A physical injury requires us to slow down and put in the effort and discipline to recover. 8 life lessons we can take away from an injury.
It Starts Small
This summer I experienced some discomfort in my leg, lower back and hip. It wasn’t really painful, but it was bothersome when driving, walking or trying to sleep on my side.
Then, one Saturday, part of my leg went numb. And scared the bejeebers out of me.
I expected the worst; a pinched nerve with a long recovery and lifting restrictions.
How on earthy can I be a stay-at-home mama and not be able to lift the kids?
Scared Into Submission
An urgent care and chiropractic visit later, I received a diagnosis. Imagine my surprise and joy – yes JOY – to receive news that it wasn’t my back at all. Rather, the numbness is caused by Trochanteric bursitis. A much better recovery and outlook than a spinal injury.
Wait a minute.
Isn’t hip bursitis for old people?
Apparently not. And I should have recognized the symptoms, because I’ve had it not once, but twice before. Numbness, however, was a new symptom and an indication of increasing severity.
I spent much of the summer in recovery. Less walking. No running. Lots of ice. Stretching. Yoga. And more stretching.
Bursitis forced me to slow down. A LOT.
Have you experienced an injury? If so, you know that slowing down isn’t always easy. We like to do all the things. And we don’t like asking for help.
Those of us who aren’t used to slowing down have some learning to do. And having an injury can force us to take a look at those life lessons.
8 Life Lessons We Can Take Away From An Injury
1. Tolerating pain is not always a good thing
Our culture demands toughness. Also, a high pain tolerance and the ability to continue through pain is considered a badge of honor.
However, when it comes to my hip, tolerance for pain is nothing but detrimental. Carrying on while ignoring discomfort simple causes more damage.
As I ‘muscled’ through it, inflammation increased to the point of pressing on a nerve, causing numbness. With bursitis, such negligence leads to permanent damage, cortisone shots, and eventual hip replacement.
We only have one body. How is your body feeling? We all could benefit from taking a moment to be aware of what our bodies are telling me.
2. Not all exercise is created equal
A person with a history of bursitis can run and walk for exercise, but must have increased attentiveness to stretching and flexibility.
Other exercises like yoga and swimming are a better option.
If you’ve had an injury, it might be time to mix it up a bit. This is also a great time to try something new, maybe something you’ve been afraid to try. Take a beginners yoga class, spin class or find a friend and giggle your way through a video workout.
3. Accepting help is a necessary discipline
Before we knew what was wrong, my husband and mom stepped in to help lift things. When my mom offered to go to the grocery with me, I wondered, Why? Grocery shopping seems pretty tame. But when paying attention to what I was doing, I was surprised by how much a back is used while grocery shopping. To load a cart, you need to bend, stretch, reach, lift, and push.
I was especially grateful when she lifted our daughter in and out of the cart and car seat, as she helped our son climb in and out of the cart, and as she helped lift bags into the car and into the house.
While it was hard for me to admit I needed help with what seemed to be a simple task, the help was invaluable and appreciated.
Asking for and accepting help is less about admitting weakness and more about exercising wisdom.
How are you at asking for help? When people offer, do you accept it? This is a skill we all need, even when we aren’t recovering from an injury.
4. Doing less requires creativity and patience
When you can’t lift, you need to be creative.
Convincing our children to climb the stairs at night sometimes requires us to make a game of it. And we discovered our son can climb into the cart if we park by the cart rack. He thinks it’s pretty cool to climb up the metal rack into the cart. Our daughter can climb out of her car seat on her own if I unbuckle her and wait an extra minute or two. It may be faster to carry them, but it sure isn’t easy on the body if you’re trying to heal.
If you’re a mom, your kids can do more than you think they can. Get creative. Try asking your child to climb up, step down, and take some of the load off of your back. It will take more time. But it will help you recover faster, and will give your children added independence and self confidence as they accomplish things neither of you knew they could do!
5. Numbness was a blessing and warning
As I mentioned before, I was generally ignoring my symptoms before my leg went numb. If my leg had not gone numb, I’m not sure how long it would have taken me to address the underlying issue, allowing further damage to take place.
Our symptoms matter. For me, numbness was a warning of future escalation and the need to address the problem now. What symptom do you have right now? It is a blessing, alerting you to a problem, and a warning. Don’t ignore it.
6. Persistance matters
Even when feeling good, I need to stretch and do the preventative exercises. Routine. Stretching takes time and I now have to be intentional to make time to do it. The IT band
exercise pulverization with a foam roller hurts. I feel bruised afterwards, but the benefit is worth it. The roller has a drastic effect on hip pain and discomfort. Whether I like it or not, it is effective and is required in my daily routine from here on out. When I am consistent in stretching and rolling, I feel great. Then I can walk, jog and lift as I please. WORTH it.
What therapy do you need to continue and persist in? Are you still doing the exercises you need to do? Persevere! Your body will thank you.
7. Knowledge is power
My chiropractor wanted to know if our family has a history of hip replacements. We don’t. Know what I don’t want to think about at 33? Bursitis and hip replacements. But I DO want to know about something that can be prevented by changing my lifestyle NOW.
After the first 2 rounds of bursitis, I should have permanently incorporated stretching in BOTH legs. But when I felt good, I slacked off and ended up paying for it with a numb leg and forced rest. Honestly, I needed some tough love and to have someone explain to me the long-term hard truth.
I am grateful for a very honest chiropractor who was willing to be clear that neglect will have lasting consequences.
What truth have you been told? Maybe it’s not an injury, but related to blood sugar, weight, or stress. What knowledge have you been given that you need to take action on?
NO matter how annoying it was to have numbness, limited movement, and make extra time to stretch, I am so grateful the problem was just bursitis. A back injury would have been much worse.
Recovery from an injury builds necessary self discipline into our lives.
It makes me get out of bed so I have time to stretch before the kids get up. Plus, since I now start my day on the floor stretching, it gives me time to read my bible and pray before I get up. What else am I going to do down there on the floor? I am grateful to know what the problem is, and how to prevent further flare-ups. And I’m grateful that all the stretching and slow moving this summer has paid off with a pain-free hip this fall.
What lessons have you learned through injury?