To read more about the library book project, click here.
I sit stiffly in the physiotherapist’s waiting room, trying to be more aware of my posture. Across from me, numerous flyers and leaflets hang limply from the walls. I read them all, despite having read them a dozen times before while waiting for my previous appointments. I would have brought my library book, but I was too busy getting together my physio outfit. I’m past the point of caring that the tracksuit bottoms are hardly flattering, but I draw the line at tops that haven’t been washed since last week.
I hope he doesn’t give me anymore exercises to do. The chart on my bedroom wall is already full of gaps from the odd day where I only had time for one or two routines. I close my eyes and suppress a disgusted sigh when I realize I have forgotten the chart. I can only assume that when physiotherapists are trained, they also teach them how to use this particular tone of voice that is 100% effective at making patients squirm. Mine always deploys it when I say something like, “No, I haven’t found a new bag yet.” or, “I didn’t do my exercises this weekend,” or, “I forgot my chart.”
Not that I’m complaining. The exercises are definitely helping, and I’ve heard horror stories about ignorant physios on the HMS forum. Hypermobility syndrome, I run the term through my head again. I’m used to it now, but when my GP said it, I almost laughed. Hypermobile? I’ve never been able to touch my toes. I was doubtful, but when I did research, and when I visited the rheumatologist, the little problems all began to make sense.
The way my hands would sometimes seize up when writing, the way my joints sometimes hurt inexplicably. I would never have thought to connect them to my shoulders, which popped out and grated with the slightest provocation. The rheumatologist seemed certain I did have this thing, this hypermobility syndrome, and I felt slightly cheered on knowing there was an explanation for these little things that I’d always taken for granted.
The cheer was short lived. The physiotherapist wagged his finger at me on the first appointment. No ice skating or volleyball for you. I had to be more careful, he shook his head, or I would end up in A&E before you could say “dislocated shoulder.” He lifted my bag and proclaimed it too heavy. I laughed because I’d already half emptied it before coming to the appointment.
My smile faded. I’d always assumed disabilities were about the things you couldn’t do. Where did I fit in with all the shouldn’ts?