No Pain, No Gain

No pain, no gain! I’ve heard this expression my whole life. I’m sure most of us have heard this expression our whole lives. Or, well … I’m sure most people who are my age have heard it. I’m not sure if anyone still says it now. But I grew up hearing it. And hating it. I’ve had coaches yell it at me during PE and extracurricular sports activities. I’ve had band directors shout it through a megaphone as an entire band grunts and groans through marching practice. I’ve had my parents say it to me about a thousand-million-gazillion times. (Is that even a number? I don’t know, but it should be.) It is one of THOSE phrases. You know, the ones that can inspire a person to murder and mayhem because they are just that darn annoying and trite.

(Side note: “A minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips” is another one for me. My mom loved trotting that one out constantly. If she saw me eating anything remotely fun and flavorful and bad for me, I would hear this little piece of anger-inducing wisdom. If I even looked at whole milk growing up, I would hear it. Ditto with cheese. Yadda, yadda, yadda. You get the idea. A good part of my childhood and pretty much all of my teenage years have this saying playing in the background on a continuous loop. It’s a wonder I never punched anyone in the face. But I digress …)

I am entering my second week of PT, and this will be my first week of going the whole week, for three sessions. I always thought PT stood for “physical therapy”, but I’ve begun to realize it actually stands for “physical torture”. Because, oh my googly gosh … I feel I understand that “no pain, no gain” saying. For the first time in my life, I GET IT. In the most excruciating detail possible. Because there is pain. There is so much freaking pain. I feel like I’m about a million and five years old right now, and it’s not a happy thing.


What’s crazy is that I went into PT after our car accident, but I was in relatively good shape. Or, at least, I thought I was. I was very active before the accident. I worked out for about an hour or so three to five times a week, usually clocking in at least 4.5 miles each session. I’m not much of a runner, but I walk very swiftly. I thought that, other than whatever soft tissue damage happened in the car accident, along with the accompanying knee, back, and hip pain, I didn’t have any major problems. Well, scratch that. I’ve always had trouble with my right hip. I’ve had bursitis in it since I was around nine years old. It flares up at times, but it’s never been a constant in my life.

Unbeknownst to me, my body has been automatically adjusting and compensating for my bum hip my whole life. I didn’t even realize it, but everything on my right side has become weaker and weaker over the years, while my left side has become stronger and stronger. I was completely unbalanced! (In so many ways.) Here I was, bebopping along in my life and thinking everything was great, when it really wasn’t. And hasn’t been for quite a long time. In a way, I think I was lucky to be in the car accident. Not that I love having the knee pain, back pain, extra hip pain, and injuries that came along with it, but, without the accident, I never would have gone into PT at this point in my life. I never would have realized how much my body was compensating. I would have, likely, ended up in my sixties or seventies, suddenly being unable to move freely or perform everyday tasks.

So now, I’m trying to relearn how to do a lot of things. I’m trying to wake up muscles that have become a bit lazy. I’m trying to teach my right hip to move and work properly. She doesn’t like it, by the way. She’s a bit of a diva. I’ve become acquainted with the evil of the Lacrosse Ball on a painfully intimate level as I try to loosen up muscles and tissues that are all stiff and grumpy. It’s not a bad pain. I mean, at the time it’s happening to me … Yes, very bad pain. And I feel very grumpy about it. But, once I leave therapy, the pain feels like a good thing. No pain, no gain. It makes sense to me now.

And yet, I can’t help thinking I like my daughter’s saying much better as a touchstone for my life. She always tells me, “Mama, you’ve gotta push through — like a bulldozer!”


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