Warning: The post ahead is a lot about me. But, read on and see if anything resonates with you.
To be honest, I have a decent threshold for pain. I have to as I am kind of accident prone. I’ve been through quite a few injuries, surgeries and my backside even met the front end of a Jeep while training for a half marathon (don’t text and drive, folks). Accidents happen but I have learned that fighting through injuries isn’t a badge of honor – it’s foolish. I understand that not everything can get fixed or operated on for a multitude of reasons. However, there are many ways to work around situations or even chill out for a little while as you recover. Time will pass anyway – you can afford a few days or weeks of rest if it leads pain-free.
My current situation is exactly 6 weeks post-op from hip surgery. Well over a year ago I had a “pinch” the came and went, was easy to ignore or work around, until… it just wasn’t. It turns out I needed to fix a CAM lesion and repair a labral hip tear. The head of the femur (thigh bone) and the acetabulum were rubbing against each other for a long time. This, in turn, lead to rubbing and creating excess bone that needed to be shaved down on each, in addition to putting 3 anchors in to close up my labral tear. The comment I get most often is, “That’s from too much exercising, right?” You’d love that to be the answer, wouldn’t you? 🙂 But, no. It’s not. My ball and socket has probably been like that forever and there’s a chance it’s the same thing on the left side. A lot of people walk around with tears in their knees, hips and shoulders and don’t always need an invasive approach. In my case, specifically because of what I do, I had to take care of it. The thought of arthritic hips before 40 is terrifying; not to mention sleeping, walking and driving became extremely painful in the months leading up to surgery. Because that’s no way to live, it left me with no choice but to take care of it.
6 Weeks In With Months to Go – Using My Time Wisely
I feel pretty good most days, but have the occasionally pathetic “why me?” days. After snapping out of it, I’ve come to realize how much it’s afforded growth. For one, it’s allowed me the time to do a lot of things I have put off. Simple things like putting albums together and printing years of pictures. I’ve also gone through old boxes, clothes and closets. Things like this are often put off because you feel like you have all the time in the world to do them. But, then you find every reason not to take care of them. I’ve gotten back into some books I’ve pushed aside and realized that being forced to sit still isn’t always a bad thing!
I’ve also allowed myself more sleep. I still make sure I’m up before 7am to keep my schedule consistent, but prior to this year, my training and work schedule kept me at 4-6 hours of sleep most nights. I can’t tell you how much of a difference this sleep has made in my life. I no longer feel drained physically and I don’t feel like I’m fighting a cold every other month. The point is, when your body is healing (and that doesn’t just go for post-surgery), you need rest! By getting 8 solid hours of sleep in and keeping a normal schedule, I’ve found this fleeting free time to be productive. I know that not everyone can get a good 8 hours of sleep – I was the walking advertisement for that with 3:20am alarms because “I’ll sleep plenty when I’m dead.” <- silly. I challenge you to really evaluate what is keeping you up too late and what is draining your energy throughout the day. Games? TV shows? Poor food choices? Your phone? You will find that when you let go of your technology dependance a bit, you rely on it less and less. More water, better nutrition choices and exercise are the secret not-so-secret ways to more energy; it’s just no one wants to believe it’s that simple…until they try it.
I quickly found that not working out really dampened my mood. Thankfully, I had to start physical therapy 3 days after surgery. While I was dying to push sleds and snatch kettlebells, just the idea of moving around and getting out of the house for an hour every other day helped me feel normal. I’m still not even close to swinging a bell or squatting weight, but I’ve noticed my attention to movement patterns shift; that’s been a great lesson. Instead of getting down about all the things I can’t do (which still does happen), I am working really hard on the things I needed to get better at in order to heal. Breathing techniques and really, really using my core have been harder than ever, but it’s helped me understand that each side of my body is so different. Everything I’m learning is also useful with clients. A high percentage of people who come to me for exercise are fighting some type of injury or imbalance. While I’m not a doctor, it is still my responsibility to move people safely and efficiently when they are with me. Learning, growing, failing, understanding. Repeat. It’s been a great cycle of productivity.
The amount of writing and researching I’ve been able to accomplish for personal growth is what I’ve been most grateful for. I won’t deny the lingering sense of guilt and fear I have while “working” and not seeing a paycheck. However, I’m using this time to develop myself and my knowledge is paying me back in what I hope for my future and for what I can do for more people over time. That’s something you simply can’t put a price on. There exists a healthy balance of enjoying time to yourself and using time to yourself to develop. You need to decide what “grinding it out” means to you. I used to think it was saying yes to every opportunity and pushing my body to the limit. That may work for some people. My approach to fitness, nutrition and overall health has boundaries; ones that limit my excuses for lazy and ones that allow me to rest my brain and my body. Having this injury allowed me to tackle obvious issues that kept me from performing pain-free and pushed me to work on goals requiring a lower heart rate 🙂
Here’s my advice to you. You may have a nagging pain or injury you ignore or work around. If you are okay with pushing past the pain, that’s your prerogative. Just think about the reasons why you are putting off acknowledging the signals your body is sending you. Are they simply annoying when you are cross-training everyday or are they getting in the way of daily activities? Are you worried about how long you will be out for? Do you just chalk it up to age? Do you feel like now isn’t the time to find out what’s going on because you don’t want to hear the worse-case scenario? I can’t answer these questions for you, but you should really think about the cost of taking care of something. For me, I put off an annoying pinch because I didn’t think about it too much. After resting it and working around it for months, I decided to seek non-invasive options. When that didn’t help, I had images done which uncovered the obvious and there was no turning back. I had something that needed to be taken care of in order to get rid of daily, constant pain. As my doctor said, “This is a pebble in your shoe. Why would you keep walking around with a pebble in your shoe?”