Sometimes the Universe sends subtle messages that are often lost among the more stubborn of us. Other times, she sends a message LOUD AND CLEAR. My injury on December 3, in which I herniated my L3/4 vertebral disc, was one such message. This has not been an injury I could walk through or ignore. No, this one left me flat on my back in excruciating pain for 8 days in the hospital, landed me on some hefty pharmaceuticals (which I abhor,) and basically has disrupted my life so much that I have been forced to be right in the moment and pay attention. This has not come easily.
The injury came at a very busy time of year for me, right at the beginning of my winter work season, at the time when I needed to don my ski patrol fearless leader hat. The injury was so difficult to manage psychologically that I felt as though I had to hang on for dear life to my work, if only to have one thing that made sense. The drugs I was on didn’t help with this at all, lending themselves to a whole host of issues such as depression and panic attacks. Additionally, for over two months I experienced a heavy brain fog that slowed down my thinking to a snail’s pace. My very talented and experienced team was exceedingly supportive and, of course, made everything flow smoothly on the hill. Not being able to ski, I was relegated to only my administrative duties, which took me twice as long to accomplish due to my aforementioned issues. My usual abundance of outdoor time – a tried and true method of shedding stress and coming back to myself – came to a screeching halt.
I wish I could say that I have been moving through this process with grace and ease. Alas, it took me nearly 2.5 months to relax into it. (See above regarding subborn people.) There was one day about two weeks ago when I truly digested one of my lessons. First, I had a conversation with a trusted adviser that revolved around practicing patience and compassion for Self. Then, not too hours later, a discussion with my doctor in which she echoed the same theme. Later that afternoon my physical therapist talked to me about having patience with the process of rehabilitation. Next I came home and picked out one of my inspirational cards at random: “Trust everything happens in its own time.” And that evening, a conversation with a dear friend who reminded me of her theory of “steady plodding,” moving slowly and confidently down the trail in no particular hurry, because you’ll still get to the same place…and maybe if you don’t rush you’ll have an easier and more enjoyable time getting there.
I turned my face up to the sky, laughing. “I get it! I see your point! Thank you.”
Things have been a lot smoother for me since that day. I have started tapering off the meds, my brain fog lifted, my view widened, and I relaxed. Now the challenge is to keep this mindset without grasping. I still have many metaphorical miles to travel before I’m back pouncing down the trail, be it snow or moss covered. I have chosen to release my expectations as to when that will be. I have let go of travel plans for the upcoming summer in order to give myself the time and space to heal fully. My path right now is to be mindful and patient with the process, and during all of its ups and downs to be as compassionate to myself as I would be to a friend in the same situation. Feeling stronger in body and mind, I will steadily plod to health and wellness.
Please remind me I said all that when my foot slips off the trail.