A random photo on the web that I found. This shows pretty much
what the cervical traction device looks like in physical therapy.
I headed to this mornings formation in ACUs. When all appointments form up at the back, I tell the NCO that I have an NCM appointment (technically I'm not lying, I just don't have an actual appointment at 0830 or before…mine is at 0900). I have no desire anymore to do anything at all with the army. The army PT is just a waste of time and the entire time I'm doing it, all I do is get pissed off. It's better for my well being to just get away as fast as possible.
I head to my car and eat breakfast then take a nap. At about 0830 I head into the SFAC to check my army email, but the room is full…I just head up to my NCM appointment a little early. The weekly NCM appointments are just to make sure everything is moving along smoothly and I don't need anything like refills or extra appointments made. I've mentioned before that the NCM is my central point of contact during the medboard process. The NCM makes all my appointments and lets me know if I have any new ones coming up. My NCM sees that I've been referred for physical therapy and makes a call while I'm there. They make an appointment for next week…I take off.
I head back downstairs and check my army email at the SFAC. A few minutes later I get a call from my NCM telling me that physical therapy called back and changed my appointment to today at 1345. This pisses me off quite a bit. I didn't pack a lunch, I had plans to head home eat lunch and do my schoolwork. I have to take the appointment, so I get to sit around and twiddle my freaking thumbs until 1345 this afternoon.
After my head cools a little I call my friend who happens to live about 10 minutes away from Ft. Lewis. We meet up for lunch and then hang out in a coffee shop for a while just chatting and passing the time. This worked out perfect, we got to catch up and I wasn't bored out of my mind while waiting for my newly scheduled appointment.
I headed to the physical therapy appointment with pretty low expectations. I had several weeks of physical therapy while in Germany and it didn't help much at all. When I arrived and was called back, my therapist asked a bunch of questions and to my surprise he has already done a check over my medical records and even took a look at my MRI. He performs a few tests such as having my arms in various positions and resisting as he pushes or pulls on them. There was one that he did twice which had both my elbows to my side with my arms out in front of me. He pushed down on my left arm and I resisted, but when he pushed on my right arm it went down fairly quickly. In my head I though he was just using more force. He asked if I was right handed (yes) and did the same test again with the same results.
He then has me lay down and place my neck in a device they use for something called "traction". As I lay down and place my head in a cradle, the therapist straps my head in place and tells me to relax. The device slowly starts to stretch my neck, slowly moving my head away from my shoulders. It didn't seem to stretch a lot, but it was definitely noticeable. After a few minutes he unstraps my head and has me stand up. We then perform the same test with my right arm, this time I am able to resist his push downwards. This was a total surprise to me, in fact it seemed like a magic trick. He assured me that he was using the same force every time he tried to push my arm down. He said it seems there is some compression in my neck, and this traction device will help relieve the compression. This is the first physical evidence I've seen involving my pain in neck and head. Usually all I can do is describe the pain all the time, but now I see that it's actually affecting me physically as well.
The therapist then puts me on a schedule for traction twice a week for 3 weeks. He says if it helps with the pain as well, he will recommend a portable unit for me to use. I actually feel optimistic again…maybe I can do something to actually reduce the pain I'm feeling on a daily basis. When I go up to the front desk to schedule the remaining appointments I find out I can only do it on Tuesdays and Thursdays…looks like I have to change the days I'm doing the internship, at least temporarily.
I head home excited with the news and the possibilities. I labor through my schoolwork which is pretty tough. The class I'm taking is business law. All the reading is pretty dry and I have no real interest in the class other than just getting through it. Every day with this class is going to be tough just to get through!
On a side note I see that I've now been at Ft. Lewis for 100 days now. I've done everything I can do, now it's just a waiting game to see how long it will take to get my percentage results from the VA. On one hand I want to get them and get out as soon as possible, but on the other hand I'd like to finish school before I get out. I guess we'll see which comes first.