In the morning I start by going down to an area called ‘balneo’ where I get a warm pack on my neck at the start of each session (to warm up the muscles) and an ice pack on my shoulder at the end of each session (to reduce inflammation).
The area is completely unimaginatively laid out, with chairs round to the wall just like in a dentist’s waiting room. The centre of the room is dominated by a huge bath where young people with sports injuries sit for ten minutes in icy water! Nevertheless this is unimportant centre of social activity. It is where those receiving shoulder and knee treatment meet each other each other four times a day, 20 minutes a session, so a total of 80 minutes daily.
After ‘le chaud’, I spend 20 minutes with my physio in a large, well equipped gym, surrounded by other patient/physio couples. (There is a second gym area I’ve never been in, exclusively for the sports injuries.) My kiné, Lucie, is a young woman whom I did not take to at first, but I’m warming to her. She takes off my thoraco and, supporting my arm, performs a series of gentle stretching movement to get the new joint moving. For the time being absolutely no demands are made on the tendons, damaged by the operation. I have to concentrate on letting Lucie make all the movements and on relaxing my tensed up shoulder. Lucie also massages the muscles round my neck, which are very knotted or ‘tendus’.
Then I spend 20 minutes on a machine which gently raises and lowers my stretched out left arm. As time progresses the machine will be set to raise the arm higher and higher.
I finish with the 20 minutes of ice pack.
The afternoon session follows more or less the same routine, except instead of seeing the kiné Lucie, I’m with Brigitte, an ergothérapeute. The movements are similar but I think the sessions are supposed to be more focussed on developing the movements one needs in daily life. Brigitte is older than Lucie and exudes an air of reassuring authority.