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How Changing My Routine Helped During Recovery After Surgery

July 16, 2018 marked eight months post tibia/fibula “break” surgery. I spent the first month in the hospital away from home and school, with doctors telling me I wouldn’t be able to crawl again and they didn’t know when I’d walk. I felt helpless. I hoped this surgery would improve my abilities, but I was scared what doctors were telling me after the fact meant for my future. Crawling and walking with a walker was my whole world for as long as I could remember. Even though I defy odds every day, how could I learn to adapt to something I’ve never dealt with before and had little to no guidance about? It has definitely been tough. By no means does what happened in July “fix” my disability or make my situation easier, but it gives me hope and pride that I’ve been able to overcome and find my strength once again.

People often ask me how I get through such difficult situations. Honestly, I’m human, so I sometimes cry until I have no energy left like everyone else. There were times in the hospital when I cried; I talked about how I was missing home, how things used to be and how I felt it wasn’t fair not to know what the future held. I’d “feel better” then cry five minutes later while watching home renovation shows. I sometimes still cry over the smallest struggles because they remind me that the big picture isn’t solved yet, but I have learned to cry, get up and carry on.

One of the easiest ways I’ve found to deal with my struggles and stay positive is to change up the routine. Yes, I need to go to physical therapy and eat ice cream for bone healing (doctor says so), but after almost a year at this point, the same routine gets too routine. In these situations, you may feel like you’re not trying as hard as you should even though you’re doing exactly what you should. It’s important to realize when your routine is too routine, so you don’t give up altogether. Breaking routines can also open your eyes and surprise you with how far you’ve come and how far you can go.

In July, instead of going straight to school work or physical therapy and having lunch downstairs or going to get lunch at a restaurant in my wheelchair, I decided to walk the mall food court. Walking the mall food court helped me take a much-needed break from feeling the pressure of what I “had” to do in order to have a successful day. Although I still ate ice cream and did physical therapy by walking, I found a way to change my routine.

I also didn’t limit myself on how much I could accomplish. Physical therapy is great and needed for many reasons, but I usually can only make myself walk five laps around the building. In the food court, I walked without feeling the pressure of not doing enough or too much. I accomplished what I wanted to and then some. I walked with the flow of traffic instead of feeling like an outsider. I gave my friend a hug and she whispered she loved me at shoulder level. July 16 was a day I thought would never be possible again, but it made me appreciate time you can’t always capture in a photo.

My leg surgery may not be what I expected, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to appreciate things in a way I never could before. When things don’t turn out the way you think, change your routine and see how things may turn out even better.

Getty image by SbyTovaMN.