Never Lose Hope

Recently, I approached Apeksha about writing a guest post for her site, because I believe that I’ve got a story to tell that fits right in on her site. I know that many of you are used to logging for a daily quote to keep you motivated at work or while training, and too read about athleticism, sport, motivation, and the success that can be achieved when those three factors are brought together in rare perfect harmony.

My name’s John and I just started to write recently, after I broke my neck wrestling. During one of the final tournaments of my career and after competing for almost 4 years without a single major injury, I shattered my spine.

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It was the quote in the article: “Thank You Roger Federer – A Letter to the Champion.” that resonated especially deeply with me.

Success is not measured by what you accomplish, but by the opposition you have encountered, and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds.

Orison Swett Marden said this, and I believe that this is very deeply and profoundly correct. Right now, I’m more proud of what I can achieve than I ever have been in my entire life, despite the fact that I’m the weakest that I have been since I was 8 years old. I’m proud because I am successfully by Orison Marden’s definition, because I have progressed so much since my accident. 6 weeks ago, I was unable to move my toes, raise my arms, or feel my legs because of the trauma to my nervous system.

Now, I can ride a bicycle, lift weights, and even go to school as a full time student. I write about my progress on my blog, but I decided that simply talking about what I was doing wasn’t enough. Now, I’ve made it my goal to be as supportive and informative to people with similar traumas to mine, and those who have suffered much more greatly than I have.

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Just like Apeksha learned lessons from Roger Federer, I have learned from my injury. These lessons are:

When you are depressed, friends will help you,
When you are weak, you will find the drive to push on,
When you have lost hope, hope will find you,
Never doubt the strength of the human spirit.

It’s been an honor writing for the site. I’m a big fan and this has been really exciting for me.Please read and share this story with everyone who has lost hope and tell them about my journey and hopefully if they can learn one thing from my experience – Never lose hope.

You can check me out and follow my recovery process at GoandDoit.wordpress.com and in a few months read all about his adventures: running, biking, and motivating others to do the same.

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Getting Out of My Neck Brace

I visited my doctor today, and I finally got permission to stop using my neck brace. Until you have had your neck constricted for almost two months and then released, you don’t know how good you can feel. I think that the resident described by expression as “beaming”.
I’ve been working with the incredible staff at the UW Sports Medicine clinic.

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Not only does UW have some of the best doctors in the world, but their sports medicine clinic on science drive has a fantastic state of the art indoor gym where people can go to rehab and work one on one with therapists and trainers, or even just sign up for a membership for and work out there just like they can at the YMCA.

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My doctor said that the X-ray looked good. Honestly, I think that he was a little surprised, because a majority of the anterior cervical diskectomy and fusion procedures that he performs are on less than ideal surgical candidates, who often times have degenerative disk or bone diseases that need to be treated with a fusion.

Taking my neck brace off for the first time was a little scary. I was excited, but I was also a little nervous that I would do something to hurt myself if I moved too much, or really moved at all.

20130220-174146.jpg Right now, my neck is noticeably skinnier than it was before I had the neck brace on, because I haven’t really used the muscles at all for 6 weeks. In the coming days, I’ll of course become more comfortable, and increase my range of motion much more.

So there you have it. The doctors put in 4 screws and a plate, of which you can see the X-ray below:

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To be honest, I’m not sure yet if I’ll set off metal detectors, but I’m not quite sure what will happen if I do. I guess a trip down to my local courthouse is in order to test that out (kidding, kidding. Don’t worry, I would never waste the time of the bailiffs, who already have a vital role in the speed, efficiency, and safety of our judicial system).

The Importance of Rest (aka, your excuse to take a nap)

All over my site, I espouse the benefits of sticking with a physical therapy regimen and how much of a difference it will make on your fitness and overall physical and mental well-being. The other end of the fitness commitment spectrum from slacking off and not trying hard enough is trying too hard, and putting in too much time and effort.

“But John!” you say. “Haven’t you said over and over that you need to dedicate yourself 110% to your recovery, and that you should work as hard as you can?”

Well, yes. However, working as hard as you can and dedicating yourself 110% to your recovery process are very different from overworking yourself. Part of Having an optimal recovery plan is having optimal rest. It might seem cray or even counterintuitive to some, but it’s not out of line and not even uncommon to be sleeping upwards of 16 or even 18 hours per day when your body is trying to heal.

Why do you need to sleep so much? Your body does most of its work repairing tissue, muscle, and bone damage as well as growing new cells to replace old ones while you sleep. When you exercise vigorously or have a serious injury to recover from, your body signals that you need to sleep so that it can adequately repair itself. After my accident, I slept or rested almost nonstop for the first two weeks. I didn’t do this because I’m lazy (I’m not saying I’m not); I did this because it was the best thing I could do for myself.

During your recovery process, don’t ever forget how important it is to rest. Resting is on equal footing with your physical therapy, and if you forget the importance of rest and don’t sleep enough your physical therapy won’t be able to have as great an effect as it could if you had properly given your body everything that it needed to heal.