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Therapy’s good medicine when taken with a smile

Carrol Vertrees

Carrol Vertrees

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Updated: November 7, 2013 6:23AM



One definition of therapy: Health care primarily concerned with remediation of impairments. That is scholarly and accurate, but it is too prosaic to catch the personal meaning. It needs some word therapy.

In the fine print, I define it as a place where people show that they care — they smile and laugh a lot and don’t use big words like impairment.

I learned that a couple of years ago when this efficient little place near home took me in and helped me discover an impairment I did not know I had.

I went there after a surgeon, with some good help, sawed my chest open and created a couple of bypasses (sounds like highway work, and in a way it was, I reckon.)

I was asleep when they did it and could offer no resistance.

A few days ago I went back for a brief, friendly visit, a memorable experience, especially when it reminded me that I fully flunked my treadmill assignment. I had mentioned this in my Sunday column, trying to joke about it.

But when I popped in for a visit, this friendly therapy lady laughed and said to a doctor who was supervising: “He flunked treadmill!” I am not sure the doctor believed it.

It didn’t matter — she was grinning when she mentioned it, and there were smiles all around, which made me feel at home. I was afraid to ask if the treadmill thing is the only literary gem they remember from the stuff I write.

This efficient little place seemed even busier than it was when I was there two years ago. As it was then, I saw that many people need help in their healing more than I, and as then, the care they were getting seemed to be a natural part of the healing process.

There is, of course, more to healing than medicine and pills, and this place is generous in giving it without a prescription — personal attention with a smile. I remembered how I felt when I went there — nervous, apprehensive, wondering.

Maybe, I have thought, the treadmill fiasco was good medicine, because it loosened up the program. But why don’t those folks just forget that one? Gee whiz, I am sensitive and it embarrasses me. Well, not really.

The real anti-anxiety medicine was in the smiles, all around. I am an old guy and a slow learner, but even I know that it is not just the body that needs attention when impairments come, as they surely will. Our worried minds need help too.

The people who make therapy a personal, caring procedure may never know how they make people like me feel. But we know and we won’t forget.

Every time I face a treadmill in my long life, I think of the friendly people at my therapy place and I laugh. At me. Now, that is really therapeutic.



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