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Physical Therapy, Again


Once my internship ended in August, I started scheduling doctors’ appointments right and left, to make up for two years of putting off everything but the most essential (which still turned out to be a lot). One result of all of these doctors’ visits is that I’m back in physical therapy, again.

I’ve had this pain in my neck and shoulder for three or four months now, and driving, sitting at the computer, and walking all made it worse. I could barely turn my head, but I kept putting off a doctor visit because I knew I wouldn’t have time to do all of the testing and drug taking and exercising she’d expect me to do. And then, just before my internship ended, this strange buzzing started in my left shoulder.

I went for x-rays, I tried Tramadol and a muscle relaxant, which wiped me out and did nothing for the pain, and then I got an appointment with a new physical therapist who came highly recommended. I’ve been through physical therapy so many times before: for my lower back, neck and shoulders, balance, gait, etc. I’ve also gone for acupuncture and chiropractic, cranial sacral, massage, and on and on, so I wasn’t sure how hopeful to be.

The new physical therapist did a long evaluation, with lots of questions, and muscle testing, and range of motion testing. When she had me turn my head to the left I became so nauseous that I had to sit down. She also said that the buzzing in my left shoulder could be coming from pressure on nerve bundles in my neck, because my upper body is so rigid. And she asked if I’ve seen an ENT (ear, nose, and throat doctor) recently. Three years ago seemed pretty recent to me, but she looked skeptical. She gave me three exercises to start with, and a print out in case I forgot the exercises immediately (which I did).

I’m actually fascinated by the weird glitches in my body: the way the nausea kicks in if I move my head too far to the left, or if the physical therapist presses on a certain spot in my upper back; and then the dizziness can be triggered just by a movement of my shoulder!

But I’d like to be able to turn my head while I’m driving, without feeling like I’m going to vomit all over the car. I’d like to be able to do Tai Chi again, or yoga, or just exercise regularly without feeling like my limbs are going to disarticulate. I’d really like to be able to run with the dogs at the dog park without needing a heating pad and a three hour nap in the aftermath.


“Not that the dogs mind napping.”

So, for now, I go to my physical therapy appointments twice a week, and do my at-home exercises, and I worry that I’m going to have to add an appointment with the ENT to my long list of doctor visits coming up, just to be told, one more time, that I’m fine and no one knows why I have all of these symptoms, so it must be in my head.

I’m trying to watch Ellie for inspiration, because she does something new every day, not because she thinks she has to, but just because she discovers new things she can do. She didn’t know these things were possible before, and she didn’t know she would enjoy them so much! She didn’t know how much she’d like massages, and spending time with her humans, and smelling everything in the backyard, and checking in with Cricket. She even tried pickles, because Cricket likes them so much, but she hasn’t discovered a great love there. She’s also discovered that she hates having her hair combed and her teeth brushed, but I think that’s because Cricket has been whispering in her ear.


“They tell you they’re going to comb your hair, but really they’re scooping out your brain. It’s true.”

Miss Ellie has also been creating her own physical therapy plan. She went from needing to be picked up every time she wanted to come up on the couch or the bed, to jumping up (and down and up again) at will. She can stand up on her back legs, for long periods, begging for treats. She even figured out how to jump into the back seat of the car, which she was sure was impossible. And then she does all kinds of stretches, swishing her neck and back every which way to work out the kinks. I’m pretty sure my physical therapist would not approve if I tried to follow Ellie’s plan, especially the swishing around part, but it looks like so much more fun than mine!


“Hi, Mommy!”

Cricket has taken to watching Ellie’s antics with a big sister’s eye roll, as in, Oh my gawd, she is so weird! But I think, secretly, Cricket is getting inspired too.


” No, I’m not.”



About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

70 responses »

  1. So sorry your having these problems. I hope the therapy helps. Hugs to the pups!

  2. ramblingsofaperforatedmind

    Sounds like the furkids are all settled in together, I hate pickles, too, and I hope this physical therapist can help.

  3. The physical therapy can do wonders.

  4. I’ll send Parker and Piper over. Cats just know how to stretch. They interrupt my yoga all the time to tell me I’m doing it wrong…. So sorry for all the problems, Rachel.

