‘Ode to my physical therapist’ in Words Dance

ode to my physical therapist on Words Dance

I’ve been writing a lot about the body, chronic pain, and the strange ways pain is invisible but still felt.

Today, Words Dance published one of my new body poems, “Ode to my physical therapist.” They called me a “lovely badass” when they sent the acceptance note — and I’ve never been more gushy. I hope I live up to that title!

I recently finished a several-month round of physical therapy. It was grueling, difficult, and necessary. I gained methods of focusing on my core. I learned that my back and hip muscles were very weak, and how to strengthen them. The poem focuses on a specific technique my PT tried with me, called spinal traction. While my pain is still around (that lingering bastard), the techniques I learned in PT have helped me try to manage it.

For more background on my back pain, you can read about what inspired “Body remembers,” which was published in May in The Fem.

Thanks for reading.

‘Body remembers’ in The Fem

For the past year, I’ve been suffering from intense lower back pain that also causes numbness in my right foot. This pain was different from anything I’ve experienced.

Although I was born with skeletal dysplasia, and have a bad case of scoliosis, my back never bothered me. Until last year. When it hit me hard.

For one week, I was flat on my back, unable to sit or stand because doing so exacerbated my pain. For a while, I felt like I’d be stuck there on my bed for the rest of my life.

I had X-rays, an MRI, several doses of steroids. I’ve seen many doctors who’ve offered me differing opinions — your pain will go away, it will just take time, it’s a long process, your numbness may never go away, you’ll be like this forever. Welcome to the new you.

You’ll be like this forever. Welcome to the new you.

So, of course, I wrote about it. My latest piece about the body, “Body remembers,” was published in The Fem on May 11. It is a history of the mutation of my COL2A1 gene — how my bone disorder affects different parts of my body. And how resilient this particular mutation is — it tries very hard to get passed on to children.

In the poem, I compare this chronic pain to office supplies, like a tangled rubber band ball or sharp paper clips because I first started experiencing it in an office setting. I was trying to place the reader in a swivel chair, seated in front of a computer screen, starting to feel pangs in their own back.

Pain is a full-body experience.

I also explore the worst pain I’ve ever experienced in my life — worse than this ongoing back pain and foot numbness — an ear infection I got after I flew with a cold. This ear infection made me lose my hearing for a good two weeks. And there’s not much you can do to alleviate internal ear pain. You just lay there, feeling as if you’ll never be pain-free again.

Today, I’m not stuck on my bed. I’m working full-time, going to poetry workshops, and marketing my book!

When you’re in the midst of pain, it affects you completely. Pain is a full-body experience that tires people out. Luckily for me, it ebbs and flows. And I’m able to say “take that” in pain’s face and write about it.