It’s May 16th as I write this, and if you know me well, you know it has been seven weeks since my first knee surgery. Seven weeks has felt like seven months. It has felt like a battle or a test of some kind, and every day new challenges meet me and exhaust me. Seven weeks on crutches, still three more to go. Seven weeks may not seem very long, but when you lose the ability to do so much, like walking, it feels like time has slowed down just to add to the pain and agony.
Getting surgery and all that has come with it has been one, if not the most, challenging, exhausting, most painful and lonely times of my life. The “I feel lonely in a crowded room” kind of lonely. Where it is truly a one of a kind physical, mental, and emotional battle that no one else can understand. And don’t get me wrong, life goes on, and everyone goes about their days, but time stands still for me and I’m not moving.
I haven’t been able to walk in seven weeks and I have lost a high majority of the muscle in my left leg, and it is visibly obvious that an un-balance exists in my small body. Enduring two major procedures, then to have a hairline fracture on top of it is physically excruciating. My bone isn’t healing perfectly, it’s actually a slight concern to my surgeon. A lot of activities are painful if I don’t take extra caution and care.
Not being able to take care of myself is mentally heart breaking. For weeks it was a challenge to shower alone. I couldn’t clothe myself without problems. Can’t walk or buy my own groceries. Couldnt lift my leg. Forget being in crowds with a lot of people. Whenever our house gets messy I just stare at the trash bags because I can’t carry anything that doesn’t fit into a backpack. Crutching to class, crutching in the rain, crutching far, was tiring. Not being able to walk wore me out in so many ways. Being limited can make me feel more excluded
Feeling so alone and helpless was emotionally draining. There are days where I didn’t want to get out of bed and I wanted to lay in the dark. I wanted to give up. What was the point of putting forth the effort and going out into the world? I have problems with anxiety and depression after being diagnosed post-injury last summer, with a repeat of my injury in the fall. So staying alone a lot was lethal and sad. It made me feel even more alone. Everyone felt bad for me and no one knows really what to say to me. Hearing that I may never recover from a double knee surgery to swim the way I did before surgery, is probably the biggest emotional battle I face every day. It seems unfair and unbelievable. To have something so important taken away from you so soon hurts. The simplest way to put the past seven weeks is that it hurts. Every little bit of me hurts in one way. But it is better to struggle a lot every single day, overcoming odds, than to not exist at all.
I recently watched the popular Netflix show, 13 Reasons Why, and it broke my heart. If I have learned anything from this surgery is to not give up on yourself or life. It isn’t the answer. So, to put a positive spin on it, I thought of 13 Reasons Why Not. Thirteen reasons to not give up on yourself or on life, no matter how dark those days feel. Through any difficult challenge or burden you may carry, keep going on.
13 Reasons Why Not
You are priceless. One of a kind. No one else is you.
Yes I know there are such things as doppelgänger and the idea that “no one is truly unique”. Yeah well, forget it. I don’t buy it. Even twins and triplets have their own personalities despite their likeness. You are irreplaceable, the only one. No price can be named on your life or your footprint on the world. You are you, no one else can be that.
To me, family is everything. Through thick and thin, the good and the bad, we always go back to the one’s who gave us life, raised us, taught us, loved us, whether blood related or not. Those who feel like home and make everything better instantly. Home isn’t really a place, but the people who resided there. Family could be broken down, but it still stands through the toughest of storms.
The people we meet in our lives and have the pleasure of knowing and coming close to. They impact you, and you impact them. I’ve read that you are the average of the five people you spend most of your time with, so you have a bit of your friends in you. Because they love you and care about you. Friends for a season, or friends for a lifetime, they all have a purpose to help us a long in life.
It can get better.
It can really get better, and when we want to give up most, is when we are closest to the finish line. When we endure the hardest times, the best is yet to come. The tough season of life can be short or long, but it does end. It does get easier to bear, and one day it becomes a memory. Another thing in life you overcame. Find a positive in each day to push you to the next one.
