It’s been about 7 long months since I had surgery to correct a lateral chondryl defect in my left knee – shattered cartilage, impeding all flexion and movement, was removed, and an implant was affixed to the femoral bone. It took 4.5 months of investigations and waiting before surgery, so all in all, I’ve been injured and out of action for almost a year. Even now, running is a painful, tough and gradual process. The good days may yet be far outnumbered by the bad, but the joy they give me makes room for the hope I need to press on.
After a year on the rehab road, here are a few things I’ve learned along the way about injury and recovery…
I hope they help.
- Gratitude is your friend. It will change your life.
- There is (almost) always something you can do. If you can’t run, walk, if you can’t walk, swim, get in the gym, and so on.
- Positivity will save you. Surround yourself with people who will love and encourage. Look forwards and upwards. Only look back to see how far you have come. No what-ifs. Only what nows.
- But you are the only one who knows exactly what you are going through. Draw comfort from friends who show you positive examples of recovery but remember everyone is different. Do not compare. You have not failed because it is taking you 4 months to walk when it took so-and-so only 1. Your paths are not the same.
- Recovery is exhausting. Healing is exhausting. Allow for this.
- Do your rehab. Just do.
- Build a strong support structure around yourself. This is your responsibility and yours only. Choose wisely.
- They say being injured is like experiencing grief. It is. Allow yourself some time in denial if it helps get you to the next stage. But the sooner you move towards acceptance the closer to recovery you will be.
- Be ready for the physical changes. This is a big one. A body in repair cannot stay the same as a body fully functioning and highly trained. It shouldn’t. Losing muscle, changing shape, it is all part of the necessary process of healing. You will get back to where you want to be if you give your body the time and tools it needs to heal. It is ok to be a work in progress. Real, lasting recovery takes real, hard, painful work, to body and mind. Keep showing up.
- It is going to get worse before it gets better. That’s ok. Be ready for the hard times and welcome them in. They’re taking you a step closer to the finish line.
Here’s to the journey. It makes the destination worth working for. Good luck, you’ve got this.