‘When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny. /Paulo Coelho/
I had no idea what to write about in my blog, but LIFE ‘generously’ resolved my problem with a sudden knee injury. (Yeah! usually, injuries are not planned.) And as I had no other choice, I did not need a week to accept my destiny. So here I am, writing in my bed wearing a knee brace and happy if I do not have to move. For at least couple weeks my best friends are Rich and Mick, my 2 crutches, who support me to do the basic activities as I can not put weight on my left knee. But how did I end up here?
Warning if you have weak tummy and you easily can visualize what is written, skip the next paragraph!!
So here is how did it happen: Since 2010 I could proudly manage my life without any serious injuries. Till a Saturday when I invited my friend, J to join me to try out a jumping place with many many different trampolines as I have a passion for them!!! After a 15-minute fun-jump-laugh round as I jumped back from the wall and landed on my feet, I felt a sharp pain. I heard a crack and I thought my knee was gone, but –as I received the diagnose later – ‘only’ my kneecap dislocated and relocated. As an hour of resting and icing could not make me stand up, an ambulance took me to the nearest hospital, where X-ray showed ‘nothing serious’ (meaning no bleeding) so they discharged me with my two new friends. And here I am now…
But the ‘bloody details’ are not the reason why I have decided to write. Even if ‘nothing serious’ happened with my knee I could not stop not thinking. (My knee brace is here to remind me.) If you have read my blog posts before, you have already known that every story would like to reveal a nice lesson if we are ready to read between the lines.
So here are my thoughts triggered by my knee injury:
First of all,
I do not believe that illnesses or injuries are unlucky coincidences.
I do not believe that sickness or wounds are ‘medical misadventures’.
I do not believe that Life is playing a dirty game when we are injured or hurt.
But I DO believe that illnesses and injuries are messages for us. Like text messages sent by…
God/Destiny/Life/Universe, if you believe in one of those. I do. In my opinion, when we do not pay attention to our emotions, thoughts or the inner voice/intuition that keep saying that something is not on track or we should slow down and turn inwards, our body gets a message in a form of pain and we are not able not to pay attention anymore. Could you ever neglect pain? Not too many times I guess. Do you see what I mean?!
Ok. I will confess now. My first reaction – after my brain was not befogged by pain anymore – was denial. I could not believe that an accident could happen with me. It was just too surreal lying on a bed in an ambulance… Why? Why did I get this? I wanted to shout at the top my lungs!! Since then I still have my moments when I would like to rip off my knee brace and run. (No, not there yet.)
But would you accelerate when you got a red light? I feel I got a red light. Imagine yourself stuck in a traffic jam! How irritated we feel when we have to stop and wait?! But if you think further, red lights offer us a chance (and time) to stop and think. So I started to think about why I got this knee injury and what can I learn from it.
Here are the 5 insights I have learnt so far:
Firstly, I have learnt to slow down, simplify and reprioritise: My knee injury – apart from slowing me down physically – forced me to reprogram my mind (and set my limits lower). Everyday tasks (even a morning routine) are needed to be reprioritised and maybe skipped. Do not worry I have not skipped washing my teeth and the shower, but I have realized that when I am healthy I do many things just to keep myself busy.
Secondly, as I have slowed down I have learnt to pay more attention and be present. The London Public Transport system was my Yoda master. Yes. Have you ever used the London Public transport in rush hour on crutches? I did. After couple days of rest, I decided to try to commute to my workplace. As I was tumbling on my crutches slowly, I realized that people are just so lost in their mind and pay zero attention to others (Ok! Ok there are exceptions) that I have to be ‘double-alert’. As I have been paying more attention to people around me, keeping an eye contact with them, my mind has become more reflective and alert as usual, to keep my leg safe and in place, not to be kicked by other passengers.
Thirdly, with paying more attention and be present I started to appreciate the everyday miracles. For example miracle of connection and communication: My new slow pace has given the opportunity to connect with more people on my way. People have opened up easily sharing their stories about their injuries, experiences with me since I have been wearing the knee brace. Like that man, who giving a way on a narrow sidewalk passing by, only said: ‘God bless you and I will pray for you’. His words sounded so honest (usually I do not take ‘God bless you’ seriously as it is a commonly used phrased here, in the UK) that I turned back and I answered: ‘Please do’. And he shared with me that he understands my knee pain as he has titanium in his leg as a result of a car accident. What can I say for that?… A true moment of connection and we both kept going on our way in different directions.
Furthermore, every day I am more and more thankful. I give thanks for people. For the little kid, who hold the elevator door for me, for the old lady, who thought that I need more the seat than she did or for the taxi driver who picked me up for 400 meters FOR FREE so I did not have to tumble from the bus stop till our house. I am extremely thankful for the people who have been contributing to my healing or ‘just’ have been standing by me in many different ways. J came and stay with me in the hospital; my friend, A escorted me home from my workplace with her baby on my first work day; my mum was chasing doctors for me to have an appointment when I fly to Budapest; my flatmates, who have been doing the shopping and cleaning… just to mention couple examples.
And I am extremely thankful for MY BODY that I have taken for granted… Not anymore…
And last but not least my biggest lesson I have learnt from my knee injury is to reach out for help. For you maybe it is natural to ask for help. For me, it was not. I always thought that I am strong if I do not ask for help and I can ‘solve’ everything by myself. In my head, help meant a sign of weakness. But my knee taught me something different: I need more courage to say: I need help! Can you..?
I know it might sound strange, but after going through different phases (from denial to acceptance) I am thankful for my knee injury. I would not say I would do it again, but I have been trying to bring out the best of it.