There is a quote by Lauren Fleshman that I love. “Anyone can work hard. The best have the discipline to recover.” It captures what I have been thinking about for the past year. It’s a lot easier to strive, work hard, dig deep, put your heart into it (insert cliché sports metaphor here), then to patiently wait for your body to recover. Of course if your injury is the kind that responds to active therapy then you can work hard at it but a lot of recovery is rest. And you cannot aggressively tackle rest. It’s an oxymoron. In fact lots of recovery is like trying to nail jell-O to a tree. First you have to find someone you trust with the expertise to treat you. Next they need to figure out what is wrong with you, and then devise a treatment plan. Some injuries are more straightforward. Some, like my back injury, are not. If something goes wrong at any of these steps like the wrong diagnosis, treatment or even choice of medical professional then it takes a long time to get it right. And of course your body has to cooperate as well.
Along the way there is often despair thinking you will never recover. Several times as my youngest son and I cuddled reading bedtime stories he asked if I would ever be better. I answered him honestly saying I didn’t know because over the last year I often thought my back problem might be a permanent disability.
Back injuries can be a lot like depression. The vast majority of people have had back pain in their life just as the vast majority of people have had “the blues.” The trouble is when the situation does not resolve itself quickly but rather sticks around. It’s the duration that causes the altered lifestyle, your world getting smaller and smaller. It often occurs so slowly that you don’t realize how much it has been restricted until the fog lifts or the back heals and you can see what you have been missing. In the case of my back when I stumbled upon a treatment and was able to take the garbage out across our frozen back yard to the alley it was like a eureka moment. Who knew you could miss such a mundane task? I know that doesn’t sound like a breakthrough but to do it without pain was amazing, even exhilarating.
After trying countless medical treatments I finally, after many fruitless searches on the medical wonderland that is Google, found a treatment that worked. It is not a panacea but has helped enormously and finally given me hope that I will be able to resume normal activities including working out and running. Richard DonTigny is a physical therapist who has developed a program principally for use by patients who cannot find competent help and for professionals who treat patients with low back pain. Through a series of his exercises that I do at home I was able to reset my SI joint, maintain the correction and start the road to recovery.
February 13, 2015 was the 3rd anniversary of the start of my fitness adventure. Although the past 3 years has been fraught with ups and downs and this last year in particular has been light on the workouts I think I can say that it has been a success for one key reason. I am still trying.
I feel like I’m on the verge … on the verge of recovery, on the verge of feeling healthier, on the verge of feeling joy after a year and a half of grief. I heard a song that reminded me of my dad yesterday and for the first time since his death it brought a smile to my face not tears. What’s more is that it’s a song from the short months between his diagnosis and his passing. A time I thought would be ever marred with sadness and a sense of tragedy. But now I remember some sun filled days too.
And hopefully many more of them are to come….