Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.” Luke 8:18 (NIV)
I started physical therapy today. I’ve been having trouble with pain and weakness in my right leg and my balance seems to be getting worse. I’ve been fighting against being labeled disabled so I try really hard not to complain. But, after a review of my health insurance benefits, it didn’t make sense to let an opportunity to seek help go wasted. I get twenty visits with a physical therapist with only minimum copay, so I finally picked up the phone to make an appointment. While it was not easy to find a physical therapist who took my health insurance, I like the one that I finally ended up with. I think I was led to her because the one I had the appointment with was out sick today and I got the substitute. I needed her optimism grounded with reality. I left much encouraged. After a formal evaluation with some tests of my muscle strength and balance that included standing on one foot and then, the other, standing with one foot in front of each other and bending over and reaching for an object, all for different amounts of time as well as flexing and extending my legs and feet, sitting for an extended period of time and other strength, balance and flexibility evaluations, she said, “You are in good shape.” She left off “for a middle aged woman with MS.” My brain filled in that blank. She went on to explain that while some of the muscles in my leg are tight, it is normal for my condition and will be released with stretching exercises. She added that what I thought was a balance problem is not a balance problem at all, but a nerve problem. She said that the “receptors,” the nerves that send signals to my brain to tell the rest of my body what to do aren’t connecting. She gave the example, “You tip forward on your toes and your toes send a signal to your brain that in turn tells your calves, get with it, tighten up and support the body.” But my receptors are either not sending the signal or it is not being received. In other words, there’s a short in the circuit. Yeah, tell me something I don’t know. I’ve always had a short circuit! But, not to fear, there are exercises to teach the receptors to do their job. That’s what we will be tackling over the next few weeks. Her description of what is causing my imbalance made me think of the process of conversation. Sometimes, for whatever reason, I don’t pay attention to what someone is telling me. I miss important pieces of information and then, jump to conclusions, fail to take action or get my feelings hurt. My receptor isn’t working. It is up to me to exercise my listening skills and fully participate in a conversation. Otherwise, it becomes just noise. Then, my relationships get out of balance, and I fall farther than just the floor.