Today, I received the welcoming letter to the program. The names, of course, have been changed to protect the identity of the program.
Here’s the letter and my notes in bold:
Welcome to Dr. B’s Spinal Rehabilitation Program. You have been selected to begin the full-day program on Monday, February 11, 2013. Please arrive promptly at 8:00 a.m. to the Spinal Rehabilitation Program at undisclosed location. You will receive your weekly schedule and materials upon arrival. The program is scheduled Monday through Friday from 8:00a.m. to 4:30p.m. for four weeks, depending on your progress. (Of course as I read this I can imagine being extended either for exemplary progress or failure to progress—either way, anyone who has ever been treated by me would expect that I would be extended so that I can extend the “platform of recovery on which I stand.”)
As a pain management program, our goals are to help you improve your ability to function in daily life with better pain management, return to work and/or recreational activities, enhance self-management techniques, and achieve maximum medical improvement for your diagnosis. (Mental peace, physical well-being, and personal productivity! Yeah, I can relate and I am really excited at this point. I haven’t allowed myself to hope for a long time—the downside of that is devastating and I have preferred to maintain the status quo, but the status quo is not working for me anymore. I have had pain every day but six for the last 21 years but, as my friend Mel Pohl, MD (Las Vegas Recovery) notes, I have gone from pain to suffering. And for the last year, since December 6, 2011 following an extended car ride, I have been suffering. I need to change that. Pain alone has not been enough to motivate me but suffering is taking its toll.) Your program will include physical therapy, occupational therapy, therapeutic recreation, psychological services, nursing education, relaxation training, vocational rehabilitation and medical management (Clinically luxurious!).
During your participation in the program, your family/friends will have an opportunity to learn about your treatment program and help you continue your pain management strategies after discharge. Family/friends meetings are generally held on Wednesdays at 4:30pm during the second and third weeks of the program (Of course, not right away. It will get worse before it gets better, I am told. That is what I tell my patients with alcoholism and other chemical dependencies). We strongly encourage you and your family or a close friend to attend one of these sessions. If you have questions regarding the family/friends meeting, please speak with your Spinal Rehabilitation Program psychologist (Family and friends need their own program of recovery. They may have lost hope, too. They have had to manage their expectations. What happens to them when I change?).
You will be physically active during your participation in the program. You will need to wear comfortable clothes and supportive shoes (i.e. sweats, shorts, T-shirts, gym shoes). In order to fully participate in Physical Therapy groups, you will have to independently walk one block to our fitness facility at another undisclosed location. You will also need a swimming suit, or other appropriate attire, and your own combination lock. You may have periods of free time during your participation in the program. These open periods are times to complete assigned reading, perform therapy exercise/gym programs and practice relaxation/biofeedback techniques (Sounds like I will have restricted access to my phone, at least for the first week. I wonder what that will feel like?).
Dr. B’s Spinal Rehabilitation Program
It is my hope that my writing about the experience will help others who might consider making such an investment in themselves but are paralyzed by fear; I sincerely hope that I will be able to overcome that fear and help others do so as well. I also hope that I am helped—I want to hope again and just for today I will allow myself the luxury of that.