New Castle News

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July 3, 2014

Lori Brothers: Recovering from an injury? Take it slow

NEW CASTLE — Uncertainty and impatience from the result of an illness or injury can be a big challenge.

I remember when I shattered my knee cap in 2004. During her intake the Physical Therapist asked me what my goal was.  I replied, “Get back to the way I was before.”

I could tell by the look on her face that she had total compassion, but she was also totally amused by my answer. She continued to wait for an answer she could work with.

I realized I was leaping too far ahead of my situation. I responded, “Oh, I guess I’d like to stop being afraid of the stairs.”  I had been dealing with anxiety because I am horrible with managing crutches, and that instability introduced the fear of falling.

She agreed this was a reasonable goal. We focused on creating strength and flexibility in my knee so that I could work on gaining confidence on the steps.

Naming the next little step is the way to overcome uncertainty and the fear of never returning to the life you knew before your health challenge.

Commit to living life the best you can. It took about two years to fully recover my knee, well beyond finishing my formal physical therapy. I used my vision of full recovery, determination, will, exploration, discovery and patience to achieve that success. I will continue to “rehab” my knee the rest of my life. Walking and stretching are a daily practice.

I found out, recovery is something you work toward. It doesn’t always happen within that initial path from diagnosis to release from doctor’s care. I learned this during that encounter with my PT when I wanted to be back to myself “right now.”

There’s nothing more personal than the condition of your own body, which determines your quality of life. The feelings of angst, anger, resistance, self-rejection, or defeat can be overwhelming following a serious diagnosis or recovery from an accident or illness.

Someone recently told me that she had met her goal to lose 20 pounds, only to gain it all back when hormones went out of balance, requiring doctor’s treatment. While the hormone issue is now recovered, the weight-loss is a struggle. My friend said she still has 10 pounds to lose to get back to what she had accomplished.

Did I mention the word frustrating?  When we set intentions to improve health and get slammed by the unexpected, it is essential that we grasp the importance of establishing the right attitudes and support systems, including finding information about how to manage the aftermath of the illness or injury. It’s great to speak to your doctor, a personal trainer, a counselor, or Nutritionist. Seek expertise to learn, and recover as much as you can.

Don’t beat yourself up. Realize that each recovery is individual. The variables of your life circumstances, willingness to focus, the amount of time you commit, financial resources, and social support can slow or speed your success. It can be a lot, but never surrender. Keep going.

One word to focus on is “strengthen.”   Whether it is an injury, serious illness or a disruption to the body’s normal function, such as with my friend with the hormone imbalance, remember that a time to restore, heal, and rejuvenate is the natural progression towards full health. You strengthen as you continue onward toward your new personal best.

The term convalescence, is often referenced after a long-term illness. However, after any disruption in the body’s healthy dynamic, a time to build back up to your way of living and feeling well should be expected. Embark upon your recovery as a positive journey of discovery.

It may actually be counterproductive to speed up what you think you can do, or should be able to do, after you have been challenged by a health issue.  The most reasonable goal is to commit to assist your body back to health, at whatever level you can achieve it. Otherwise, rushing your return to normal routines, and trying meet too many goals too quickly, can compromise your health.

If you always do your best, you will become the strongest and healthiest you. That is never up for questioning, it’s only up for activation. Now, name that next little step and go for it.

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