ENDURANCE...THE STAYING POWER THROUGH ADVERSITY OF INJURY
Throughout life, most of us strive for something more. We have an inherent need to become better than we once were. To atone for past choices that may have had a less than desirable effect on our bodies and overall health. We do research, look to others for assistance and advice, maybe even return to further our education, and mostly, spend a great deal of time...and sometimes money, to achieve our desired goals. We look to physical fitness as our hope, as it can improve our health on so many levels physically, all while strengthening our minds, improving our self-esteem, uplifting our spirits, increasing our energy, and giving us new goals to continually set, enjoy and achieve. We not only improve our own health, we challenge others to do the same. We boast of our new-found strength and start to admire what we see when the results appear. You know what I'm talking about, admit it, everything from being excited that our jeans fit—as we look at our butt in the mirror, continually flexing our brawn, to challenging others to beat our new PR (personal record); secretly hoping they don't.
We may even start to feel that we are just on top of the world, able to do almost anything, invincible even. After all, it takes hard work, persistence, dedication and discipline, and that can be difficult to accomplish at times--and many people are just not ready for it.
There evolves an elite sense of self. With that being said, there is a comradery that forms within the Physical Culture, from the beginners to the elite. If we are committed, we get to share a common bond that otherwise may never unite us.
But what happens when we suffer an injury? Can we mentally handle this new onset of challenges, when our bodies crave for more action? Is the rest of our Physical Culture community still committed to offering support or encouraging friendships? If not, we just can't give into the feelings of despair. We need to hold onto hope.
Injuries can happen during a training session from improper or incomplete warm-up phases, improper weight applied to the body, improper form and technique, and so on. But, what about if your injury has no rhyme or reason? Let's take a look at an injury that was no fault of your own. What about if your injury happens outside of your training sessions, like a freak accident? That's what they are really....freak....accidental...surely not planned......and very unexpected!
At least if you took a short cut in training and suffered an injury....yes, you would be most upset about it but you would also be on the lookout to guard yourself in the future as to prevent a further injury. You could have closure as to why it had happened in the first place and possibly a logical time frame for recovery. But now, not only do you need to come to terms with your unplanned hiatus from training, you also need to acknowledge and perhaps forgive the most unfortunate event; the event that changed everything!
Injuries, depending on the type, location, and severity of impact, can really have a life-altering effect on everything you do from here on out. Some heal with a designated time frame, others do not. Some injuries are more painful than others, for a shorter duration of time; other types offer life-long challenges, such as limited movements of mobility or even possible physical and mental capabilities that are now altered, where modifications will need to come into play. Either way, an injury ultimately will challenge you on every level—your activities of daily living, possible work abilities, finances, relationship strains, etc.
To get through this sudden trial in your life, you may need to think outside of the box—first by accepting..... then forgiving, persevering, and never giving up hope!!! And if you are a man or woman of Faith, the easier this process will be; as I see the difference in people that are not. When they are afflicted, it is definitely a much rougher ride, and I can't even imagine that!
For me, being a woman of Faith, I am ultimately comforted when I need it the most, especially in those times when everyone else has let you down. It is the only source or fuel in my life that keeps me pressing forward, and as a special promise, I also get to receive the grace to do it, without being as anxious. ("But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother"-Proverbs 18:24).
The understanding that comes along with a hardship or trial, is just the believing and knowing that something good will come out of it; leading to a sense of peace that does surpass all understanding, even if we don't understand completely why at the time......understand?
Confusing at first for some, but as time goes by, just look back at your life and notice the “ah-ha's” after the difficult times. We may even realize and notice for the first time that we actually grew as a person. We became better and stronger as a person, with real mental fortitude. Without even realizing, we have in a sense gone through, and made it to the other side of our challenge.
Now think, 'Whew, what a training session that was!'
My injury, in the spring of 2014, was a Traumatic Brain Injury resulting in Post-Concussion Syndrome, that simply changed everything! My days of training, both myself and others, came to an abrupt halt. It had impacted my body and mind as a whole. I was injured on the left side of my head, not by any type of exercise equipment, or during any training session of any kind, but from a dog. Yes, you read that right, a dog--one of our dogs.......large, full of power and running after our other dog.
I had inadvertently intercepted their fun. I had just happened to bend down to pick up one of my son's toys so the dogs wouldn't break it by running over it, so instead, my head was the unfortunate target. The forceful contact of the dog's hard head traveling at a running speed of (I don't know, but does it really matter at this point), into my head resulted in damage to several lobes located at the site of impact; Temporal, Parietal and part of the Frontal.....with some axonal stretching and shearing.
Difficulties that were noticed were Physical: Severe bone crushing headaches, feeling of a rod going straight through my head, severe pressure on top of the skull, coupled with burning and a wet sensations on different parts of my skull, as well as proprioception challenges, and balance issues--as I tip to the right, (not as much as I did before therapy now, but at times I still do when symptomatic). This all makes driving a difficult challenge as things, people walking, other cars, etc., all seem closer than they actually are, and if a car brake light turns on another vehicle, well, let's just say I jump in my seat.
Endocrine System disruptions: Hormonal changes causing Adrenal Fatigue and then the onset of an auto-immune disease and Fibromyalgia from the inflammation, initially caused by the brain injury.
Sensory: I continually felt as if my body was not my own; almost dream-like sensations.... and had difficulty with touch and dexterity. In addition, I also experienced heightened senses (smell, hearing, etc) with some hypervigilance.
Behavioral: I became highly emotional and when my symptoms became overwhelming, I would just start to cry.......(car rides would bring it about almost immediately).
