Like all of you, I got sick to my stomach when I saw Kevin Ware’s horrific accident. He has a long road of rehabilitation in front of him. I know because a couple of years back I had terrible accident myself which I tore ligaments on three sides of my ankle.I’m not saying what happened to me was as awful as his experience. It wasn’t. I’m sure I felt no where the pain he did when he broke his leg. However, what I am comparing is the great adversity we both faced when faced with the challenge of overcoming a devastating injury.
During a short period of my life, I used to be addicted to long distance running. After running a half marathon, my legs were tired, but I still went to run with a bunch of friends the next day. When stretching, some of the guys were single leg jumping over a bunch of boxes. I shouldn’t have participated because my legs were hurting, but I couldn’t resist the temptation to show off my single leg jumping skills. I missed and landed very awkwardly on my right ankle. It was so painful that I had to be carried out to my carried to a car where I was taken to an emergency room. The doctor told me that I tore ligaments on three sides of the ankle and it would have been better if I would have broken the bone instead. That comment didn’t make me feel even better and just made me more like a stupid idiot for what I did. But, the pain was nothing compared to the bad news when the doctor said it would probably be at least 6 months before I would be run again. I fell into a deep depression after that. Seriously, running was my life at this time and thought of not being able to do it for months sent more over the deep end.
To fight the overbearing sadness, I focused all my energy to rehabbing my ankle. I was so fixated to getting back to running that I religiously went to all my therapy sessions and worked my ass off to do just the simplest things like rotating my ankle without grimacing. I would pester and bug the shit out of my physical therapist by getting there early and leaving late, always with a bunch of questions that I got from reading my Internet rehabilitation articles. I’m sure everybody at the rehab hated me and as I was probably very annoying. When that didn’t feel like enough, I went home and did more research.
My physical therapist warned me that I could relapse by overworking my ankle, but I always felt like I could do just little more. Throughout the day, when I felt my ankle was rested, I would sneak in a stretch or mobility drill here and there at my work or if was just standing around in line at the market. I got so good at it, I could have a conversation with somebody while they were completely oblivious to me secretly doing some sort of rehabilitating drill. My determination led me to overachieved whenever I found the opportunity to do something during my awaking hours.
I was back running in six weeks, 5 months ahead of schedule.
The injury was very painful and an extremely frustrating period in my life. I wasn’t exaggerating went I went into a depression, especially during the beginning of therapy when I had serious doubts that I would ever be at hundred percent again with my running skills. But, I persevered and plowed ahead with my singular goal of running again. In retrospect, the agony I went through gave me a lifelong lesson. I wouldn’t trade this low period in my life for anything. Without sounding like a cliché those weeks taught me that I could overcome any setback in my life, if I commit to the putting the effort behind it. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was probably one of the pivotal points in my life that lead me to my fascination with mental toughness development. In my personal life, it’s one of the best examples of how one can benefit from turning an adversity around and making is something meaningful and positive.
When you progress with your mental toughness progress, you will experience many empowering moments like this. And more importantly, you will become stronger and braver because of it.
(End of part 1)