Tuesday, July 18, 2006

When the Therapist's Away, the Dog Won't Play

My beloved therapist Steve is away for the week. Considering the guy sees at least three patients a day for chest physiotherapy on top of a full-time job, he deserves way more than a week's vacation. Selfishly, though, I am glad he never leaves Boston for too long.

Anyway, I can (and will) write at length about my unique relationship with Steve--besides my husband, no one sees me more regularly and no one has that much pysical contact with me--but today what's on my mind is the state of affairs when he's gone.

I recently purchased a contraption called The Vest. I always feel like there should be some segue into that, like Dum Dum Dum..THE VEST. It's an interesting (bizarre) contraption consisting of a generator that forces air into two tubes that attach to a vest that I buckle myself into snugly. When I rev up the frequency and speed, the air fills up the vest (I inflate like the Marshmallow Man) and vibrates rapidly, theoretically shaking the lobes of my lungs and loosening mucus that gets trapped there because of my PCD and bronchiectasis.

And it does--but it rattles everything else, too. It makes my arms and legs jiggle with every passing second (no amount of gym-going would protect me from this ugly scene), and when I try to speak, I sound warbled and almost like I am sitting on top of a washing machine moving at jet-engine speed.`

I don't know about any of you out there, but I find The Vest effective. Not nearly as good as the sturdy clapping Steve gives me, but it makes me cough often enough to feel like it's working at least somewhat. And failing everything else, it's a great party trick. I can't tell you how many friends of mine think it's really cool...until I strap them in and they realize it's actually not that cool to feel like the breath is getting squeezed out of you. They say it hurts, but by this point, I just find it uncomfortable.

The real issue with The Vest is that is it loud. LOUD. And my dog Sasha is a complete basketcase when it comes to sound. Seriously. She knocked over pans in the kitchen and went on a two-week hunger strike just to avoid being anywhere near the pans again. It was so bad we took her to the vet, who diagnosed her with doggie PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and told us to put flower essence into her water to calm her down.

So, put a loud and potentially scary machine in the same tiny living room of my condo, and it's a bad day in Sasha's world. When it's turned off, she slinks by it, giving it dirty looks. When it's on, she dashes out of the room and cowers into the bedroom. After that, it takes her a few hours to even come near me again, and even then she somehow manages to give me a withering look.

Steve, come back home! As much as I miss you, Sasha misses you even more!

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