What my hip injury is beginning to teach me….

Backstory – I’ve had hip pain for quite some time. I have been ignoring it and chalking it up to being overworked and not having enough strength. I’ve had a pulled hip flexor and it felt somewhat the same, and I have a high pain tolerance, so it’s something I can work through. As I increased some of my activities, the pain followed. I finally decided that my running seasons haven’t been going so well and I can’t do what I want without getting it checked out. As the pain continued, I went to the doctor and an MRI is the next step. The suspicion is that something could be torn – or that a piece of my bone has chipped off needing surgery to repair.

So…. In processing I have been able to sit with these feelings and also determine some important things. Now, don’t get me wrong – my initial reaction was to avoid the feelings, but that has changed to exploring feelings to try to understand them/the situation and accept them.

So… these feelings I have found…. They are there, they are real, and they are okay…..

There is a slight bit of guilt that I may have caused this injury with my unhealthy habits; my past eating and exercise behaviors.

I am disappointed in myself for not going to the doctor sooner; waiting over a year isn’t so smart.

I am sad that there is a chance I may need surgery or will be out of my activities.

I’m fearful that being out of activities will mean that I could fall out of shape completely, and gain weight.

It’s stressful knowing the work that will come with this recovery. I’m sick of recovery from things – will there ever be a time when I’m no longer broken?

My activities don’t define me, but they do make me happy –how will I find stress relief and independence without them?

It feels like my activity level is just something else being ripped away from me. Keeping balance in my activity level makes me feel like I have control and balance in my life.

I am overwhelmed with appointments and this will just add to it.

So, in processing all of this, I have found that I have a habit of not knowing parameters of self-care. Explanation:

As a child, if I was sick – I was sent to school anyway. I was only permitted to be sent home if I threw up.

In high school, I was quite sick, but it didn’t seem “bad enough” because my parents really didn’t do much in terms of my health. All of my dangerous episodes weren’t “serious enough” to keep me in treatment, so I learned that my body can handle a lot.  

I’ve always been a middle-distance runner so my races were “fast and hard”. My expertise is the 400m dash – you basically go as hard as you can and “gut it out” until you can’t go anymore; sometimes resulting in a collapse at the finish. You go and hold on; you just don’t stop; it’s understood.

I’ve always continued to play field hockey injured, and through pain, so I’ve never had parameters of injury and healing. In college, you do what has to be done to still play – there was never a point where you should stop to take care of yourself (unless something breaks or tears and forces you out); the game just meant too much.  There was a time in college when I had mono and shouldn’t have been playing the game – I never rested, per the doctor, and went to preseason anyway (my parents didn’t stop me – it’s dedication, right?) – My coach just strapped a quarterback check protection pad across my stomach (to try protect my enlarged spleen from rupturing), and I played anyway.

Often, if I am tired or sore from activity, I think, “oh, I’ll be fine; I just need to push through it; I’ve handled worse”. This has created a habit of not listening to or being aware of my body.

When I was sick before I went into treatment I was running numb; I felt strong – I didn’t hear my body because I have never learned how to listen to it. Eventually, out of nowhere, a stress fracture formed. I searched for the shortest amount of time off because “healing” was a waste of time.

I minimized so many things until others have made me aware of the severity. I didn’t think that low blood pressure, rapid/slow heart rate, and chest pain was dangerous. I had to be informed and convinced it was a big deal because, to me, those things were only “serious for other people” and “my body can handle a lot”.

To me, when something wasn’t right, 1 day of rest was good enough and 2-3 was often too much.

 

So, from this situation I have learned that I am unaware of the parameters of my body and self-care. I have always “pushed through” so there was never a need to stop and assess myself. As I started recovery, I began to “feel” my body. I have become aware of how it becomes tired, sore, energetic etc. This was very different from anything that I’ve done before. I have learned my whole life to mentally block out everything and push through …. and now I have to feel it all. I have to feel the struggle of getting in shape and the difficulties of soreness from overworking my body.

I feel it when I’m not breathing correctly while running. I feel it when my muscles are tight. I feel it when my muscles need more oxygen. I feel it when I don’t have enough carbs to burn. I feel the weakness of my muscles as they are building. I now feel every second of every workout – and that is something I’ve never had to do before.

Knowing that I never had parameters for self-care leaves me constantly exploring. Although it’s uncharted territory, it will pay off in the end. Trial and error isn’t always fun (as I’ve proven with my cooking skills), but it will eventually pay off. I have to trust that what I notice is accurate and make positive self-care choices from there. It’s a journey! 🙂

 

Think about it. What is your self-care like? 

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