I recently went to my first therapy appointment for my leg. I had a tumour removed in April, 2012 but because I didn’t have a job or benefits at the time, I wasn’t able to go for the needed therapy to help with the mobility and swelling. I bought my own benefits plan when I could afford it so that I could get the much needed treatment for my leg. It was a great first session and I could already feel a difference in my leg after the first hour.
While I had been eagerly anticipating the therapy for quite some time, I was very surprised by my emotional response during the session. It was something that I hadn’t expected. I cried uncontrollably for at least half the session. I was shocked and embarrassed by my reaction. After all, why was I crying? I have been wanting this therapy for a long time, was excited to finally be going, and yet here I was, extremely emotional and openly unable to stop sobbing.
I tried, at first to hide my tears. I felt embarrassed and didn’t want the therapist to see my steady flow. But finally, no longer able to hide the emotional outpouring, I asked my therapist, Lisa, if others cried during their appointment.
“Yes”, she replied without hesitation or thought. According to Lisa, most people, on their first visit would show anger at first, and then eventually, tears.
“It’s a very emotional process that most people don’t understand”, Lisa informed me. Suddenly, with the force of a volcanic eruption, I blurted out: “I want my leg back!” The outburst both shocked and liberated me all at once. I never realized just how much of a toll the entire pre operation, operation and post operation journey had taken on me until this moment.
When Lisa asked what I missed not doing, the answer was easy: bike riding with my son. We used to bike ride every day before my surgery but haven’t been able to go for the past two summers. That’s been very difficult for me. Walking with ease, bending down, crouching. I missed just being able to go out and do something physical without limits or thought. Even something like stair climbing was challenging. I missed the freedom of having 2 healthy legs that we often take far too for granted.
I have to say, I’ve never, at any time, felt anger during this journey. Even when they first found the tumour and believed it was cancer, anger was just not an emotion that I had. “It is what it is” I would say. I actually felt like one of the lucky ones. I knew right from the beginning that the tumour was not terminal and that my life was never in danger.
Once the tumour was removed and they were able to clearly determine that it was benign, I felt grateful. It should have been, for all intents and purposes, malignantly. The fact the it wasn’t has been a medical miracle.
But the recovery has been longer and more difficult than I could have ever expected. I thought, because the surgery went so unexpectedly well, that I would be back to my normal self within a couple of months. That hasn’t been the case. The healing has taken a long time and my mobility and usage of my leg has been very limited. I am no longer able to move the way I used to or for as long as I used to. My leg fatigues and gets sore very easy and while I push myself, that too, can have significant consequences. I never realized just how much this would affect me emotionally until recently. But here I was, a year and a half later, crying uncontrollable over the loss of use in my leg as a result of the removal of the tumour. I have learned first hand, just how traumatizing certain events in our lives can really be.
Since that first visit, I have felt so much better, not just physically, but emotionally as well. It felt wonderful letting these emotions out. As I anticipate the upcoming appointments and treatments, I know that there will be more moments where my emotions overcome me. But I’m looking forward to releasing them. This therapy is not only allowing me to heal physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. And both, are long overdue!