I’ve made a lot of physical and emotional strides in my life in the past few years (at least I like to think so). I can look back over the past few years and see a ton of improvement in my confidence level and my perspective. This isn’t new for me to say; most of my social media account and blog is dedicated towards documenting that journey. Sometimes though, life doesn’t always make me feel like I’m moving forward. Sometimes it’s easy to feel stuck, or even like I’m moving backwards. This week was one of those weeks for me.
It’s no secret I’m an active person. I like to try new things and sometimes push my body to its limits. That’s great and all, but it’s also bound to have its consequences (and that doesn’t just mean waking up most mornings with some type of sore muscle). One of the big outcomes is that I beat up my prosthesis harder and faster than most people. I’m also notttt the most cautious person in the world, so I have a tendency to jump into an activity headfirst without thinking it all the way through. Naturally, this combinations leads to many conversations with my prosthetist explaining what part of my leg I need worked on or possibly replaced.
Recently I’ve had some issues with the inner socket of my leg (the part that attaches my limb to the rest of the prosthesis). There’s also a metal piece on the back part of the leg that’s been cutting into my jeans, so all of my pants have gigantic holes in them. Call me conceited or shallow, but I’d rather not walk around looking like I picked up my pants at the local garbage dump. I’ve been putting off all of these repairs because, in all honesty, I hate any type of doctor appointment, and I hate dealing with insurance. In the past month, I decided to finally bite the bullet and go to the necessary appointments before any of the issues got worse.
Let me start with this: I go to an awesome orthotic/prosthetic clinic, and the staff members are all very knowledgeable and helpful. Let me also be candid: fake legs aren’t cheap, and insurance companies can be kind of the worst. I know that’s not a very fair statement - but after my week, I’ll say it anyway. I have a very high deductible to meet before repairs are covered, and this week I had the joy of learning just how much these necessary repairs will cost.
When I had the phone conversation with my clinic about the appointments and cost of the repairs… some words came out of my mouth I’m not proud of. Actually, I completely lost my cool. I was in the car with my roommate (lucky her), and I turned into an INSTANT blubbering mess (thankfully after I got off the phone). I think I expressed all the colors of emotion in the span of 2 minutes. I started saying things like, “All of THIS just so I can walk around without my leg falling off or ripping up my jeans?! Most people my age are saving for retirement and vacations, and I’m over here trying to figure out how to pay for crap just so I won’t look like an idiot when I walk!” I may have a flair for the dramatic.
I also have had moments recently reminding me of my physical limitations. I had a very well-meaning doctor tell me that I need to be more careful about overusing my left leg. He asked me if I needed to use a chair in the shower and reminded me to buy some crutches so I don’t hop around when I take off my prosthesis. I told him that no, a chair won’t be necessary - I can balance just fine. I also made sure to do some extra one-legged exercises in my workout that night just to be obnoxious. (My stubborn side doesn’t always bring out the level-headed, mature side of me.) Additionally, the more I challenge myself in different types of workouts, the stronger I get. But it also makes me adjust a lot of movements because of my leg. Most of the time it doesn’t bother me - sometimes though it makes me frustrated and angry that I can’t do everything that the person next to me can do (clearly I don’t like being told no).
The reality is that yeah, sometimes having a prosthesis can make life more complicated. I also happen to have incredible parents who continually bear the majority of the cost that leg repairs require - plenty of people don’t have that luxury. I also am able to do lots of physical activities that I take for granted and that other people would love to be able to do. I have a LOT to be thankful for, but it doesn’t make weeks like this one necessarily easier.
Why am I saying all this? To be frank, it’s because I’ve felt weak, angry, and frustrated that I’ve handled certain situations poorly, and I’m still trying to process it all. My guess is that many people reading this may be feeling similarly about something in their life, so maybe we can process together.
I realize it’s important to give myself (and yourself) grace and take a look at past struggles to remind myself how far I’ve come. I remember very vividly the first month I got my prosthesis. I had started physical therapy sessions so I could learn how to walk with less of a limp. I was still adjusting to my prosthesis, and I was in a lot of pain. I started thinking about the goals I had in mind when I first started the whole process of getting a new prosthesis - they seemed impossible. I could barely walk for a few hours without having a mental breakdown; how the heck was I supposed to run and hike and box with my leg? I thought I made a huge mistake and felt sorry for myself for quite some time.
Sound familiar? Maybe like the first half of this entry where I expressed how difficult this week has been? I see a lot of similarities. And annoying as it is have the same lessons come up again and again, it’s also a good reminder that I’ve had times like this before. I was able to move forward and learn a lot of new things. I also grew a ton in the process of past struggles, and I have the opportunity to grow even more now.
So, when I feel frustrated or like I’m standing still instead of moving forward, I can look past this moment and realize it’s not forever. It’s ok to have those moments - they’re bound to happen; it’s called life. The question is, what am I going to do during that supposed standstill? How am I going to react? Will I become bitter, angry, and inward-focused? Honestly, I’ve gone that route quite a few times. It doesn’t ever turn out well or leave me feeling any better.
Instead, I want to choose the harder route. That means looking inward to see how this can strengthen my emotional stamina when my physical stamina can’t handle the circumstances. It means looking around to 1. learn from people around me, and 2. talk with other people who feel similarly. They don’t have to have one leg; I’m pretty sure every human in the universe has experienced moments in life where they felt weak.
Personally, I am fully aware that I don’t have the strength on my own to maintain this kind of attitude. The only thing keeping me together is recognizing my tendency to fail and relying on my faith in Jesus. I understand not everyone reading my blog or seeing my Instagram holds those same beliefs, but it’s true for me just the same. Regardless, how will you and I react to our tomorrow? Anything could happen. How are we reacting to today? We aren’t perfect and we will react terribly more often than we want. But we won’t always. Choose to see your current circumstances, no matter how boring or difficult they may be, as an opportunity to grow. People around you will see that and may even be inspired by it. Nobody ever said that patience and positivity was easy, but it sure is worth it.