"You're dealing with shapes, I'm dealing with pain"

There’s lady in inpatient rehab who presents very much like a TBI (traumatic brain injury). She has halting speech and she is very loud. Her cries of “I can’t, I can’t” ring through the air as she writhes on the mat. Her therapists basically have to follow her around on the mat, constantly cajoling and trying to help her. They end up in some pretty contorted positions but they’re very patient. She’s like a child in not understanding that the discomfort is necessary to help her get better or at least not get worse (i.e., contractures).
I’ve mostly just heard her say things like “I can’t, I can’t.” “Why are you doing this?!”, as I’m not usually over in inpatient so I haven’t heard her full repertoire, but the other day a friend told me something she said that really resonated with me, I keep thinking about it.
They were trying to have her in quadruped (all fours), placing shapes with one arm or something like that, probably working on a combination of strengthening, balance, cognition, who knows…anyway, my friend informs me she said, in her halting and loud speech,
“I don’t think you understand. You’re dealing with shapes. I’m dealing with pain.”
So maybe you have to see this lady to get the significance, but this woman is very limited in her speech, only able to get the essence of her thoughts out, at best. I thought that was very profound considering the level she was coming from. Also a very good reminder. When we as therapists are trying to get our patients (or clients or consumers lol) to do something to heal, we need to remember our patients are sometimes coming at the experience from a very different perspective. Even when we think we’re on the same page.
Something to keep in mind!
Jan 16, 2010 | Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: 4