Today's article was written by my husband Mike for our Empowered Fitness bi-weekly newsletter but I wanted to make this avaible here as well. It's about injuries and how his current personal experiences have had a surprising impact on him. Can you relate? Read it and think about how YOU might be able to change your perspective.
Pain is a Wakeup Call
I found out about 6 months ago that I have arthritis in my left hip that has been steadily getting worse. It tends to be uncomfortable most of the time now, causes me to walk with a slight limp (if you look closely enough), and sometimes even wakes me up at night. As a heads-up, when the orthopedic specialist looks at your hip x-ray and the first thing he does is grimace and go "Oooooh", you can be sure that it's not going to be good news. My path forward is basically trying to stave off the inevitable as long as possible until a hip replacement becomes necessary.
I'm also having knee surgery on May 9th. I have a torn meniscus in my right knee and it's been limiting what I can do for about 3 months now. It's an ever-present dull ache in my knee that sometimes rears it's head as sharp pain if I'm not careful. I'm not looking forward to the surgery, even though it's a relatively minor arthroscopic procedure...I don't want the pain I'm sure I'll have to endure after the procedure nor do I want to lose the time that I'll be rehabilitating it back to health.
Ok, enough feeling sorry for myself. Now what am I going to do about my situation? What can I do? Well, it turns out there's quite a bit....not only to do, but also to learn.
Lessons For Life
First, I'm working out as rigorously (and safely) as I can while I can. My body may not be able to do what it could in my twenties, but I'm still strong and relatively healthy (aside from the aforementioned issues) and I want to keep myself that way. I know that being in shape before the surgery will be a huge boost to actually recovering more quickly. And strengthening the muscles around my hip will help keep proper alignment and slow the deterioration of the joint. Sure, I can't run, hop, skip, jump rope, or do anything that causes impact to my knee or hip. But I CAN do a whole bunch of strength work that doesn't involve my legs. I found that I can do squats if I'm not too overzealous. And most recently I found that I can run up and down stairs if I'm careful with my foot placement and pace.
The point is that while I have a couple of injuries that limit quite a bit of what I can do, I'm not letting it keep me on the sidelines. I'm figuring out what I CAN do given my situation and making sure that I'm staying engaged, active, and "owning my workout" as Diana likes to say.
Second, I've found these injuries are really forcing me to ask myself what is important in life? I've taken my body for granted so many years leading up to this point that it's a bit shocking being forced into a realization that it's not going to be there for me forever. It's made me dive deep into what my purpose is and how I fit into the world. It brings your family, your day-to-day motivations, and your long-term thinking to a different level. I'm not traditionally religious but I do reach out for the strength to get past my own limitations and pain, to not feel sorry for myself, and to focus on what I can do to make the world a slightly better place than it was yesterday and how I can focus more on giving of myself and not worrying about what I'm getting. Goodness knows things could be much worse and in many cases IS much worse for others, so it just doesn't make sense to dwell on my own small problems.
The Bottom Line
Injuries are no fun and I don't wish them on anyone. But the fact is, they happen. Some are worse than others but at the end of the day, our bodies will suffer the indignity of incapacity in some way or another and we're going to have to deal with it. The lesson I'm learning is to try and use these challenges and trials as a way to actually grow and become better. Look beyond what you can't do and figure out what you can. Don't dwell on your own perceived limitations but try and focus on being present for others. I'm not perfect at this, nor probably even good at it. But I do see the opportunity that's being laid out before me, as scary as it is, and I'm going to be doing my best to take advantage of it. I truly hope that any personal challenges or obstacles you may be facing (or will face) can be used as a driver of growth and enlightenment for you as well.