It is easy to spot a body builder in the gym and recognize the hours and commitment that it took to build their body, but strength, can be found in many ways. While some are more obvious, inner strengths may lie hidden in obscurity, rising when you did not even know it was there, pushing you through your darkest days.
I was reminded today of one of my dark days with a gentle text from my mother this morning, reminding me of how far I have come.
4 Years ago today, I underwent an excruciating surgery to repair a shattered heal suffered after a climbing accident. That single fall would change my life as I knew it.
I remember sitting in the surgeon’s office as he viewed the images of my shattered bone.
“We’ll, I have seen worse” He had said… I tried to laugh but my first question was, when will I be able to run again? All I could think about at that moment was the runs I had coming up. I mean I had another Marathon in the schedule and a Ragnar Relay coming up. When could I start training again? I had not yet understood the gravity of my injury.
He laughed and said something to the effect of, everyone always asks me that. I think he was trying to offer some comfort.
His next words were, “We’re looking at, at least two surgeries”. With those words, my jaw dropped. I remember mouthing a few profanities to my husband, I realized then that things would be different. I was expecting to walk out with a cast. Instead, I would find that I would be non-weight baring from 3 months post-surgery and spend months after in rehab learning how to walk again.
The pain of the injury was excruciating, and the pain following surgery was relentless, but the impact to my life would remain long after most of the pain was gone.
After several months in the walker, I was overjoyed when I was finally able to shuffle my first steps across the floor alone. I had a long way to go, but running was nowhere in my future. I had to decide, get sad or get moving… so, I made a new goal, WALK! One step at a time!
Slowly but surely, I began to gain strength in my atrophied leg, and was able to start walking without a walker, it took almost a year, but I got there… then my brief freedom was gone! Within a few weeks of walking, my destroyed joint began to wear and ache, and one morning, I fell to my knees in pain after getting out of bed and once again, I was back in a walker.
A trip back to the surgeon showed that arthritis was building in my joint and I was now once again, looking at another surgery with drugs and shots to help with the pain.
I went home and sobbed, I could not fathom the idea of another surgery, more isolation, more pain, more loss of movement.
I would not handle more… So, I took matters into my own hand, dove headfirst into books, studies, lectures, reports for all options. What I found was quite simple, yet in its simplicity has worked for me and 4 years later, I remain relatively pain free, drug free, and have yet to schedule that second surgery. That journey, as miserable as it was, was the driving force behind where I am today.
Strength for me, meant not falling into the darkness of what was the most painful and emotionally challenging time of my life, finding new ways of being ME, when everything I used to be had changed.
Strength meant learning to ask for help when I needed it and being open to accepting it when others offered. It meant letting go of who I used to be and allowing a new person to shine through.
Strength meant recognizing that new limits were just new opportunities explore new activities.
I hope today, if you find yourself struggling, that you can pull up your inner strength and find a way to shine through any challenge that comes your way!