The physiotherapy office smells like Lysol and disappointment. The brand of hand sanitizer they require you to use burns your hands, as well as, your nostrils (even through my mask). I should be used to this by now, after a nine months of sanitizing my hands every minute of every day but I’m not.
The room that my mom and I sit in needs a paint job. The owners of the building opted for a greyish-blue rather than the usual beige or off-white that I’ve seen in other offices. It’s both interesting and off-putting. There are marks all over the walls and the baseboards are screaming to be dusted.
Thankfully it’s not long until we’re escorted to the back of the building. There is a bed for my mom to lay down on and a few very-well used pieces of equipment surrounding her. There’s also several fold up chairs and make-shift desks sitting against the walls.
They’ve asked my mom to try a new exercise. She’s given a long strap, kind of like a seatbelt. She places her foot in the middle and holds both sides of the strap, straightens her legs and pulls it up. Her legs flies up and I feel and intense amount of pride for the woman who not only carried three and birthed three children, but was limping around the house mere days ago from her knee-replacement surgery.
The physiotherapist is not as impressed as I am with my mom’s straight leg and speed. She asks her to slow down, a lot. You need to feel the muscles and you can’t feel them if you move too quickly. Mom deflates a bit but obeys, lifting her leg as high as she can and as slowly as she can. The physiotherapist asks for two sets of ten. Slowly, she repeats.
The first two are easy peasy lemony squeezy. The next 18 reps bring tears to her eyes. She grips the strap so hard that her hands turn white. Her leg shakes from the stress. Her breathing becomes heavy and laboured (the mask is not making things easier) but she pushes through – she always does. I grab her hand as she lets go of the strap, Great job, Mama!
After her appointment we stop at Tim Horton’s for our usual – two-medium-French-Vanillas-please. We do this after every appointment, it’s become a little tradition and one that I look forward to every week. On the drive home we sip our overly-sweet coffees and talk about nothing. I turn up the music as Mom rolls down her window and sparks up a cigarette. It’s a warm November day and my heart is full of gratitude and hope.