Goodness Gracious! I have always believed in the effectiveness of physical therapy and thought that not enough people got it. I had no idea how helpful it would be for me.
I had my first session last week and right away, I felt better. Way less pain. Way more range of motion and flexibility. Way more information. Lots of wise guidance.
Physical therapy is more than just a description of exercises to do at home. And it's more than the exercises and movements you do with the therapist.
My therapist did several things with her hands on my body--cause it's body work after all. My skin is a little numb and I can't see my chest and armpits easily while lying down, so I don't quite know what she did. But there was some gentle stretching of my skin, I think, and she moved my arms while she applied gentle pressure to my lower ribs while she coached me in breathing and POOF! A lot of resistance went away and I could suddenly move my arms further. There was some emotional release as well, cause I have felt lighter and less restricted emotionally since.
I am really glad that I ASKED to see a physical therapist BEFORE surgery. Like my first visit with her was before the surgery. She reassured me about how manageable lymphedema can be and measured my arms to have a baseline and to be able to fit me for compression sleeves, in anticipation of treating any lymphatic congestion early. She also informed me about things I can do to prevent lymphedema and to treat it early if it happens. So. Very. Helpful.
This most recent visit was also in anticipation of Radiation Therapy. She helped me to understand that this is no time to do strength training for my upper body since my upper body will be doing enough to integrate this treatment.
So here's a shout out to all the physical therapists out there. The system doesn't appreciate you nearly enough, and I haven't either. The rest of us should get therapy for any surgery and for most injuries (if you can) and encourage our friends and families to do the same.