Written by Mary Rose Betten
by Mary Rose Betten
Remember tales of people sent into the future to deliver a message back to the rest of us? Well this is your lucky day. Yes friend, you are in the right place at the right time. I am bringing you a glimpse into the future from the urine-scented walls of a care center in Southern California. I am going to print it in capital letters so you receive it full strength in the privacy of your own body.
Picture this: A Physical therapy room. Wood floor, people in wheel chairs placed strategically against the four sides of the room. Got them pictured? Now we are talking reality here so on one side behind the wheelchairs. . . therapists are working on computers. They seem to be therapists typing up reports concerning the work they did with people in the wheel chairs. Occasionally one of them leaves his computer, another therapist takes his seat and they argue who gets to use which computer. While they continue to argue we …wait a second. What the @#$%^&* are therapists doing on computers in a physical therapy room? Yet this scene is exactly what I am experiencing in a state certified care center. This is the way the medical world bills insurance. I just never linked computers and human pain in the same room.
These folks in the wheelchairs aren’t your everyday senior citizens, these folks are in pain. Some loll their heads about, some make sounds too agonizing too describe, most are busy performing their exercises. If this physical therapy room were a scene in a movie you’d hope for classical or soft guitar music but I remind you again, this is reality; in the corner under a couple boxes of Kleenex a radio plays rock and roll and a commercial comes on for Viagra cautioning: “Should you have an erection that lasts more than four hours to call the Smithsonian,” at least I think that’s who they said to call, the medicine ball was bouncing and the lady next to me was moaning.
The therapists work diligently, fastening belts on patients, tossing them balls, adding weights to be lifted. Busy people. I tell myself take in these sounds, feel this mix of desperation and desire, I am alive, not dead, I have a choice. I study the faces of the aged patients. A commercial comes on asking if I own my own home. You bet I do. I realize I never felt so at home in my body. This body I have taken for granted waits for me to return to the outside world with my discovery. I’ve been given a second chance. But without compassion and exercise I won’t make it. I must make a conscious choice. The walls close in on me, I must make a decision. The computer age or the civil war, it has always been about decision. the sound of human misery never changes. I never connected compassion with exercise like I never connected computers with pain but this is 2010 and I want to bring hope out of my full knee replacement surgery. I can learn to change; I am ready to change. In this glimpse of what is possible: I CHOOSE LIFE.