Monday, March 8, 2010

Physical Therapy: Not for the self-conscious individual

For those of you who don't know, I've been having issues with my shoulder lately. Something with my rotator cuff and apparently my spine doesn't have a "C" curve... it is straightening and if I don't get it fixed I need surgery... ok Korea... whatever you say.

So I've been visiting the physical therapy. I've been 4 times now and it just keeps getting better. It all starts with me being able to leave my school at 3 in the afternoon, and then hopping into my car and (the first time I went) changing my shirt in the car... because it's up on a hill secluded (I thought), all the students and teachers were in class.. and I don't have a lot of modesty... and it ends with the maintenance man for the school seeing me in my bra.... needless to say that only happened once. Every subsequent visit I have worn the appropriate shirt right off the bat...

Anyway... that's an embarrassing story for another time. I hop in the car fully clothed and staying that way and showing up here.
It's on the first floor. I walk in and the receptionists all freak out that there is a waegookin (foreigner) there. There's giggling, pointing, and staring. It's a treat.

I walk into the physical therapy room and lay down on a heated table. Now... I've never been to a physical therapist in the States but I somehow assume that you are usually in your own room, not in a room with 20 other beds, that on the first day I went were occupied by 20 old men and women staring and pointing at me.

This is my view from my little heated table. On the other side of that couch is the massage table... I'll fill you in on that later. Those three men in the back are the "therapists" although so far one of them has only touched the heating pads that they lay on my shoulder and back, one attaches the suction cups (more on those later), and the other pokes and prods at me. So physical therapist... glorified poker and prodder... your guess is as good as mine.

And sometimes, like today, they do fun things like this and talk about their abs (while lifting their shirt), and doing crunch thingy's while lying on the massage table.

Then ab boy comes over and hooks me up to this guy... some sort of electromagnetic thing. All I know is it pulses my muscle and like constricts it really tight then lets it go... it's an odd although not horrible feeling.

These are the lovely suction cups... they are a treat.

After the suction cup treatment the poker prodder guy has me lay down on the afore mentioned massage table. (And let me say the first time was a lot of guessing games with the language barrier, which just adds to the fun) He then starts pulling on my neck, hard, telling me to relax... kind of hard under the circumstances. He then tells me to lie down with my face down, and then he .... straddles me. Yeah on the massage table in the middle of the room with 20 other people all staring, and talking, about me. And I know it's about me because there is pointing, and I hear the word waegookin repeated numerous times. Talk about feeling self-conscious and awkward, and a million other things. So he's straddling me, pounding on my back, etc. Then I sit up and he shoves his knee in my back and pulls my shoulders back, then wraps his arms around my shoulder and starts twisting it all funky. Seriously I've never had so much fun.

Then he gets out this guy... the iron vibrator. It's this huge iron like thing that intensely vibrates and they move it all over you, or if you are like the ab guy today you leave it on my back for 5 minutes while you flirt with the receptionist...seriously quality work. And while my face is down and staring at the floor, I see the dust layered on the bars of the table, I see the dust bunnies, I see part of a blue straw, and what looks like the cap of a needle... and yes, it's still there a week later. Sanitation isn't high on the Koreans list of things to do.

And when it's all done you have marks that look like this on your shoulder... again what is with me and pulling my shirt off in my car!?
And you have lovely lines like this on your forehead from the massage table. And the look in your eyes says " I have no idea why I keep going back, but somehow I hope they fix my shoulder. But if they don't... at least I have another Crazy Korea story to tell."

The End

Don't ya'll wish you were here experiencing it too??? and please let me know if this is anything like an American physical therapists office I'd love to know... although it make make me feel depressed.


Laura said...

Um. I've only been to the PT once, and that was to shadow one. Let's just say it wasn't much like that. At All. Haha, you sure do have lots of crazy Korea stories from it all, though!!

Justine said...

I can hear your voice as you are telling this story. I laughed so hard I almost cried (or what's the difference with me, right? no one can tell what I am doing anyway once I really get going). It is dreary and very rainy outside and I have a 20 month old who is bored out of his mind, but has a cold so he can't play in the rain. Thank you. This just made my afternoon.