Injury & Illness

By: Dawn Swinney

Most people with an active lifestyle have experienced some kind of setback, whether it’s an ill-timed sickness or an injury (is there EVER a good time for one of those?!). It can be extremely frustrating, sometimes downright scary, and often requires adjusting your “normal” routine. Maybe you have to dial back the intensity or number of workouts you’re doing, or perhaps there are things you just have to take a total break from. Sometimes a medical professional gives you news you don’t want to hear based on an x-ray or MRI or some other test. That could mean just a temporary disruption of your level of activity or…more than that. Think, that dreaded 7-letter word surgery, or perhaps something as serious as a terminal diagnoses. For those of us who have developed the habit of working out daily or getting outside and moving frequently, these things can, yes, derail us physically but totally crush us mentally. We can go from the highest high to the lowest low with a single lift, fall, or doctor’s visit.4

Before you tune out due to the seemingly depressing place this is heading, hear me out…our attitude determines our experience. We can choose to look at a bump (ranging from a minor speedbump to Mount Everest) in the road as an obstacle or an opportunity. It is really easy to go down a path of focusing on everything you could do before and can’t do now. It is a huge bummer when something like this happens, especially because it often seems like an injury or illness follows a time where we actually feel like we’re making improvements in our performance or are just starting to get to a good place. We ask, “WHY NOW?”, “why me” and we can experience a range of negative emotions. I can’t answer those questions for you all and am certainly not advocating a “get over it” mentality. However, from personal experience, I’ve seen that there is often an opportunity and something to be learned from a setback.

Recently, I’ve dealt with a few injuries that have sidelined me from what I’m used to doing daily and after going through a range of thoughts and feelings, have seen some opportunity arise from my obstacle that I thought I’d share. First of all, it’s been a chance to really take a good look at the things I’ve taken for granted (oftentimes my health and abilities) and return to gratefulness for what I do have and can do. Second, it has showed me the importance of empathy and humility; when we can open our eyes to what others around us are dealing with, it’s humbling and redirects our overall perspective. Perhaps lending them an ear of genuine concern and care is more important that your agenda for the day. Third, it has given me the time to look at what I’m valuing and what I’m finding our worth and identity in and do some self-evaluation to see if my priorities are in line with what I say is important to me.

None of this means these experiences are easy. They can be downright tough and even completely tragic. In preparation of writing this blog, I searched Kevin Ogar’s (if you don’t know who he is, look him up…it’s worth the time!) Instagram page for an inspirational quote to end with and what I found backs this all up even more than some positive words. I went all the way back to his posts in January of 2014 when he was paralyzed from the waist down after a weightlifting accident. Ironically, there are a few from the weekend the accident occured (prior to the incident) and then the very next post is a month later of him re-learning how to swim. I’m sure he went through allthe emotions and questions, but he has also chosen to turn this giant obstacle into moving forward, taking on life as being full of new opportunities. Pretty inspiring isn’t it?