My mother was told she had six months to live. She followed her doctor’s prediction and died within that time period. A client informed me it would take a year to recover from his plantar fasciitis; he didn’t make any progress until 12 months had passed. I was given the diagnosis of severe hip Osteoarthritis with the prognosis of reduced athletics, more pain, and a hip replacement. A decade later, I do not have a new joint, and I am about to fulfill a dream by embarking on possibly my most ambitious athletic endeavor: a two-person, nine-day mountain bike stage race in South Africa with my husband of 20 years!
Why did I achieve this result? What was different about how I approached my circumstances? Nothing remarkable, really. I just didn’t accept my forecasted future. I questioned what was possible, and searched for an alternative. “Tenacious” is the one word I used to describe myself in my college application essay. It still applies. I am determined, persistent, resolute, strong-willed and maybe even . . . spunky? Yes, spunky is a synonym for tenacious, and I like it, though I wouldn’t have thought of it as a word to describe me.
There are potentially several differences in my approach to overcoming my injury, but there were two fundamental necessities for my recovery: hope and control. I didn’t give up hope, at least not for long. Of course, I became depressed, uncertain, and doubtful. Some days it was hard to force a smile. Fortunately, these days didn’t become my norm. I strived to keep moving forward, anticipating healing and forthcoming sports adventures.
Instead of letting my health be driven by other’s expectations, I took control. I refused the standard projections. Be assured, I did not take undue risks that would jeopardize my body. I merely pushed the limits I was given, gradually and with restraint. Listening to my body, I knew when to back off, and when I could go a little more, each small step adding up, helping me achieve my goal: life without limitation.
I still have my challenges, and my recovery is not yet complete, but I am once again able to participate in mountain biking at a high level. I didn’t know if I’d ever get here. I was nervous about signing up for such a big event, which will require extensive travel and will necessitate that I perform jointly with my husband. I had doubts my body could do the training required. And it isn’t going to be easy: Nine consecutive days of riding; 50+ miles at each stage; multiple challenging climbs. I’ve never done anything like this before, but I decided to follow the sentiment of a sign I had in my bedroom as a child, “Go For It!” And I’ve been pleasantly surprised with my resilience. When deciding, I told a friend over lunch that maybe this is just what I needed, a challenge to see what I can do. I’ve reached a turning point. It has been a decade since the peak of my competitive mountain biking career. Regardless of our results in South Africa, I feel as though I have won!
So, who is in charge of your health outcomes? Is it you? Or have you turned your power over to someone else? If so, it’s time to take back control and reconnect with the hope that lies within you--the hope you have for your health and life desires. I’d love to hear what you are driven to achieve. I’m striving to create a community of people who are willing to take charge of their health and surpass everyone’s expectations, while having a great time doing it.
If you want to follow our mountain bike ride in joBerg2c, visit The Pain Free Athlete Facebook page. You can also sign-up for updates on the event website. We'll cover 500 miles over nine days, riding from Johannesburg, South Africa to the coast of the Indian Ocean. The event is April 22-30, 2016. You can check our stats under our team name, K20J Wedding Day. Ken and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary on April 27th with a 61-mile ride, climbing over 6000 feet in this foreign land.
I have been able to pursue this goal by remaining hopeful and taking control. You can, too! Whatever it is you desire, no matter how out of reach it might seem right now, don’t stop aspiring towards what you want. “No man will ever soar higher than he has thought or dreamed.” So... Dream Big and Go For It!