From Blessing To Curse & Back Again
It's been several years and another round of hip surgeries since I was able to hike all the way up to the lower falls at Johnston Canyon, but yesterday - I finally made it!
For me, the most difficult life challenge I've had to face this time around is the continual fight to maintain my mobility.
I started having major hip surgeries in my early teens - back when my body recovered quickly. Now, it takes years for my body to heal and that has been a long hard road for me to come to terms with.
In the 1990's I flew to Toronto twice to undergo reconstructive hip surgery. I was blessed to have been able to get an appointment with the surgeon who had invented the surgery I needed. He had no idea what level of mobility I would reach or how long it would be before I had to undergo another round, and I'm certain that if he could have seen with his own eyes what I was eventually able to do, he would have been incredibly surprised.
It took nearly 8 full years, lots of ups and downs, and lots of hard work, but I reached a level of physicality that I never in a million years thought I would. But that accomplishment wasn't solely based on my own drive or motivation. I had a lot of help.
1. My BFF introduced me to the Rocky Mountains of Alberta which provided some of the motivation. I wanted to be physically able to see more but it was tough terrain that would require a lot of strength, core stability and inner balance.
2. I ended up working for a triathlete who inspired me to reach for physical heights I had never before attempted OR thought I was capable of.
3. I found the perfect kinesiologist who was willing to train me, and let my body dictate what we could rather than follow a list of 'safe exercises for hip patients'.
By 2007, I was the strongest I had ever been since the surgeries started in 1979. I truly felt blessed! Then, in 2010, my left hip started to clunk. I began experiencing pain in other joints of my body, and fear started to creep in to my conscious mind. What was happening? The pain eventually prevented me from working out and the strength I had worked so hard to gain began to fade. I couldn't walk as far as I once could, and the pain was increasing by the day.
By 2011 I was in so much pain, I couldn't walk more than a quarter of a block, and I was terrified. How was I going to manage surgery now?
A lot of things had happened in my personal life prior to the total breakdown of my left hip that added to the difficulty of the journey:
1. I had quit my job and gone back to school, so I was living on savings. Eventually, the money would run out and create financial stress that I hadn't felt in years.
2. I had made the decision to move to a new city where I only knew one person, and that person had never been through a surgery with me before. We met back in 1998, when I had returned to work following the second Toronto surgery. We had had several conversations about my condition, as well as all the previous surgeries, but seeing is believing.
3. My brother committed suicide immediately after learning I was moving - which had nothing to do with me at all, but my mind's process pulled the guilt file and kept it in the forefront of my conscious mind for months. The guilt added to the anger I was feeling, which added to the fear I was feeling. All this negativity did nothing to help my body - in fact - it had the opposite affect. My physiological ability to deal with stress ended. My adrenals were completely exhausted. Too many years of physical pain, surgeries, a high stress lifestyle, and a diet that wasn't entirely compatible with my body meant I wasn't giving my body what it needed to maintain good health. My body started to fail in ways I had never before experienced.
4. The search to find a competent GP in this new city proved to be extremely challenging - which added to my fear and increased my emotional stress. The first meet and greet I went to was a disaster. After explaining my medical history to this doctor, I asked her to arrange for x-rays because I was experiencing a great deal of pain in my left hip. Her reply? I don't prescribe pain medication. She not only hadn't heard a single word I said - she made an assumption about me that was SO far from who I was, I was not only offended, now, I was panicked. I knew I needed a GP to get a referral to an orthopedic surgeon but at this time, there weren't a lot of GP's in this city taking on new patients. Eventually I found someone who was equally disrespectful, but he did, at least, arrange for the extra x-rays I needed and other tests. After some prodding that I should have never had to do - he finally agreed to send in the referral to the hip clinic. I had never before experienced horrible medical service and that terrified me even more.
5. The people in my personal life at this time, although they certainly wanted to be supportive, had no idea who I was, what I had been through before, and this ended up adding to my emotional stress rather than alleviating it.
6. My physiological health had declined to a state I had never before experienced. I couldn't think straight, and I was experiencing anxiety and phobias at a level I had never had before.
I needed very specialized orthopedic surgery and thankfully, I ended up with an extremely talented surgeon.
When you get all the way through to the other end of a challenging experience, it's easy to see all the blessings that were there along the way, but when you're going through it, blessing is the furthest word from your mind.
The fact that I couldn't find a GP who was willing to acknowledge that I had lived in my body for well over 40 years, had lived through multiple surgeries and - well - knew a thing or two about my own body meant I was forced to figure out for myself what else was happening. Thank God, I am capable of comprehending biochemistry and anatomy and bio-mechanics and all the other health information I needed. To get my body healthy, I needed to delve into all of these subjects and not only gain a thorough understanding of them, but also put what I learned into practice.
It's true - the Universe completely had my back and there were a lot of blessings happening, but in the blessings I had been given years before, there was also a curse. I knew what it felt like to be physically independent. To be able to physically go wherever I wanted and do whatever I wanted. After nearly two years of intense pain - both physical and emotional - I wanted to be free from it all right now. My impatience was at an all time high. I did everything I could think of to force things to happen.I wanted my independence back right now! My expectations were not only completely unrealistic - they were all entirely fear based.
I gained nearly 50 lbs through this whole experience. Weight gain is always a factor prior to and following major surgery, but this was the most I had ever gained and losing it is proving to be a huge challenge (pun intended! LOL)
After every other surgery, as soon as I started moving again, the weight began falling off. This time, it not only stayed - it increased. The harder I tried to force it to leave my body, the more it was determined to stay. The extra weight also put extra stress on my muscles and joints. My impatience caused other injuries that added to the extra healing time and increased my impatience.
Once I finally located the actual mind files behind my impatience, I was able to begin the healing process. I pulled those files and reassessed them at my current level of understanding. Once I learned the true source of my impatience, I was able to let it go.
Yesterday, with the help of my cane and the occasional arm of my BFF, I made it all the way up Johnston's Canyon to the lower falls. Once again, I feel blessed to have mobility without pain. I have a long way to go to get to where I want to be physically, but the impatience is gone.
Never give up! If you're stuck - keep digging in the filing cabinets of your mind until you find the mind file that is holding you back. Ask God to help you understand the contents of that mind file and to help you find the path to healing it. If I can do it - so can you!
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