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How I Tore My Achilles: Part III

In the final part of a three part series, I talk about my mindset going into what is sure to be a long and difficult recovery from a torn Achilles. Read Part I here, and Part II here.

How I Tore My Achilles Part III: My Mindset

Objectively, tearing an Achilles’ tendon is not a good thing. The pain is real, the recovery process is long and arduous. Having limited mobility is not fun and having to rely on others is not something I want nor something I’m used to asking for. Having people look at you and not know whether to pity you or support you is awkward. I’ve never been one to seek sympathy and even putting my thoughts about this whole incident in a blog and on social media is a bit awkward for me. This is all new to me, but here’s how I’m choosing to look at it:

I’m looking at this whole rehabilitation process as an opportunity. An opportunity to slow down, take a look around, and take note of what’s really important to me. An opportunity to redefine how I approach everything in my life, from how I get out of bed in the morning, to how I take a shower, to how I cook food, to what relationships mean the most to me (as mentioned in my first blog in this series, my relationships are the most important thing in my life right now).

This is an opportunity to make myself stronger, more resilient, more resourceful. When faced with an obstacle such as this, this is where I can be creative, be imaginative, and put new ideas to use to not only help get me through these difficult moments, but also to pave new paths to use in the future. I fully intend to take this time to make myself a better version of me than I’ve ever been before.

The relationships. As I mentioned above, I’ve never been one to ask for help or sympathy. This experience, however, is forcing me to ask people for help. I’m having to get used to the idea that I can’t do everything on my own, and that I have to get help from others. I also can’t be adverse to the idea of people helping me out. It’s not a sign of weakness, and it’s not a bad thing for people to show me that they care. Even without the injury, I struggled to reach out to people and ask them for help. Before me lies an opportunity to exercise that ability, which is one that I hope will bring me closer to those around me.

I’d also like to comment on something I hear lots of people saying: “That’s why I don’t play basketball/ski/hike/etc., I don’t want to injure myself and have to miss work.” That’s a load of crap to me. I made the decision a long time ago that the small risk of injury was absolutely worth it to do the things I love to do in life, like play basketball. I want no part of diluting my experience on this earth for years because I was afraid of the off chance of hurting myself and, God forbid, missing a little bit of work. I don’t believe we’re put on this Earth to work as much as possible throughout our entire existence. I find it better to live the fullest life possible, and sometimes living a full life involves a few bumps and bruises. Without the hell there is no heaven. Without the darkness there is no light. Without the pain, there is no ecstasy.

I have *zero* regrets about playing ball that day, and I’ll do it again when I’m able to.

Part of keeping myself in good spirits is realizing this is far from the worst thing that could happen to me. People from all around the world to right down the street are dealing with obstacles much more difficult, with outcomes much less certain.

There’s a lady who walks up and down North Tryon St. in Uptown. You might have seen her before. She only has one leg. She’s homeless. Yet, day after day, she gets up on a pair of crutches, and goes about her business with her sweet white labrador leashed to her left hand. Every damn day. There’s no nine month recovery time for her, she’s stuck with just one leg for the rest of her life. No one is sending her a knee scooter, I doubt she has insurance. Yet she persists. She’s not letting her unfortunate disposition slow her down one bit. With far fewer resources than myself, she’s still determined to make the best of her situation.

Another friend I know is a quadriplegic. She’s about my age, but has been without the ability to use her arms and legs for almost five years now. I can’t move my left foot or put pressure on it, but I can’t imagine not being able to use any of my appendages. She truly has to rely on others for help with just about everything she does. Yet, every time I see her, in person or online, she has nothing but the biggest, life-loving smile I’ve ever seen on her face. She lives her life in a way that says “I don’t care about my condition, I’m alive and I’m going to live the best life I can possibly live.” I know not everyday is that optimistic. But you’d never be able to tell by talking to her.

Another of my friends suffers from Cystic Fibrosis. When I get the chance to talk to her at length, I know that part of her is resigned to the fact that she will probably lose her battle with the disease sooner rather than later. Despite that, she uses all her strength to speak out for what she believes in, and she continues to fight to make the positive changes in her community a reality. She never complains, she never uses her condition to ask for sympathy, even though she absolutely could. Instead, she channels her energy into creating the change she wants to see in her world, changes that she may not actually get to see come to fruition. But she does it anyway.

There are many others. There’s people in my community who have lost limbs due to drunk drivers, been beaten to within an inch of their life in random incidents of violence late at night, and those that have lost loved ones in unspeakable tragedies.

The point of all this is not to drum up sympathy for myself or anyone else, but to serve as a reminder. A reminder that no matter how bad of a situation you’re going through, there are others who are going through worse, and not only choosing to persevere, but to prosper and use those situations to make themselves stronger, more compassionate and more resilient.

That’s what I’m choosing to use this challenge as. An opportunity to make myself stronger, more compassionate and more resilient. That’s one of the things I believe makes this precious life of ours so worth living. When something threatens to take that life away, or make life harder to live, we step up. Overcome. Adapt. And in the process, we can meet that challenge and become something greater than what we were before.

In Part I of this series, I talk about how I injured my Achilles playing basketball, read it here. In Part II, I talk about the process of confirming the injury, and going under the knife to fix it, which you can read here.