by Amanda Rego
from Giving the Glory
A year ago I traveled to a foreign country and had my leg sliced open. A 5″ purple scar remains, serving as a reminder of just how far I had to go to finally run pain-free again.
It’s hard to believe that a year has already flown by since my hamstring surgery in Finland. It’s amazing how much your life can change in just one year. This time last year they rolled me out of the hospital on a stretcher. I couldn’t sit for the next month or attempt running for several months.
Now twelve months later, I’m happy to say I’m running again, and faster than my leg has let me for the past 3.5 years! I put track spikes on for the first time last week, I hiked my first 14-er this year, ran my first cross country race in five years and I’m almost back to my usual training volume. No, things still aren’t perfect, and I can’t say I’m 100% pain-free (mostly because of compensation issues,) but at least things are “better than they’ve been,” and for that reason I’m feeling incredibly grateful!That being said, these last twelve months have certainly not been easy. I’ve written about the highs, and the low points. After years of riding this “emotional roller coaster” that comes along with being chronically injured, I wanted to take a moment and reflect a bit on what this past year has taught me.
“FIND A WAY”
The night before my surgery as I was lying in bed I heard a voice speak to me from deep within saying three words, “Find a way.” It was one of those moments when you know you’ve just heard something profound, but you don’t know what it means at the time. Since I had a feeling God was trying to tell me someting I wrote it down in my prayer journal and went to sleep.
Those three words have stuck with me over the past year, and have actually come to be quite meaningful. You see, a lot of times in life we think we’ve “figured it out.” When I went into surgery I was certain I finally found “the answer” to all of my problems. I was looking at it all so objectively. One incision, 6-months of rehab, and voilà! All of my problems would be gone. Oh, how often that is not how life goes! Instead, my recovery went a little slower than I hoped because I had several other compensation related pains which held me back. Not to mention, the deep dark hole of depression I started falling into when things weren’t going well. Over and over again life forced me to remember these three words: FIND A WAY.
Now I’m a big believer in having faith and holding onto hope, but sometimes I believe God gives us challenges and waits to see how we respond to them rather than simply swooping down and solving all of our problems. Sometimes that means we try and fail, and spend time searching for answers until we “find a way.” Real faith requires action; like getting the guts to talk to a psychologist when you’re struggling mentally, or being willing to do hours of mindless rehab, or finding a way to be more positive. As much as it’s been super frustrating having to deal with high hamstring pain for four years, the one invaluable lesson it’s taught me is that life isn’t linear, and it isn’t always pretty. You can sit on your butt and wait for your problems to disappear, for the answers to magically appear, or you can choose to stop waiting around and find a way to move forward.
In a lot of ways, my surgery in Finland was a perfect example of what it means to find a way. I mean, it’s not exactly common to fly to the other side of the world for a rare operation. Yet, pain drives us to do the craziest of things, and when you want something bad enough its amazing what the human mind becomes willing to do.
A lot of people ask me, “Was it worth it? Did the surgery fix you?” –to that I’d have to say “yes” it was worth it, but the surgery itself was just one step I had to take towards “finding a way” to pain free running. With any surgery, a lot of people neglect to consider all of the struggles you’ll face between going under the knife and getting back to where you want to be. Dealing with the secondary injuries, the emotional struggles, experiencing a lack of faith and feeling less fit than you’ve ever felt–those are the real battles.
While I’m incredibly happy just to be able to do what I love again, I know there will always be obstacles ahead. Regardless of the obstacles I currently face, or will face in the future; I’ll keep on doing mybest to find a way forward. And for anyone out there struggling with an injury right now, just remember that there is hope! Like I said, a year ago I was completely immobile, being wheeled around on a stretcher. If you want something bad enough—You’ll find a way!
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12