Cognitive: I had problems with memory. Parts of these past 4 years are a blur. Plus, I would forget what task I was doing, such as cooking-(yeah dangerous with a capitol D!). Executive functions (planning, reasoning, decision making), any task was completely overwhelming....at the time, even my son's second grade homework—I couldn't even tell what I was looking at. Now that he's older and has to do common core—forget about it! It's still Greek to me.
Communication: My speech was and still is greatly affected. I had trouble trying to formulate what word I wanted to convey leading to slowness of thought and speech with stuttering and getting stuck on syllables. I still experience a speech deficit when I am symptomatic. I have trouble concentrating, especially on conversations and the person speaking. If more than one person is talking at a time, it all becomes jumbled noise and I feel slowed down cognitively and overwhelmed, then my speech slows as a result.
So, it is safe to say that my life, as I knew it to be, and even how I may have planned for my future, was not only suddenly altered, but I also had no idea for how long. I had to learn to not fight against it but rather, to accept what had happened to me, and as I re-learned some things and started to transform myself in the way I viewed my life, in order to be able to accept and to adapt to my new circumstances; I had to get to know a “new” me. As I continue to look forward to the future that is still so uncertain, I hold onto hope, and that “hope” means it is okay to be uncertain about what the future holds.
We don't have to know everything anyway, even us independent types; throw in an analytical mind and Bamm! Hard to do--don't I know! But, with that being said, we can look forward to a future that only hope can bring; a "good" that can come out of a "bad". After all, the future, we don't know it, own it, or control it— which probably, one of the biggest things to give up on, is “control”.
With any injury really, you lose that sense of control, that independence that you once possessed....or at least, what you thought you had. But, if you don't give up, if you don't cave in, you will ultimately increase your endurance in ways you never thought were possible before. Romans 5:3 says "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance."
There are resources and people who dedicate their lives to the service of others in fields that offer help to any injured person. No matter what your injury, you are not alone nor forsaken.—"I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."-Hebrews 13:5 For me, I took advantage of this truth and still do, and of any therapy that may help.
I had Physical Vestibular Therapy (for balance, ear/eye coordination in the brain, and proprioception). Speech Cognitive Therapy (memory and speech deficits). I am looking forward to Vision Therapy (working with wave lengths of light—some are more disruptive than others to the healing process) and Audiology Speech Therapy (working with frequencies of sound—some are triggers for an onset of sudden symptoms). I have been Blessed with a portable home rehabilitation tool, called the Sanddune Stepper, that is perfect for neurofeedback, offering additional help with my proprioception challenges.
I have also been given a gift, graciously, called time; more time to live with purpose! I'm looking forward to a bright future with the dawning of wonderful things to come—And so should you! Never give up--NEVER!
I have, since my injury with some recovery time behind me now, restarted back into training myself, at my own pace. No longer am I in any form of competition with others, such as my husband (as we enjoyed the thrill), for timing or amount of weight put up. I take an active role in paying close attention to my body language and the cues it communicates. I take very frequent and more extended rest breaks in between, as well as being more careful about the exercises I will even try to perform, because some increase head pressure. I am very aware of my triggers, my surroundings, and also certain types of exercises, some of which can be bring on immediate symptoms. This is definitely a new chapter in the book of challenges, for me or anybody else going through the recovery process of a brain injury.
Whether we had just begun our journey of better health through fitness or are quite seasoned and even competitive with the advantages of knowledge and strength, none of us are immune to the life events that can have a tremendous impact on our lives; our abilities as we know them to be, and to be able to continue how we were. So, let's all push through the pain of adversity, by persevering and adapting through our inabilities, to have the courage to go down another road far less traveled—but so worth it to see the destination and to experience peace within our journey as we get to the other side.
We all have choices on how we react to the many situations and challenges of our lives. We may consider our trial or injury to be so overwhelming and unbearably chaotic that we just do not know what to do. We can either freeze in time becoming angry, bitter or self-absorbed, feeling sorry for ourselves—(but that will not help our healing), so we must not give into those negatives!....Or, we can learn from our experiences, our trials and move forward in life with a purpose of helping others through them, through our pain.
If you need help and are looking for a fortress in adversity, you can read through Psalm 31, where King David sure felt life's anguish, yet he was courageous and did not give up hope! Don't forget, he fought the giant Goliath and won—with only a stone and a whole bunch of hope; of faith!
Rates of suicide are extremely high with brain injuries and the depression that can set in. It really is a most difficult and trying life event as it changes your whole world completely! If you or someone you know are near this point emotionally, don't hesitate to call a prevention hotline, such as the National Prevention Suicide Hotline @ 1-800-273-8255).
We need to just "let go" and embrace the positives!!! Let your tough times actually give light to you and influence you to a better tomorrow!
If we can learn anything from our trials with an open heart, we can see what we actually gained: Acceptance, Patience, Gratitude (that it wasn't worse), Forgiveness, Sympathy for others going through similar circumstances, True Joy, Real life Endurance and maybe a willingness or a drive to push through our suffering, and ultimately, the gift of Time. Time to improve on oneself and the time to make a difference in the lives of others.
If we look up and seek hope, we will find that Jesus will guide us through this storm. He will light the way of our dark path! We may even get to enjoy the fact that maybe our lives just got better, through it all and after it all. As for me I admit, I am human and do have those moments for sure of weariness loaded with weakness—but I also grab a hold of the truth. In the book of Isaiah in the Bible, chapter 41:10-13, it says, "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." That is truth we can count on!
I also hear and remember in my heart, especially when I'm struggling, which can be very often—"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness."- 2Corinthians 12:9 And you know what? It sure Is!!! I have witnessed and lived that proof!
Do you and those you care for, have that fighting Spirit of strength within—to have that "staying power"? You can! Never give up! Always have hope.
Soli Deo Gloria
C. Rae Johnson
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