That’s quite a rack, ma’am

Physical therapy in its earliest form?

The rack is commonly considered the most painful form of medieval torture.  It  was used to stretch human appendages far beyond their normal capacities.  Of course, it’s common knowledge that medieval torture evolved into the procedure that modern-day man now calls….. Physical Therapy.

Having undergone a partial-knee replacement last Thursday, I was now required to attend Physical Therapy.   My first visit was quite serene and educational.   Various stretching exercises took place.   A printout of at-home exercises for me to do on my own was given and I was treated with respect and dignity.   I returned home feeling quite competent and ready to practice my new exercises and thusly impress my therapist when I returned for the next session.

Session #2 began in the same manner.   I stretched and pulled and created a mild amount of discomfort for myself but again was treated with respect and dignity.  The technicians chatted and conversed and told me what a great job I was doing.  Keep up the good work, they said with a sweet smile.

Then,  they took me to the room with “The Rack”.   Ok maybe it wasn’t the rack… it looked more like just a flat therapy table with a sheet and pillow and institutional green upholstery.  I positioned myself on the table as requested and did a few more stretches.   Then my PT said these three words…  “Are you ready?”  

Well, of course I was ready.  Physical Therapy was sweet and wonderful and would lead me on the path to full recovery and doing the things I wanted to do again with my knee.  I gave him a nod and returned the sweet smile he had just sent to me.  “Bend your knee as much as you possibly can, “ he said. “ Good job!  Now can you go a little bit further?” (I could, but it was beginning to hurt).

Then he did the unspeakable. (Unspeakable because from that moment on, there were no words coming out of my mouth… just garbled sounds and screams)  He grabbed my lower leg and pushed with all his might and started counting backwards from 10.   My eyes closed, I grabbed the sides of the table and tried to escape.

“Ok … again!”  he said.  He pushed even further, I grabbed even harder and saw little floatie things above my head.  The countdown again.  Then he said, “Third time’s a charm!” and he did it again… even further this time.   My eyes darted around the room for a means of escape.  The window was sealed, the door was shut… probably locked.  There was no way out.

One more time?

As my PT continued to hold my knee in the furthest position and measure the angle of bend, he said, “Would you like to go one more?”

“Are you freakin’ kidding me!” No thank you, ”  I feebly responded although I am not sure he could hear me…. I quickly shook my head NO!

My knee was then wrapped in a heavenly ice bag of gargantuan proportions and I sat back and relaxed. The torture was over for now.

The good news….. the angle of bend in my knee was better than most victims  patients experience.  I have thrown away my walker and use just the cane!

The bad news…... I now know what to expect when I return on Friday…


About Life in the 50's and beyond...

Welcome to Life in the 50's and 60's and beyond .... where I write about my childhood memories, music of the 60's and about life in the country. I am a mother, grandmother, farmer's wife, business owner, and retired teacher.
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21 Responses to That’s quite a rack, ma’am

  1. Teresa Cleveland Wendel says:

    Having endured knee surgery, you have my sympathy. I would always tell my PT, “So what tortures do you have planned for me today?”


  2. Pingback: Holiday Humor Contest: 1st Place | The Green Study

  3. That sounds brutal. Who’s your PT: Josef Mengele?


  4. A gripping life says:

    Haha! physical therapy sounds like real luxury and pampering until you actually do it. It can be brutal. Hope you mend quickly!!


  5. Ouch… Let’s hope Friday’s torture errr, treatment is not quite as ruthless…! 😉


  6. Oh Ruth torture is right! And they still call it therapy?
    How awesome to hear that you have such good range of motion! That is huge, You have less distance to go then to get where you need to be. Just make sure your PT does not raise the bars on you.

    I hope you are healing rapidly and having less painful days.

    The Torture Clinic and one experience; II have spent the best part of the last 29 yrs in and out of PT. My last trip on the gang plant involved a manual cervical traction device. It even has a big cast iron spin wheel on it to tighten or lessen the traction. The first and ONLY time I was strapped on to by my neck (read cervical) and head,, and then it was wound back. it felt fine for the 10 seconds it took before my PT decided it was time for his cup of coffee, or something, leaving me alone attached to The Monster. In the end (3 minutes into it) it was hurting so much I had resorted to screaming for someone, anyone to come get the thing off me. Horror dreams have been mine since.

    Needless to say I filed a complaint and then found myself another clinic and have never allowed myself to be attached to anything like that again. People sometime just do not think!

    This “No Pain No Pain is nonsense~


    • Oh how horrible for you….You were right to file a complaint and look elsewhere for help. 3 minutes is a lifetime when you are in therapy! Heck… 30 seconds can be a lifetime.
      I should add that my PT was not really Attila the Hun! He is doing his job correctly I think and just has to push to get results. Thanks for sharing your experience.


  7. I had no idea physical therapy was that bad. Keep your cane by your side and whack him on the back when he pushes too hard. Crikey! … Glad things went well, though, and hope you are pain free soon.


  8. grandmalin says:

    Yikes – next time kick him with your good leg! Seriously, I do hope it gets easier every time and you’re up and running again soon. xxoo


  9. Karen says:

    I have heard the ‘horror’ stories about physical therapy. Yes, they are all such nice people but seem to have no qualms about the extensive pain they so easily administer. I think they all love the ‘no pain, no gain’ philosophy which I do take issue with. I think to be a truly dedicated physical therapist (with deep sensitivity), they should hook themselves up to a pain machine and will feel something similar to what their patient feels. Whoa! I bet that might change the routine a bit! 🙂 I have images of you running and jumping soon! Prayers are with you!


  10. I was there last year at this time, for a monster ankle fracture. I can honestly say I feel your pain–and yeah, the setup is brutal! Hope you heal fast!


  11. You didn’t hurt after you left???..sounds awful…but, I hear it’s the way to getting back in shape…Hang in there!


  12. Caddo Veil says:

    Oh RUTH!! I could feel the pain from here, and am doing some silent screaming with you!! But, like me, you use humor as a buffer–and I so celebrate that, and your “can do” spirit! I’ve had knee issues all my life, and can’t imagine any worse pain with the exception of UTI’s–arrgghh. I’m keeping you in my prayers, sending warm hugs to go with the ice packs–balance, you know. God bless you big–love, Caddo


  13. Good grief, it sounds awful! So glad to hear that your recovery is on the upward road, though. Hang in there!


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