Two years ago I returned home from a four-month ordeal that included major spinal surgery, that took away my ability to balance due to a growth on my spine that started out as a simple e-Coli infection that had a mind of its own.
When I got home, I was in a wheelchair and assumed that that chair and my bed would be where you could find me most of the time.
But one thing was stuck in my head. And it was some advice I got from one of the several physiotherapists who got me back on my feet. The advice was simply this. I had lost the physical ability to balance myself, but I had not lost the mental ability. So I can do anything I want providing I’m careful. And this is the key, I really believed, deep down that I could do whatever it was I set out to do.
And so, armed with a single piece of intellectual ammunition, I began my rehabilitation. None of the physios that I worked with believed I could not come through it and get back on my feet again, and all that did was strengthen my resolve.
After a year of physiotherapy and practice, my legs were strong enough to master stairs, and my walker. During the second year, my strength grew to the point where I could start walking with a cane, and really upped the number of lengths I could do in my pool to 60.
All the while I was only being powered by my belief that I could do this.
Before I got sick, I was a bike rider I rode to work for years, and rode at least 5 miles a day to do shopping and take pictures. So one of the things I really wanted to know was if I could get back on a bike again. I had written off the idea of a two-wheeler, but I reckoned a three-wheeler was entirely possible.
This past spring I got on my wife’s three-wheeler, and it felt like I was sitting on the end of a 2 x 4. And my balance was frightfully off. But
I just kept thinking about that as I got even stronger over the summer. Just last week, we got the bike out again, and I got my ass up on the seat and what do you know, it felt like I was actually sitting on a bike seat. And there was absolutely no swaying. So in the spring, we are going to find me a three-wheeled electric bike and I will be back in business.
So I have come from wheelchair and bed to being able to walk around the kitchen to put meals together, to walking all over the house with my cane, to swimming as many lengths as I used to before I got sick.
And all of this has happened simply because I believed I could do it.
And of course, I did all the work that was required.
Now I’m not writing this as a boast but as a piece of advice.
You are only as good as you think you are. You are only as capable as you believe you are. Your mind, your will, your internal drive is much more powerful than most people ever realize.
I realized it because I had to. And that realization has been the key to getting back to a life where, within two years, my wheelchair has been relegated to being my office chair. And everywhere else I go and everything else I do, I do with my cane, my walker, or even sometimes all on my own.
Nobody really knows yet all that the human brain and the spirit that makes work are capable of. My personal experience is that it can do a lot. It’s got me almost all of my life back. Think about what it can do for you. All you have to do is put your mind to it.