I was asked to write about overall health. As in mind, body, soul, wellness. You would think this would be difficult, but, in my case, it’s not. I have made this journey and renew my path often.
As you can see, there are 8 windows to good health, but knowing how to reach these goals aren’t included in the diagram. Funny how that works, isn’t it. I believe it is because the path is different for everyone and it is up to you to figure out what works. I am going to give you my journey and you do with it as you will.
Today- mind over body. That’s my mind over my body- just to be clear.
I am 47. In those 47 years, I have had five surgeries, but I am only going to focus on two of them. The reason? They were for the same thing. I had two back surgeries within a six-year period. The first failed to require the second. This is where mind-strength becomes necessary.
The first surgery was hailed a success and I was sent on my merry way to live life to its fullest. Little did we know that would only last six years. At the time of the second “injury”, I was a 42-year-old college student. Yup, I went back to school. Which was to fulfill the yellow leaf of the wheel shown above. I was too far into the semester to get a refund and too close to the end to quit. What do you do? I spoke to my doctor and explained this situation.
Him: “Your pain will be consistent and actually become worse over time.”
Me: “It’s 2 1/2 months. Can we get me there?”
Him: “I can give you pain meds and send you to the pain management office for injections. After that we will have to re-evaluate…you need this surgery.”
Me: “I know. In May. Just get me through finals.”
To fully understand the severity of this injury I like to explain my spine as a Jenga game with a large section missing near the bottom. You see, the first surgery they removed a shattered disc and all the little shards that were pinching nerves and just being dicks. But, nothing was put in its place, hence the Jenga game reference. Fast forward six years to a very active Ticia and the game collapsed. No, really. It collapsed. The pain was so intense it made me vomit and become dizzy. ER, X-rays, pain injections, specialists, more pain meds, CT scan, MRI…my insurance company hated me by the end of this ordeal.
Through all of this, I went from doctor to doctor who just threw pills at me (which I refused to take). Each doctor gave me the “You will never be able to…” speech. I would never live a full life. I would be limited in movement, activity level, endurance…blah, blah, blah. So when I sat in my surgeon’s office I told him to never put a limit on me and he said “Great! We will…” get me on a bike, hike the trails, walk on a beach, go back to the gym…and he didn’t throw pills at me. Even at my worst, I would only take half of what was needed because I needed my mind focused on what I wanted not in a fog.
I refused to have a limit so he gave me a path instead. I refused to quit school and finished on the Dean’s List. I finished my last final and went into surgery two days later. I made my mind up that this would not define the rest of my life. I would do all the things I wanted (within reason) and I would do it on my feet.
Am I without pain- Hell NO. If I ever woke up without pain I would know that I died in my sleep. I will always have pain. I will have times when I won’t be able to walk without a cane or walker. I have moments where I cry. I mean, ugly cry, and that’s okay. I have an amazing support system. When I am down I have people in my life that pick me up. You don’t know love until someone has to carry your ass into the bathroom to put you on the toilet because your legs won’t get you there. That’s love. I have an amazing husband who has bathed me, dressed me, fed me, and held me when I have cried. He also pushed me when my own will faltered. He cheered me on when I needed someone in my corner. So, remember, this journey isn’t a solo trip. People are there right alongside you.
My body may have betrayed me but my mind held me together. I decided that I would…and then I made a list.
- I will finish the semester.
- I will ride a bike again.
- I will hike Pere Marquette. (Local hiking paths)
- I will enjoy myself on our trip to Virginia Beach.
- I will be a cool grandma who can get down on the floor and play with her grandkids.
- I will get back in the gym and heal my body the right way.
My journey is far from over. I will kick ass and take names later. I will ride and walk and swim. I will do and try anything in front of me and my mind will keep me on my path. Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes my brain sputters and chants “Recalculating” and has to figure out a different road to take, but it hasn’t quit on me yet.
It’s not always easy to stay strong. Sometimes you have to allow yourself an opportunity to fall apart. Tears aren’t a sign of failure. They are proof that you are, in fact human, and in need of a release of pent-up pain. It is perfectly acceptable to cry, bawl, and even whine as long as you pick yourself up afterward and keep moving forward.
Your inner voice has the power to crush you or make you excel. It’s all about how you talk to yourself. Remind yourself that you are a badass. You can do and will do and then do. You are only limited by what you tell yourself. I know that there will come a day when my mobility will diminish and I will have to rely on assistance. I know this. But, it’s not today and today I have things to do.
***Thank you, Donnell S., for your post suggestion. Today was the mind and tomorrow I will talk about body health and how I battle for it every day.
Find joy. Be joy. Enjoy.
If you have suggestions, comments, or questions let me know in the comment section.