In 2005, I underwent my first ACL surgery. To say the very least, the surgery was UNSUCCESSFUL. Due to a doctor’s poor judgment, it took less than an hour for me to go from preparing for a half marathon to being bedridden and permanently disabled. I have spent every day, since, in pain.
The pain quickly became a constant reminder of how that doctor ruined me…ruined my life. The pain was all I could think about; it ruled me, it told me if and when I could do something. I had to get permission from it in order to get out of bed, stand, walk, or sit. It dictated what I ate (it loves junk food) and what I drank (it loves alcohol). It wedged itself into my relationships with family and friends. It didn’t take long for the pain to get tired of being alone and invite some friends over—their names were anger, depression, anxiety, fear, and regret. I tried to bury them with pain pills and fake smiles, but somehow, they would always seem to know where to find me, and I would lash out or recluse myself. Even my pride wanted to get in on the action, and was telling me that my pain makes me weak, my disability makes me vulnerable, and asking for help made me a target. I lost jobs, was forced to quit school, loss legal battles, and suffered major financial losses and that doctor was to blame for EVERYTHING…or so I thought.
The pain convinced me to allow myself to be poked, prodded, and experimented on in hopes of resurrecting the “old” me…the “whole” me. But with every failed attempt, came more anger towards that doctor. I couldn’t comprehend how that doctor could move on from what they did to me, all while never acknowledging my pain. I couldn’t accept my pain, disability, or emotions until someone else took responsibility for them. Years were passing by, yet I was stuck in 2005, still waking up in that recovery room trying to figure out what happened. I was living life as if I were in the movie “Groundhog Day,” in hopes, that maybe one day the outcome of that fateful hour would change. I was on the cusp of adulthood when that doctor altered my reality and I didn’t know how to accept it. I had goals, plans, and dreams, and I refused to bend them to accommodate my new physical limitations. I was trying to fix something that was meant for me to accept.
That doctor set me on a path that was unimaginable, but ultimately, I had to decide what direction I was going to take. After years of letting pain get the best of me, I decided that enough was enough! I had to choose to take control of the pain instead of allowing the pain to control me. In order for me to do so, I had to take responsibility for my emotionally-driven actions that followed that fateful hour. Yes, the pain was great, even felt unbearable at times, but the pain wasn’t the root issue, the pain was a symptom of something much deeper. I blamed that one hour of time for taking away my confidence, strength, and peace. But what I have grown to know is that those things were never strongly rooted within me, if all it took was less than an hour for them to disappear. I gave all of my power away to pain when I decided that it was okay to be angry and place blame on the doctor. I thought I could be healed by more procedures and physical therapy, but the real healing began when I took my power back—when I forgave that doctor and started choosing my emotions. Although the pain may never go away, it no longer has a stronghold over me, because I realize that no matter how I feel:
My life is MORE than the pain and I am STRONGER THAN I FEEL.