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04-16-14-physical-therapy.gifI was so close to becoming a human vegetable that my wife was planning ways to serve me up as a side dish. She will tell you, even now, that I had become rooted to my recline.

rI couldn’t argue her point. Pain in my shoulders from shredded rotator cuffs and tendons had virtually ended my long-time love affair with golf and, when I retired for a second time in May of 2013, I pretty much quit moving. I used the DVR to record shows and movies and spent most of the day watching television, reading or working crossword puzzles. I would go to bed around midnight, get up between 9 and 10 a.m. and begin the cycle all over again.

I became noticeably weaker, began suffering bouts of feeling light-headed and took on the traits of an elderly semi-invalid. I shuffled my feet, walked with my head down and without moving my arms. Putting on a pair of pants was a daunting task and, by the time I had struggled to get my socks and shoes on, I was pretty much exhausted. Just going out to dinner became something I dreaded.

That’s when a friend intervened. He had suffered his own share of physical problems, including a hip replacement, and he suggested I pay a visit to a physical therapist where he was receiving treatment.

I was reluctant at first. I had been to physical therapists before for the shoulder problem and a knee replacement. Those sessions had helped greatly at the time but that had been a few years ago when I was younger, stronger and spent a lot less time in the recliner. So this was different. How do you rejuvenate a vegetable?

Well, the first thing these therapists did was to make me feel like a human being again. They greeted me with smiles, made me feel they had a real interest in my well-being and that perhaps I might even be able to improve enough to play golf again. They worked on my balance, taught me how to hold my head up when I walked and put me through a series of strengthening exercises.

Their patience with my stumbling and fumbling was incredible. They led me through a series of exercise routines and showed me how to help myself. They even forgave me on the days I forgot to wear my hearing aids and they were forced to virtually shout the instructions in my ears.

Despite my original Doubting Thomas attitude, they won me over. After a few sessions, I could tell a difference. I was moving quicker and walking up steps without having to hold on to something. The recliner got less use and the wife took me off the vegetable menu.

One thing I had to learn was to do some of the exercises at home between sessions. The therapists can help you through the exercises during a scheduled session, but they’re like school teachers in that if you don’t do your homework you’re going to fail some tests.

I still slack off on some of the homework, but I’m trying and it’s paying dividends. The dizziness has virtually disappeared and I’m walking with firmer steps and with my head up. Hey, it’s been days now since I stumbled into someone.

I’m nowhere near being in the shape I’d like to be, but I do see progress. And as long as those therapists keep smiling and telling me how proud they are of that progress, I’m going to keep keeping on.

In fact, I’ve already started chipping and putting again. Can a drive be too far in the future?

Photo: Staying active is an important part of being healthy.

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