You can get stronger from challenges you overcome.
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” isn’t exactly a perfect example but you can get positives out of hard times. Tough times make you stronger in new ways and help you grow. That uncomfortable change can bring something new to your attention or help mold you into the person you really want to be. If you keep falling, keep getting up.
There is so much good in the world.
There are awful days and mean people, but there are beautiful places, incredible people, and amazing things that wait out in the unknown. There is also beauty in the simple things of life. A sunrise, the smell of the ocean, the mountains after rainfall, the world is full of wonders and mystery. Not everything is terrible, there is always good to balance the bad, we just need to remind ourselves of it.
Each day brings a new beginning.
Each sunrise brings a new day and a new opportunity. For change or for growth. Maybe to learn or overcome. Today could be that day, or maybe even tomorrow, that you take that first step. A new day is progress and time does help heal all. Don’t let life pass by in front of you, because you’ll wake up and realize what you missed a little too late. So don’t be afraid to move on, or to help yourself. It is never too late for a new start.
Life has so much to offer.
A new job, a new relationship, friendship, re-kindling with family or your past. There is the present which is overflowing with so many blessings that we honestly forget to count. The future holds infinite unknowns and paths that could be taken and it is right at our finger tips. Any small change can lead you down a different road if you wanted to. It is all endless. Our past doesn’t define our future, because many roads can lead to the same destination.
Love for your family. That one goofy friend that always made a point to say hey to you. Love for your favorite animal. That love you have for your hobby or sport or job. The passion you feel when you see that one person. Maybe even that favorite food that is a total guilty pleasure. Love is in all areas of life and it makes everything so tangible and precious. It can make the smallest of things seem so amazing. Pizza is one of my favorite loves of life, and it can really turn any day around for me. Grab that treat for yourself now, call that person, or find your favorite pet to snuggle with.
A bad day, week, year, doesn’t mean a bad life.
It is normal to go through seasons of life. They bring so many things to us, and we end up looking back and wondering how we got to where we are. This time last year was completely different for me. Now four or five years ago, I was a different person. I’ve gone through a lot of tough times and growth, and the old me feels like a distant memory. Even a few months ago can feel far. When time passes by, you’re growing and changing constantly whether you realize it or not. So this challenging time doesn’t mean it’s it for you. You’re not done, and it isn’t the end or how the rest of your life will be. You have control. So if you feel like you’re in one hell of a storm of life, grab an umbrella and brace yourself until the sun shines again (time is everything here).
You’re someone’s world.
“To the world you’re just one person, but to one person, you may be the world.” – Dr. Seuss. Yep you read that right. You may not even realize how influential, beneficial, and incredible you are to someone. You may even be the reason that one person doesn’t give up. They don’t give up because you’re everything to them and they know they can’t lose you. On those days where you feel insignificant and unimportant, remember that you aren’t. There is someone who looks up to you and adores you. You’re someone’s everything. Their whole world.
The progress you’ve already made.
Yeah you’ve been through hell and back, maybe two or three times honestly. Are you the same person you were a year ago? Five years ago? Are you in the same place? Nope. Progress is progress. Baby steps lead to milestones, and milestones lead to journeys and destinations unknown. Respect what you have gone through and how you have made it to where you are. Maybe give yourself a little high-five, we both know it wasn’t easy.
You are fearfully and wonderfully made, with no mistakes.
Best for last! This one usually gets people. Now I won’t go all Jesus on you (if need be, tune me out and remember the last 12 awesome reasons), but I will say that you’re not a mistake at all. You were planned, you mirror the image of God in all of His glory and love. There is a purpose for everything, for things we may never understand why. That is one of the hard parts of life is that we may never know why, but we have to trust the plans that have been made for us. I may not understand for years why I endured what I have endured, but there is beauty in complete trust (with some very tough days, understandably). Life isn’t perfect and neither are we. We do however have a purpose, you were made for a reason. Actually for infinite reasons, and don’t forget that.