Last week I hit a significant personal milestone. In order to keep myself mobile and healthy, I ride a recumbent indoor bike — a lot! I used to ride over 100 miles a week. Riding my bike has kept me and my joints healthy. It’s also helped my mental health, as it gives me an outlet — and endorphins are good for you!
Two years ago I had a hysterectomy. It was a fairly involved surgery and it took me a while to recover. Hemophilia complicated my healing, as I needed 30 days of infusions to control postoperative bleeding. Many months passed before I was able to ride my bike again. When I got back on my bike, I had to slowly rebuild endurance. Last week, almost 28 months post surgery, was the first time I was able to ride over 100 miles. I did it! I got back to my pre-surgery level of activity. It took a long time!
I learned a lot during my journey of rebuilding physical endurance.
Personal victories matter
What is your personal victory? Everyone has different victories: Some are physical, like my last one, and others may be emotional. All are important to our well-being. We need to take the time to celebrate the small things. This is easy to forget. When we take a moment to recognize the improvements or gains we have made, no matter how small, we help motivate and propel ourselves toward the future.
When life is overwhelming, it can be hard to see how far we’ve come. It’s in these moments of struggle that we need to dig in the most and understand we are experiencing growth, even if it’s slow.
Healing after head injury
I have experienced this at other times in my life as well. When I was 24 I was in a car accident. The SUV I was driving was rear-ended by a 10-ton truck going 55 mph. Thankfully, I was in an SUV. It saved my life and limited my injuries, but I did sustain a mild traumatic brain injury that took years to heal. It was not easy.
After the head injury, all I could do was sleep. I could only work half days at my job as I could not stay awake to work longer. I would get up, go to work, take a nap, eat dinner, and go to bed … daily. I felt awful all the time. I had no good days. One week I noticed that there was one day when I felt a bit more normal. Then there was a day when I napped for less than four hours. I also had days when I stayed at work 10-15 minutes longer than before. My healing was shifting and I was having some better moments within my days.
As time went on I started having whole days that were good. I eventually had more good days than bad! Looking back on my journal entries showed how far I had come and gave me great reasons to celebrate. Understanding that I was slowly getting better helped motivate me to keep going.
Notice your progress
As a person living with a rare disease, it is important to see progress. I encourage individuals to look for the small victory in a day, or even in an hour. Could you take a phone call with no pain? Prepare your own meal? Walk a few steps farther than you could the day before? Everyone does not have to run a marathon or ride over 100 miles in a week. You walking to the mailbox at the end of your driveway may be more of an accomplishment than my riding over 100 miles.
Know yourself and remember to celebrate every moment you can. Compare yourself to you and not those around you. Give yourself a pat on the back for coming this far and continuing on in the healing journey.
You’ve got this!
Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.
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