Dangerous Compassions

physical therapy

physical therapy

I’ve had a pinched nerve for nine years which hurts me off and on, in my shoulders and neck.  There’s numbness and reduced functionality in my right hand also.

But the pain is always changing.  When my stress went up lately, I got pain in my jaw joint and temples also.

Friday I started physical therapy.  Scheduled two months before.  It was really difficult emotionally.  I wish Ming could have been with me.

The place felt sad, like a factory.  The music was horrible but not too loud.  There was an exercisey vibe and a faux medical vibe.  I was nervous.  Gyms and doctor-places are unwelcoming, painful places for me, over the course of my life.

I did 20 minutes of paperwork.  The physical therapist spent about five minutes with me, asking questions and writing a few things down.  Then he muttered instructions to the young person who was my assistant.  She taught me how to use two machines for arm exercises, and a rubber band thing.


“At least it’s my favorite color,” I told Ming.  They gave me some yellow stretchy stuff to loop on a door handle to do my homework every day.  “Like there’s not enough resistance in this world,” I said.

It was too much newness, uncertainty, and creepy capitalism bullshit.  The norms were hard for me to pick up.  If the exercises help, I’ll be glad.  But I didn’t learn much, and it felt like a scam almost.  About seven minutes of attention from them.  And how much are they billing for?

The other people were mostly there for legs.  And they were mostly old.  They seemed lonely and strange.  Serious, single-minded.  Like physical therapy robots.  There was no joking around!  The old men were white guys and reminded me of my dad, but my dad didn’t get to be old.

“He was older than he looked,” I said in my head, thinking about my dad, as I waited for a worker.  They told me to use this pulley thing for ten minutes, and I was pretty sure I wouldn’t make it past two minutes.  But I did, after all.


After physical therapy my treat was a walk at the wetlands.  But we were famished, so we stopped for some food on the way.

I cried for a long time.  At an intersection, on the road as Ming drove, in the drive through.  Cry cry cry cry cry.  I missed my mom.  I wished she could be proud of me.

Afterward can be so horrible.  I needed nurturing.  I told myself, “I’m proud of you.  Thank you for being responsible.  I’m glad you keep trying,” but it just wasn’t the same.

At the wetlands, I talked to my friend about the pain over zoom.  I took off my shirt and walked on a trail in my sports bra.  It was a different sports bra with less coverage, and I was confused if it was ok.  But I really wanted sun on more of my body.

“It’s just a body.  I don’t think I’m going to traumatize someone, if they see more of me than they want to,” I said to Ming afterward.

Kind of how men fighting is ok in a movie, but men kissing is edgy.  It’s just a fat woman’s body.  It’s not going to hurt you.

dumpster love

Our early morning walk, Ming took this picture of me by a dumpster.


By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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