I have spent a fair amount of time in my life rehabbing from injuries, surgeries and accidents.

The genesis for this post comes from being in physical therapy.

It’s a place where everyone has some kind of a limitation. They limp. They walk with the aid of a cane, crutches or walker. They wear slings and various braces. They are often in pain and know that it’s the kind that they have to work through to get better.

On the positive side, PT is all about them. Every time the physical therapist sees them, they are asked “How are you doing today?” or “How are you coming along?” It’s their time to talk about the latest challenge, struggle and sometimes, even a triumph.

The PTs and PT assistants walk slowly by their side to get across the room and gently encourage them to step to a higher weight or try a new stretch.

There is a lot of touching too – not just the kind that treats the injury, but also the kind that shows support. A pat on the knee or back.  A squeeze of the shoulder.

PT is a healing place where everyone is the same and caring and tolerance are part of the common language.

And then, once the automatic doors open, it’s back out into the world — where PT patients are different. I have witnessed it myself. Impatience with the slow gait. A sales clerk talked to my friend, even though I asked the question. Why? Because I was in a wheelchair after ankle surgery.

It seems safer to be where everyone is the same. Yet, we can’t spend our lives there.

Being together and different is where we are most of the time.

The lesson from my PT experience is to take caring and tolerance with me everywhere I go.


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