Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody! I kind of wish I had waited to post my thoughts on the role of love in healing and rehabilitation, so if you missed it, you can read it here.
This being a Monday, I’d like to state an intention right now. In keeping with my “Any day is a good day as any to set up your resolutions” mentality (if you missed that very brief post, here it is), I’d like to apologize to anybody who’s been wondering why my posts have been less frequent lately. I don’t like to make excuses, so suffice it to say I’ve been a bit lost lately. When I don’t make the conscious effort to ground myself, I have a tendency to kind of float away. My healer (whose post you can review here) taught me some grounding meditations that are good for me to do to use to keep myself rooted and focused on what’s in front of me. Maybe I should ask him to write a guest article on that. Anyway, I digress.
I am stating my intention now to at least aim to post something at least once a weekday. I’ll make it a habit to start off my Mondays through Fridays from now on with a post; this is actually an excellent example of what rehab is like. I began this blog April of 2010 and posted regularly — now, I’m a bit shocked to see that actually the entire site contains over 100 posts (and who knows how many words!). Over time, that little by little builds up to a lot. So let’s consider it a lesson in patience.
It’s important for people like you and me to remember this concept, since healing is so cumulative and so slow. There are so many sayings, quotes, clichés that embody it that it’s a wonder it’s easy to forget:
- “A watched pot never boils.”
- “A stitch in time saves nine.”
- “An inch is a cinch; a mile takes a while.”
- “The journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.”
My friend recently had a knee injury that kept her out of commission for a couple of weeks. Her doctor gave her specific orders not to do her usual workouts, but instructed her on some helpful exercises to do to help heal her knee. After taking off from work for the allotted rest time, and pushing herself to perform the exercises every day, she managed to heal it much quicker than the doctor anticipated.
The other day she asked me why I didn’t push myself to do the same with my rehab. Why, if it’s so hard and slow, did I not use that as more reason to just keep doing it? And cut short the time between my current condition and my healed and more functional future condition? she asked. “If I were you,” she continued, “I’d do it all the time just to get faster results . . . I was going crazy with my knee injury and wouldn’t stop strengthening it so I could use it again.”
Usually, I get really frustrated when people who haven’t been in your specific situation claim to know what it must be like to be you. Because you truly cannot know, even if you’ve seen the struggle and have taken care of someone in the situation, even if it’s your career to interact with patients rehabilitating from traumatic injury, what it is like. I told her as much, but because she hadn’t meant it to be self-righteous, I continued to explain.
I told her it was not that easy. Her knee injury took her out of commission, sure, for a couple of weeks, and her doctor told her what to do. But when your prognosis is less clear — when it’s uncertain as to how much you can heal and what exactly you can do about it — and you’ve been dealing with it for seven-plus years? It’s a lot less black-and-white.
The progress can be so slow that you don’t even notice it. Sometimes you notice it only when others observing you point it out. But even so, you’re still markedly behind everyone else and where you wanted to be. It’s a constant tug-of-war between energetically driving on and being discouraged by the seeming lack of results and losing steam.
But you know what? Unless you’re okay with your current condition, and okay with it actually degenerating over time because you’re not willing to maintain it, sometimes these uninformed claims of “this is what I’d do if I were you” are what we need to hear. In the end, it is that easy: The more you do, the better you’ll get. And it takes an exhausting amount of time and effort and concentration (all that repetition can make the mind foggy!), but you must persist. The stronger and better you get, you’re just that much closer to your end goal.
And might I remind you that recovery is really just a perversion of maintaining good health, anyway. Even those of us without an injury to recover from have to exercise and eat well. Taking care of ourselves is a lifelong commitment, and the most loving thing you can do for yourself. (So why not start today, on the day of love?)
To our healing,