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October 13, 2017

Post Surgical Rehab & Mindset

BY: MARIA MICHTA

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So it happens - an injury, an illness, rock bottom. What’s the hardest thing about hitting this low? It’s not the climb back up; no the climb is what we yearn for, the ability to push, to be in control. The hardest thing is the unknown, the uncertainty, the fear of what if this isn’t temporary. What if tomorrow doesn’t bring improvement? What if the best is in the rear view mirror?

That was me two weeks ago. I was scared, not nervous... down right terrified! What was I doing? Was I making the right decision? Was this really going to make things better? Or was I going to make things worse? I did not have pain in my knee despite a significant tear to my meniscus; a tear that happened over 6 months ago that still allowed me to race multiple times this season. So was this surgery really necessary? Was this surgery going to make me stronger? 

Ever wish you could go back and tell your former self "don't worry, it will all work out fine, in fact it worked out better than fine, you rocked it? Of course we all have! But life doesn’t work that way. And so we drive forward, buying into the potential of tomorrow and optimistic for the progress it will bring. 

In one week, I went from race walking 15km in warm lingering summer weather, to meniscal surgery and limp walking with a cane. It is beyond humbling when you lose so much independence. I could not drive a car, walk up and down the stairs, or even put on and take off my own shoes. I moved in an awkward gait at the slowest pace imaginable and was even further impeded by uneven surfaces such as grass. Who would have thought that the NuStep machine in physical therapy congratulating me on my cardio session…"10min, level 2, 70 calories burned" would be such an accomplishment? But you know what, it was! Each day I have been blessed by continual progress. I went from being able to finally sit comfortably in the car to now driving again. I can walk up and down the steps and have even achieved 20,000 steps going about my day. I have added ankle weights to my leg lifts, and I can do calf raises and modified squats now too. And in less than a week’s time I have graduated to training on the elliptical! 

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So, remember to give yourself a break. Celebrate those small steps of forward progress and stop worrying about the length of the journey that remains ahead. Patience isn’t the ability to wait; it's the ability to keep a positive attitude while enduring. In the end this, this struggle right now will only make you stronger, more appreciative and that future victory even sweeter. 

So make a list of all that you can do, draw a line under it, circle the date... And then watch the list continually grow (your confidence too)! Before you know it all that patience, perseverance, and stored up potential energy will be ready to be converted into kinetic energy. When it does you’re going to soar!

Head up, wings out!

- Maria Michta

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