“You’ll be OK he said; in three to six months you will be as good as new.” I looked up at his smiling face and wondered who the hell he thought he was talking to. I needed to be “OK” today! And that smile on his face, what was that all about? This was a concerned look on the face situation…most definitely!
It was June 10th and my morning routine had gone as planned, right up to the moment I was tucking the dogs into their beds at 9:00 and getting ready to sit down and begin my workday. I turned to walk around the desk and it happened, my feet came out from under me and I landed squarely on my back in the middle of the floor.
On my way down, while in mid-air, I said to myself, “this isn’t going to end well.” I will spare the gory details, cut to the chase and get down to business. I was hauled off in an ambulance, spent 12 hours in the ER and was eventually told that I had fractured a vertebra. I had broken my back!
I’m old enough to know that life is full of setbacks; in fact, at times it can feel as if life is one series of setbacks after another. I have goals, specific plans, things I do with my life on a daily basis and a “setback” is not on my daily list of things to do. I have a fairly naive view of life but I think most do. We are aware that adversity can pop its head in and cause havoc but, we don’t plan ahead…you know, just in case.
When 2014 rolled around and I was planning my year ahead, a broken back was not on my agenda. But here I am with this challenge to face and a choice to make. Give up or overcome this obstacle?
I have three jobs. I write and edit the Divorce Support page for About.com. I’m the Founding Editor for DivorcedMoms.com and I work with an average of three clients a month as a divorce consultant/marriage educator. I require routine, I’m a control freak, I NEED to get up and do what I do every day. And, my career is my passion. It’s like water and air to me, if I can’t do what I do on a daily basis I’m not a happy camper.
I’m like you; there are aspects of my life that I need to run smoothly so that I can continue to be physically and emotionally able to deal with the aspects that are chaotic. Suddenly I found myself surrounded by chaos and not sure how to overcome this new “issue” in my life.
How I’m Choosing To Get Back Up:
1. For two weeks all I wanted to do was lie down and give in. Hell, all I COULD do was lay down and give in. Man alive! When you are someone who never lies down or gives in having no other option can cause you to feel like you’ve had the shit kicked out of you emotionally.
And you know what; it is OK to feel those emotions. I allowed myself to worry, be afraid and I even threw in a few anxiety attacks. I sat with it, allowed myself to feel the emotional pain and threw back narcotics to numb the physical pain.
I didn’t want to do three to six months in a back brace but sitting with the situation and slowly allowing myself to accept reality helped me regain the emotional balance I needed to move forward through my healing.
2. Once the initial shock wore off and I was able to stand on my own two feet, something I never thought would cause me extreme joy; I made the commitment to doing whatever I had to; to get myself back in the game of life…may life. It’s a humbling experience one that shines a light on who you are and what you do and makes the mundane every day things bright and precious.
On that day I made a list, with help from a friend, of what I needed to do to keep myself on track physically and emotionally. I set daily goals instead of long term goals and have met those goals regardless of doubts that creep in.
I’ve found that holding myself accountable and working toward meeting my daily goals has helped lessen the anxiety and stress I feel over being out of control of my physical health. On top of that I feel a giant wave of momentum daily due to my commitment to stay in the game even though I still have moments of wanting to lie down and give in.
3. When I become overwhelmed with thoughts of the magnitude of my present health issue I consciously replace those thoughts with positive thoughts. I quite literally have found myself singing, “Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day, I’ve got a wonderful feeling, Everything’s going my way.” Rodgers and Hammerstein to the rescue!
And, don’t laugh, its working. But the moment I find myself belting out the lyrics to “Oklahoma” I’m heading for the nearest padded cell. Although I do wish I had a “honey lamb” to share this experience with though.
4. Stay determined to put one foot in front of the other. I have good days and bad days; getting through the bad days takes willpower, resolve and fortitude. On the bad days I’ve learned those attributes are in short supply. I’ve had days when I’ve come face to face with how week of character I can be. The urge to just throw my hands up and say, “oh fuck it” is strong but I have to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward.
Life can be a bitch. Whether you’ve broken your back, gone through a divorce or suffered some other life altering adversity, it has to be dealt with. It may sound cliché but the only way through to the other side is to just keep moving even if you can hardly move.
When life kicks your ass your best plan of action is to get up and kick back.