Looking back at photos taken during the earliest stage of my recovery from my accident, I felt a rush of emotions flood my body.
I remembered so clearly how I felt when they were taken. I still have so far to go before I am fully healed; typically the first three months for any sort of traumatic knee injury are the most important time.
It’s been just over two months post- knee surgery so I’m still in the acute stage of healing. Various intensities of pain remind me of this nearly every second of the day, but honestly, seeing those photos and feeling these emotions has also made me feel so proud of how far I’ve come.
Seeing Your Life Through Pinholes
It is easy to get trapped into seeing your life through pinholes. Your current state or situation is all you can see. But what if you peel away the surrounding layers choosing instead to consider a bird’s eye view?
Think of something that feels all consuming, maybe even depressing. If you put this one thing in the context of your entire life, it doesn’t seem so daunting now, does it?
My reality, for the time being, is very different than it has been during past Spring seasons. The Spring is usually a time for skiers to play. But this year is different; I have a new normal. I cannot ride my bike outside.
I cannot ski tour or ski fluffy powder with friends. Frankly, I’d ski cruddy powder if I could! I cannot go out for dinner with friends and sit comfortably. I cannot go to a yoga class, although I hope that will hopefully be happening very soon!
Because I have accepted the shift in my new reality, it has made the first two months of this process an easier pill to swallow. Sure it didn’t make the physical pain go away, but choosing to accept my reality and simply breath through the pain during certain situations has, in a very strange way, brought me an entirely different sense of “control.”
Learning to cope, to endure challenging experiences and not be affected or rattled by them is a skill. Do you yell and get angry at the driver who cuts you off? Or do you wish they’ll have a better day? Pinhole or bird’s eye?
Lost Independence Was the Worst
I struggled most with losing my independence, my control. Really, truly, relying on others was a big hurdle to wrap my head around. I don’t think my parents would say I am entirely over this, but I’m getting there…I know this when I think about how I used to feel driving to physiotherapy and seeing traffic ahead. It would cause overwhelming anxiety in me. I did not need to be in the car with my leg below my heart for any longer than I had to. The blood rush was shockingly intense at times.
But I’ve discovered an unknown amount of power by simply being in the present moment; not living in the past, a perceived present, or the future. Having the capacity to simply focus on one thing, by breathing through the moments and letting the anxiety pass, has offered a type of control beyond those moments in the car.
This matters now that I am back living on my own in my apartment in Vancouver. I felt a sense of self return to me within those first few days as I was forced to get my own ice, make my own meals, and do other small things. It was another small victory on the path of healing.
Amen for the small victories.
These small successes fortify me especially because I have more alone time now. When I look outside and envy people enjoying the sunshine on their bikes or indulging in patio dinners, it’s easy to be drawn into the pinholes.
My Reality Is Now
I envy athletes who tore their ACL around the same time I did. Funny, right? They are already outside on bikes or cross-country skiing. I feel a little punch to my heart but keep reminding myself that my current reality is my now.
My team of supporters are a tremendous help too. They give me confidence: my therapy team, my teammates, and my parents all remind me that my injury is by no means comparable to a torn ACL, and my own progress has truly been remarkable.
Maybe that’s what life is all about- a constant tug-of-war of checking back in with ourselves to stay present. We can’t compare ourselves with others. However, acknowledging what you’ve already achieved and the progress you’ve made gives can you confidence to tackle what’s next.
The lessons come like the waves of pain sitting on my couch and being able to reflect is one of the greatest gifts I’ve received in life. Writing about my experiences has been a series of beautifully therapeutic surprises.
I’m enjoying the healing that comes from humor, particularly sharing my days’ progress on social media, taking a rather sarcastic approach. Humour makes most things better.
I am in awe when reading people’s messages to me. The support – encouraging strength and perseverance – from people I don’t know is a gift I need to share. Last week, I spoke to 350 inspiring, driven, and talented young women at an Ontario university.
I challenged them to make conscious decisions about how they chose to see difficult and challenging situations. Choosing a wide angle lens gives you an entirely different view. That’s not all. You must strive to make it a positive lens. I know it’s easier said than done and every person’s life and situation is different.
But maybe it can be that simple. When I think of the place where I need to get to – and yet still not being able to eat dinner with both legs on the floor comfortably, it is daunting. I want to walk normally without pain. I want to feel like I once did – like an elite athlete endowed with the physical power I once felt. The anxiety is tightening in my chest just writing this!
I challenge you to join me and not compare yourself with others. Intently focus on being present, being positive, and seeing the bigger picture. Choose that bigger lens. I am overwhelmingly happy and grateful for the life I live and continuing to take on this challenge.