Yesterday – about a month after my hospital consultant said I needed some, following my twin diagnoses of osteoarthritis in the hip and compression of the discs at the bottom on my spine – was the occasion of my first physiotherapy appointment.
Inevitably, my first task was to fill out three administrative forms (clipboard and biro supplied).
These forms were similar to those I had already filled out in January, when I attended the same clinic for my first bout of physio. Rather than point this out and negotiate some sort of compromise, I simply got on with it. I did so because, of course, my medical circumstances might have changed since January and anyway, whenever I have been subjected to medical authority, I instinctively just do as I am bid.
They say that all great comedy writing is based in reality. Yesterday my own performance very much reminded me of Tony Hancock’s iconic episode The Blood Donor, written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, first transmitted on the BBC on 23rd June 1961.
My physiotherapist yesterday was a young lady, which fact no doubt contributed to my immediate adrenalin-fuelled discarding of all restraint and launch into jabbering inconsequential patter, veering between self-depreciating humour and semi-flirtatious bravado.
Faced with the ordeal of seeking medical assessment – often for something which is entirely novel to ourselves – we humans tend to forget that, whatever the ailment and degree of severity we are about to reveal, the professional concerned has probably (both metaphorically and literally) ‘seen it all before’, perhaps innumerable times.
Looking back now, I can see how my 40-minute session yesterday may have seemed twice that length to my therapist.
At the time, of course, I thought I was doing rather well in terms of our bonding, as she listened dutifully to my chat about my extended family and medical history, my upcoming holiday and finally England’s recent triumph in the Women’s Rugby World Cup. When she asked me to disrobe from the waist down, the better to assess my issues – and I cringe as I type this – I even made a quip about the stereotypical awfulness of the sight of old men wearing lycra shorts (a pair of which I had donned for the purpose).
All that said, I emerged yesterday with a printed list of five different exercises, complete with diagrams, that I must undertake twice a day in a scheme designed to improve my general bodily flexibility, which is apparently poor.
I feel elated and filled with positivity about the prospect. It’s the great thing about visiting any branch of medical profession. You go in with a problem, not quite knowing what the diagnosis is and how it can be dealt with … and, most often, you come out with the news that the problem isn’t terminal and the impression that – if you carry out the recommended treatment with diligence – your symptoms will certainly be improved, if not entirely eradicated.
I shall be returning for a further assessment in another four to six weeks.
For those who might enjoy it, I include below a link to a video of the full 30-minute Tony Hancock episode of The Blood Donor, as featured on YouTube. I would commend to National Rust readers at least a viewing of the opening scene, in which Hancock arrives at the surgery desk manned (if that is the right word, given that she is playing a nurse) by a youthful June Whitfield. My performance at the clinic yesterday brought to mind the words of Galton and Simpson, as performed so brilliantly by Tony Hancock here.
[Those with the spare time and inclination can watch the entire episode if they wish.]
See here – THE BLOOD DONOR