As many of you may know, the last year has been a bit of a health roller coaster.
A year ago, I started getting severe migraines. The resolution meant adjusting medications that had been stable for almost a decade.
It didn’t take long before I was on bed rest, preparing for two surgeries, and then more bed rest.
Coming out of the surgeries, I felt great. I was able to walk long distances, some days up to 9 or more miles. But it only lasted until I returned to work.
Sometimes what’s good for you feels bad
I fought the new pain. I tried walking. In January, I got back on my bicycle, determined to return to my former level of fitness.
I only made things worse.
Six weeks ago, I could barely walk. After 10 minutes on a treadmill, I was in severe discomfort. At 30 minutes, I had to stop, as the pain would become excruciating.
So I quit.
I stopped doing everything.
What feels worse than pain?
I was so tired of doctors. I was tired of hurting. I was tired of the things that were supposed to be good for me making me feel worse.
As much as I hated the pain, it turned out there was one thing I hated more.
I just didn’t have it in me.
It took a few weeks, but back to the doctor I went. Then I started with a Physical Therapist, who figured out exactly what it was going to take to get me back to normal.
A lot of it.
She said we could go slow, and it would hurt less. But it would take longer to recover.
Or we could accelerate, but it was going to hurt a lot before it got better.
She wasn’t kidding.
To grow, we need to welcome the pain
Once I fully committed to getting back – whatever it took – the pain was almost welcome.
I had been scared of it. Scared I was doing something wrong. That I was hurting myself more.
Turns out, I was right. But my fear of going back to the doctor kept me from the right kind of pain. The kind that I needed to get my life back.
At the start of March, I was limping around. I was barely able to walk 30 minutes on the treadmill.
By the end of March, I lost 10 lbs, dropped a dress size. Then I got really crazy and decided walking was not enough. So I decided to run 3.5 miles on that same treadmill.
A week later, I ran my first 5k.
It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t graceful. My only rule was – don’t stop and don’t quit. But I did it.
What matters most to you?
Why? Why would I suddenly decide to RUN a 5k, when 6 weeks prior I could barely WALK?
Because doing anything worthwhile pushes the boundaries of our comfort. Because pain is going to happen. We just have to decide what’s more important.
The pain itself, or what’s on the other side of it?
My husband does a lot of endurance running and triathlons. He’s not built like a runner, but he likes the challenge. He once told me how he dealt with the inevitable pain and discomfort that would come during a race:
Remember it’s mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.
Over the last year, I’ve found exactly what I do mind. Quitting. I’ve realized I can endure a significant amount of pain and discomfort, and accomplish some pretty amazing goals, as long as I don’t quit.
What matters is my physical and mental health. My ability to look in the mirror and like who I see. Not my dress size, but my mental strength. My willingness to face what’s in front of me and kick some serious butt.
I may not be back to 100%, but I’m not letting that stop me.
Have you ever been sidelined by health issues? What got you through? Did you find that your mental state helped your physical state? I’d appreciate if you would share your thoughts in the comments, or post this on your social networks if it resonated with you.
Please note that my physical activity has been monitored to ensure I did not push myself too far. I’d like to thank my PT at Rehab 3 for getting me moving again, and my trainer at The Works for challenging me. They have partnered to make sure my enthusiasm doesn’t risk my recovery.