Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Shorts Story

"So", I explained to the doctor, "although I can swim and walk perfectly well, my right leg is always on the edge of getting cramp. And if I do quite a long walk, and then drive, it always does get cramp, and it's agony. My screams and cursing may be heard as far away as Lancashire."

She examined the evidence. My right leg, of course, was the one that had the deep-vein thrombosis in 1984 and I've always limped a bit, especially when tired, ever since.

"So why do you limp, do you think?" asked the doctor.

"Well, my right leg just feels heavier than the left one, I think it's that," I said, "and it makes me walk slightly awkwardly, I'm always conscious of it."

"Have you ever had physiotherapy for it?" she asked.

"Er - - no," I said.

"Right, I'll refer you then," she said, "because I think it could help."

And it was then I remembered the Story of the Shorts.

I was last referred for physiotherapy in 1984. I wasn't in the best of states. I was twenty-eight: my first baby had died: I had been very ill: I had had a thrombosis in my right leg. I was very thin, though not in a good way. I had recently come out of hospital in a ward where my life had been saved, but the next person in age to me had been seventy-four. And indeed Kath and I had become good friends, since we were the two youngsters in the ward.

So I was thin, and sallow-skinned, and generally looked terrible. And, because of the DVT, my right leg was much fatter than my left one. It's still a bit fatter now, but not nearly as much.

So I turned up in the gym at St James's Hospital and it was full of fit, healthy young men with sports injuries. I felt about a hundred and thirty-three.

Out bounced the physiotherapist, who was a fit, healthy young man a bit older than I was.

"Right," he said, "you need to go and put your shorts on."

I was totally taken aback. "What shorts?"

"You need to wear shorts for this."

It had said on the information that I could wear shorts or track-suit trousers, and track-suit trousers were what I was wearing.

"I don't own any shorts. I don't wear shorts."

He just gazed at me. "Well you need shorts."

I gazed back. Finally I decided to spell it out. "I have just had a DVT and I have one leg fatter than the other. I've been really ill and I feel terrible and I don't want to wear shorts. I don't own any, and I haven't brought any. It said on the information that I could wear track-suit trousers, and I am."

"Oh no," he said, "you need to wear shorts for physiotherapy."

"So you are saying," I said carefully, "that without shorts I can't have physiotherapy?"

"Yes," he said.

"Is this for any health reason?"

"No, it's just policy."

"Right," I said, "I can't have physiotherapy then."

And I turned and left. He made no attempt to stop me.

Of course, I should have complained: firstly to the hospital and then to the press. Or I could have gone back and punched him, and then told the world why. But I was just feeling too fragile. I went home and I didn't have physiotherapy.

But hey, he was one of the many reasons why I've got into helping to teach Communication Skills to healthcare professionals. So not all bad, then.

I have never worn shorts since, and I never will. I will go for physiotherapy. And if any mention is made of shorts this time, there'll be Trouble with a capital T.


Anonymous Helen said...

I think the shorts are because it's very useful if the physio can see your legs, to make sure you're doing it right and spot any issues or weaknesses. Of course, he should have explained this to you, and perhaps make sure that the hospital changed its information literature for future! On the plus side, I had physio for my knee at Leeds Infirmary a couple of years ago - the physio was a very lovely helpful lady and there were private side rooms. Hopefully times have changed. Good luck!

8:20 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

Okay, don't wear shorts, wear hotpants instead - the kind that Bananarama used to wear on "Top of the Pops". We male physios have to enjoy some perks.

1:08 am  
Blogger Daphne said...

Helen - I think you're right, of course. If the physio had made any attempt to explain that, I would have been receptive to the explanation. But he didn't and that's why I think it was a Communication Skills issue - - - that and the fact that he was an idiot!
YP - - yes, I remember Bananarama on TOTP. Though clearly not with as much affection as you do!

12:41 pm  

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