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PSA: You are not your pain

If you’re like me, you took a few years of Spanish in high school, and don’t use it at all. One piece I’ve always remembered and think about sometimes is “soy vs estoy.” For those of you who don’t remember or never knew: Soy is the verb used for “I am [something permanent],” such as “I am American.” Estoy is is the verb used for “I am [something transient],” such as “I am tired.”

This is a beautiful and overlooked way of thinking. I would even argue that there is a grayscale for semi-transient things in life such as “I am employed,” or “I don’t have kids.”

How much we identify with a characteristic doesn’t have to be related to the time. Take the sentence “I am a college student.” One knows this is a transient phase of life, but it does last a while and you are totally submersed in the on-campus culture.

Okay Carla, isn’t this about physical therapy?

Yes. In my The-More-You-Know PSA-type of educational blog posts, I want my readers (all 10 of you😉) to understand that you are not your pain. When we say “I am in pain,” our language doesn’t differentiate if this is a permanent or transient state…so the way you think about it has to. Don’t confuse a diagnostic label with a life sentence, especially in the realm of orthopedics. Even if you are like the college student example above. You may be living in it day in, day out for years…but it is powerful and often the first step, to think that it is still a transient state.  #stopthoughtvirus

I once had a patient introduce himself as “Arthur.” As I began to look at the chart to verify as I was fairly certain this was not his name, he continued with his dad joke, “Arthur Itis.” (If you don’t get it, say it out loud). While it was a good ice breaker, this guy’s identity was so ingrained in his diagnostic label, it was no surprise the next thing out of his mouth was, “I’m broken…so probably not much we can do.”

I’ll tell you what I told him: “You are not broken. Everyone has a starting point, we just have to find yours.”

If you would like to find your starting point, call or text 262-244-5895 or e-mail me at carla@oconomowocphysicaltherapy.com

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