with knowing one other person in the world got it.  I hope that helped.


  1. I'm sure that just listening and offering encouragement did help this man. It was very considerate that you gave him an outlet, while asking nothing in return. I hope that the physical therapy helps you and you're able to continue to do things you love without pain. Julie

  2. I'm sure that helped. Having someone take the time to listen--truly listen--makes a world of difference.

  3. @Julie - Thanks. I've run into so many people in doctor's offices lately with stories worse than mine - especially people alone. It was terrible this guy had to drive himself when he knew it was going to hurt so much.

    @Lynda - I mostly hang out with my two year old and lately can't stop talking when I'm around adults. I'm glad I just listened today - maybe it's the crazy meds calming me down. :)