  5. I love the last picture and caption. I certainly hope that the therapy will ease things for you. Maybe you could try goat yoga–very popular here! LOL

  6. I have been through so many treatments for my neck and back. I have a serious neck issue from a car accident long ago. I hope you find a treatment that works for you. Enjoy those pups! They’re pretty good medicine too! 😉

  7. Jennifer Barraclough

    I hope you find relief from your health problems soon

  8. I know the “just to be told, one more time, that I’m fine and no one knows why I have all of these symptoms, so it must be in my head.” drill all too well. I imagine your pups help a lot! Ellie seems like a perfect addition to the family.

  9. RELAX, Take 5 DEEP BREATHES AND fall in love! It is a mind thing!

  10. I hope things get better for you Rachel. The second picture here was my favorite — Ellie without her vest! It sounds like she is fitting in so well and is so happy. Let her new lease on life, her willingness to trust, love and be happy again inspire you!

  11. Good luck with the physical therapy. I hope that and these beautiful fur babies bring you joy.

  12. I really hope your pain and loss of function can be reversed with physiotherapy.
    A few years ago I had two frozen shoulders, my physiotherapist was able to get me full range of movement again.

  13. How can you need more therapy with two therapy dogs at home?

  14. I hope your health issues can be easily fixed, or at the least, made less taxing. The dogs must be good therapy, too!

  15. Wishing you a speedy and complete recovery Rachel. There has to be free and smooth movement all the time to keep the muscles and nerves relaxed and ready. Walking with Cricket and Ellie should be a help. And I can well imagine how pleasant it is to watch Ellie learn to enjoy her wonderful new environment. Best wishes.

  16. I think Tramadol should be avoided at all costs. My wife was given some for back pain, and they acted like a sedative, making her sleepy and woozy all the time. They also made her vomit uncontrollably on one occasion, so she stopped taking them.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  17. Three Pups and a Couple of Kitties

    I hope physical therapy helps. It’s frustrating to have symptoms but no answers. I hope that this round of dr. appointments is different and you’ll know what is going on and be given a treatment plan so you’ll soon be feeling good again.

  18. I had a pain in my shoulder and arm like that from January until June! Until I realized it was my keyboard and the layout at work. New layout and better support from my arm and now it’s gone. And all that time I didn’t realize what it was! :O

  19. dear Rachel my heart goes out to you, I suffered many symptoms like you and couldn’t even walk or lift anything as heavy as an iron for some time , came on gradually so as i didn’t really notice then i crashed, I felt despairing at the beginning with so many seemingly unrelated conditions all jumping into my life out the blue, but after 3 years since my crash I am definitely moving out of it and feeling so so much stronger of late, keep positive, it will help heal, be always kind to your soul. I love reading about your adventures and all your lovely photos, love and blessings xx

  20. There’s nothing that your little darlings will do to distract you from your pains.

  21. Sorry for your discomfort Rachel. Let’s hope the exercises and physio help.
    Miss Ellie seems to have settled in very well.

  22. PT always means a commitment of time, and I bet you will follow through, especially with the support of your two TDs. Hoping for the good results you deserve.

  23. I had a cervical fusion years ago and have chronic back problems, so I empathize. Hope all goes well for you! ❤

  24. I’m wondering if she asked about an ENT because problems in the inner ear can cause vertigo and nausea often goes hand in hand with vertigo. At any rate, I do hope you feel better soon.

  25. Some of the best therapy can be your cute pets 🙂

  26. Sounds like a good excuse, er, reason, for a deep tissue massage to me. 🙂 (I love massages and rarely get them.)

  27. I’m a fan of yoga too, although I don’t get to as often as I’d like!

  28. I hope you feel better. I’m starting with an orthopedic doctor. Have you tried a neurologist? It’s not in your head!

  29. When Max would do the rolling on his back and squirming thing, which Maverick now does, to my great delight, we called it “swimming.” I’m so please that Miss Ellie has discovered this joy! I’m sorry you’re in so much pain. If it weren’t for my chiropractor, I’d not be walking – and I have this pinched nerve thing going on that, well, never mind. It’s awful when your body doesn’t cooperate! I hope you find relief!

  30. *HUG* ❤ Hope things get better after the PT! Took ages for my crud to get better but it did improve after the PT and chiropractor visits. Our bodies are so sensitive, it’s crazy and scary x_x


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