It was a freezing cold 9 degree January morning last year when I found myself on the ground in the parking lot. It all happened so fast I didn’t realize that I had slipped on ice and fell until I was on the ground. My first thought was that I hoped that no one had seen me fall, my second was I was afraid I had broken my new pyrex dish in my lunchbox. Don’t worry, the pyrex was safe…my arm on the other hand…not so much!
What I thought was going to be a simple sprained wrist has turned out to be a year-long road of recovering with no definite end in sight.
The healing and recovery process has been very humbling. I’ve been forced to learn so much and grown so much through all of this! I’ve learned to take things one day at a time, one task at a time. There have been lots of tears along the way. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in over a year. I’ve learned the extremely hard lesson of asking for help. Let me tell you, it is unbelievably hard to go from being a “strong” person to having to ask for help for everything from putting on a bra, to taking off a shirt or opening a tube of toothpaste. My husband and children have been such a support and help throughout this whole thing.
Sadly for me, due to my arm injury, I have been unable to exercise. Previously, exercising was my life, my identity. I literally didn’t know what to do with myself once I couldn’t exercise! Also due to my extreme decrease in activity and my enormous increase in cookie consumption, I have steadily gained weight over this last year. I think in total I have gained about 20+ lbs… but I’m not exactly sure because I have not been weighing myself.
If you had told me last year that I would have gained 20 lbs due to my injury, I would have been devastated. Devastated!!! Gaining weight was my biggest fear. The thought of even 5 extra pounds was terrifying, never mind 20! I strived daily to be healthy, fit, and trim. I spent hours working out and weighing my food… Fast forward a year, my temporary disability has given me a new perspective, as well as new priorities.
There are so many things I have gained this year besides weight. I have grown in ways that can never be measured on a scale.
1) I have gained a new priority for listening to my body.
Pain is not the problem, pain is the warning sign to stop and make a change. I tried for months to work out, regardless of my injury, only be to be met with increased pain, regression of progress, and sleepless nights. I learned the hard way that I physically cannot grow my muscles right now. It is not my time to get stronger, I am in a season of rest, healing, and recovery. For everything there is a season, and right now for me, this is a season of forced rest. I’m working on growing roots instead of blooming flowers. I have curves now where muscle used to be and I don’t mind it.
2) I have gained a new respect for being the patient in the healthcare worker/patient relationship.
I love being a nurse, I HATE being a patient. Having to place your trust in the care of others is not an easy thing to do. Part of my treatment has been to go to Occupational and Physical therapy. I have never felt more humbled than when I was given a 1 lb weight and had to admit that I could not lift it. Trusting the people that were assigned to give me care was a hard thing for me to do at first. I was constantly leaving my appointments and googling what they had told me. As time went on and I grew to know them, trust got easier, but being in the vulnerable position of being the patient is still hard for me. This experience will definitely make me a better nurse due to the fact that I have now walked a mile in shoes as a “chronically ill” person.
3) I have gained a voice of advocacy for myself.
I’ve never struggled to stick up for people I feel are being mistreated. I am an amazing advocate for the patients that I care for. Unfortunately, sometimes I forget to stick up for myself… After I fell, due to perceived pressure from my manager, I worked my entire shift that day. The next week I then worked three more full shifts with numb fingers, an immobile wrist, and huge bruises on my elbow, hip, and thigh. Not being an advocate for myself immediately after the incident as well as continuing to work, not only put me at risk of further injury but also was unsafe for my patients. As I sat in the doctor’s office, a full week later, I promised myself that from that day on I was going to be an advocate for myself. Since then have learned to speak up for myself when I don’t agree with the decision being made for me. Personal advocacy is not being selfish, it is a right that is necessary!
4) I have gained a love for my current body exactly the way it is.
This is probably the biggest thing I have gained. Do I miss my strong legs, muscular arms, defined shoulders, and a flat stomach? You betcha, absolutely! But even more so, I love that I have learned to love myself just the way I am right now. I don’t need to look like I did a year ago because I am not the same person I was back then. For the first time in my adult life, I feel content with my body. I am thankful for this vessel that carries around my soul every day. This body has been through a lot with me over the decades, and until now, I have never appreciated her.
5) Throughout all of this, I have gained a soul that is peaceful, a happy heart, and a content mind. No more constantly pushing myself to be a “better” version of who I was yesterday. No comparison, no competition. No more deprivation of delicious things. No more constant movement to burn just a few more calories. Just contentment, happiness and peace.
Injuring my arm and gaining weight may have had a negative impact on my physical health, but the positive effects on my mental health have been 100% worth the pain and sleepless nights.
No one cares about the 20 lbs that I have gained.
No one has even noticed.
I’m hoping to eventually make a full recovery, but for now, I still have to take it easy. Progress at times has been extremely slow, but progress is still progress. It’s hard to watch muscles shrink and strength decrease, but I’m not meant to be blooming right now, I’m meant to be growing deeper roots. Roots for future blooms… blooms that might look completely different than the flowers I used to grow.