We will all face obstacles and setbacks in our lifetime. I am sure many of you reading this post have faced far worse than my [Knee Injury], however if I share my story and help one other person who is going through a difficult time and feels alone then my story was worth telling. It has been 6 long months since my injury and through my pain, both physical and emotional, I learned a lot about myself.
I hit rock bottom within the first week. We had family in town to help, we needed help and BAD. It was a typical active Saturday in the Lil’ household, there were trips to the playground, and to the bike path, only I was not on them, my family came and went on that gorgeous day and I sat alone, on the couch. I was stewing and thinking of the long 6 months ahead, which seemed like an ETERNITY! I decided that if I could just get a book from the library I would be OK sitting because at least I would be productive. Since I couldn’t walk or drive, I needed someone to bring me a book, I texted Bob a couple titles and asked him to grab one for me. That book become my sole focus and lifeline. When no book came home I was DEVASTATED, and my family was perplexed, I don’t typically read so why was it the most important thing in the world?? I couldn’t walk, go to the bathroom by myself, or shower but all I cared about was that silly book.
My first learning is that I suppress my emotions when I am in survival mode, the book was really a metaphor for all the pain I held onto between my injury and surgery 2 weeks later, it wasn’t about the book it was all the emotions I had hidden bubbling over. I am really good at putting on the happy face that people expect from me, whenever anyone asked how I was doing I tried to come up with the most positive thing that had happened recently, or the silver lining, but I was anything but happy. For the next 6 months I had a few other “moments” usually in the shower and never at a point of inflection. It was always reflecting back on the past couple months and how long and hard they had been, and how strong I was trying to be.My second lesson is that I actually do have patience (I am shocked to write this). I am the person that starts multi-tasking the minute I get an automated teleprompter to the point where I end up missing the buttons to push and start pressing zero and asking for an operator. I don’t have patience for wasting time, and always look for the fastest most efficient way to do things. With this injury I had no choice but to be patient. Following my surgery, I had to spend twelve long weeks with a straight leg (right in the middle of summer). I hobbled around slowly instead of at my brisk long legged pace. I was forced to learn patience as I waited for my body to slowly heal itself.
Our bodies are made to move. I have always been an extremely active person. As a young girl, I was involved in too many recreational sports to count. I played Field Hockey, Basketball and Lacrosse in High School. In college I rowed for a year (not the sport for me!) before deciding to play lacrosse. After college I worked at New Balance for 10 years where I picked up running and enjoyed many road races. Being active is in my blood, it’s a way of life, and one of the many reasons we moved to Stowe where we can enjoy hiking, biking, and skiing all right outside our back door. To say I was devastated that a silly pick-up game of Soccer sent my activities to a screeching halt would be a serious understatement. I always thought that I ran to maintain my weight and health, it was the debit/credit system that allowed me to eat what I wanted. What I learned is that exercise feeds my soul, and is what makes me happy. It is my sanity saver, the way that I cope when life gets stressful. So I was completely lost at one of the hardest times in my life to not have that outlet for my stress. As soon as I could walk unaided again at 12wks, my spirits lifted. I had never considered myself a walker but to move in the sunlight and great outdoors was heavenly – life was exponentially better.
It truly does take a village. There are SO many people that I have to thank for standing by me through this injury. First, my husband who took on the role of caretaker and 100% of the household/kid duties. My parents for driving 1.5hrs to pick me up for physical therapy appointments and countless doctors appoints. My physical therapist who pushed me just the right amount when I needed it most. My best friend, who I called at my lowest point, and she sent me the most amazing/hysterical monogrammed fanny pack because I shared my frustration of not being able to carry anything while on crutches. My co-workers who all pitched in to help form a shuttle service to drive me to and from the office. And many many others who organized meal trains, called to check-in, and offered their support and re-assurance.When I looked back over the photos in this post, I feel like I am looking at another person’s life. I know it probably sounds dramatic (and it is) but I feel like I wasn’t alive, I was floating through the summer watching everyone around me living while I looked on as a bi-stander. Illness and injuries will take their toll on all families but I choose to come out of this experience stronger. Stronger for learning about myself, and stronger because I won’t take for granted being able to do the simple things in life like walk, or care for my family. I am ready to shed this experience and live again, not just watch the days pass me by.
What have you learned from the hard times that has made you stronger?