What physical therapy taught me about the determination of moms

About a month ago, I shared with you about my experiences with anxiety and depression on spring break. One of the things I mentioned in that post was seeing a new doctor for my fibromyalgia who prescribed physical therapy for me, including aquatic therapy.

While I’ve done physical therapy many times throughout my adult life for a variety of body parts (that should have been my first clue to fibromyalgia!), I hadn’t done aquatic therapy before. I felt anxious going to the pool the first day for a few reasons.

First, being in your bathing suit in front of strangers is just not fun. Bathing suits feel so very exposed.

Second, I was nervous about how my bladder would handle the chlorine. Chlorine tends to flare my interstitial cystitis bladder symptoms.

Third, I didn’t really know what to expect. Any time I don’t know what to expect, I get anxious. I like to be prepared.

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. The physical therapist I was assigned to was great. He had a positive attitude and put me at ease from the very beginning for which I’m thankful.

The chlorine did bother my bladder but only a minimal amount. The hardest times were when I went more than once a week. But it was manageable.

By the second day in the pool, I was being led through the paces by the student physical therapist. She also did a good job. As we started chatting through my various appointments, I learned that she is a mom and has three little ones. Her oldest two are close in age to my two. Her youngest is a preschooler.

As she opened up more with me, I learned that she works 40 hours doing her training for physical therapy and then works her regular job for an income on the weekend. On the weekend, she puts in another full 40 hours. Yeah. I’m exhausted just hearing that. Seriously.

I was struck by the two of us side-by-side in the water. We were both there for the same reason as moms: we are determined to make a better life for our families. She wants to have training for a job that will eventually mean she can work better hours for more money. I want to do whatever I can to help my body be able to move easier so I can do more with my family. We are doing different things, but our motivation and determination are the same.

I remember thinking the first day with her that she had a lower energy than the other physical therapist. She was totally fine, engaging and helpful but just a bit less energetic. I figured it was just her personality difference. Once I learned her story, I am just impressed that she is upright. Seriously. Being a mom and working 80 hours, seven days a week is tough! I couldn’t do it. But then again that’s part of why I was there. There are quite a few things I can’t do. My body won’t cooperate.

I don’t know if physical therapy will actually help me. I’m finished with the aquatic sessions. I’m going to keep doing some stretches, but I’ve been discouraged this last week with it. I’m feeling worse rather than better, which is frustrating. However, I’m trying. I’m working at it and doing my best.

Physical therapy may not help me feel better, but that doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying. Because I want better for my family and for myself. I want to not have to worry about how far we are walking somewhere or whether I can both fold laundry and go grocery shopping in the same day. I want to not have as many days that I have to say no to my son when he asks me to push him on the swing after school because my arms or back hurt too much.

And the student physical therapist I worked with is looking forward to graduation in a couple of weeks. She’s excited to earn a better income, work only Monday through Friday and have more time with her kids. Her job won’t be perfect, because nothing is, but she’s moving forward, which is the goal we both have.

Just like pretty much every other mom you know, we are working hard to be the best we can be for our families. Moms are determined to keep going even when it’s challenging because we love our families too much to do it any other way!

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