Trying To Get Healthy? Take It Slowly.
2021 was a big year for me. After years of feeling stuck and unfulfilled in my professional life, I finally mustered enough courage and confidence to look for better opportunities. I was sending cover letters left and right, self-assured and eager to welcome a new chapter of abundance and growth.
Soon enough, I found a new client who paid well and seemed to genuinely like my work, and with no second thoughts, I took on the challenge of climbing a very steep learning curve to prove myself. I started on a Monday, and I sat in front of my computer for hours on end, writing and editing content about very niche topics that I knew next to nothing about.
It was difficult, but I was having fun and receiving positive feedback. I felt unstoppable — until my body stopped me.
On the following Wednesday morning, I woke up with the realization that my recurrent joint pain had decided to sneak up on me. I was also lightheaded from skipping dinner the night before. When I lost my balance and collapsed from dizziness outside my bathroom, I knew it wasn’t going to be a great day. The pain in my elbow was also impossible to ignore, and I could tell I wouldn’t be able to get any work done.
The new client was upset about me asking for time off after only two days of work and started asking questions about my medical history. Reluctantly, I gave him some information and reassured him that I had the means to manage my condition, and he eventually agreed that I should take the day to recover.
The pain was still there the next day, but I knew I couldn’t ask for more time off. So, I went back to work, doing my best to ignore the pain.
By Friday, I was noticing some back and hip pain on top of the pain in my elbow, something I also occasionally experienced and usually just managed with bed rest. Unfortunately for me, I had plenty of work to do, and I felt I needed to prove myself even more to make up for the bad impression I had left on my new client. I worked overtime to complete a task, squirming in my chair as I pushed through the pain.
I ended up spending the weekend unable to get out of bed, sobbing every time I had to limp to the bathroom as excruciating pain stabbed into my hip and radiated toward my knee. Meanwhile, my back muscles, which had been bearing the brunt of my weight as I tried to avoid the pain from my hip, would spasm if I made one wrong move.
I was used to being in pain, but this was the worst pain I had ever experienced. Its pleas for rest and attention constantly unheeded, my body had finally reached its limit.
2A Painful Haze
The following week, my cousin visited me and made sure I had everything I needed, and eventually took me to the hospital as soon as I was able to get out of bed.
It was still too painful to walk any more than a few steps, and I had to use a wheelchair for the first time in my life. I saw two different doctors, got prescribed all sorts of pain medications, and went through two harrowing MRIs that left me in tears as I was unable to stay still in one position without excruciating pain.
Both doctors suspected that the cause could have been trauma from when I collapsed outside my bathroom, even though a pile of laundry had cushioned my fall and I remember being able to catch most of my weight.
I knew that my sedentary lifestyle had a lot to do with all the pain I had been enduring for so long. Stuck in a vicious cycle, I was overweight and unable to exercise due to recurrent pain from bad joints that needed movement to get better.
Following my doctor’s advice, I started physical therapy to treat the pain and get my joints used to movement again. In the painful haze of those several weeks, I resolved to never leave myself vulnerable to that kind of suffering ever again.
3A Wake-up Call
I had to end my relationship with the new client, and while I was very disappointed for some time, I now choose not to have any regrets about it. No job is worth getting sick over.
When you don’t listen to your body, it eventually forces you to. I thought I was unstoppable, but only because I was ignoring the alarms that my body had been trying to send me for a very long time. It was a weeks-long wake up call that led me to begin seriously looking after my health.
I am far from my healthiest and I still have days of bad pain, but I am making better decisions for my well-being much more often than I used to. I listen to my body more carefully now. I make it a point to stretch and rest as soon as I feel any pain. When my pain reaches a certain level, I no longer push through it. Instead, I honor my body and give myself permission to recover.
It’s amazing how much our bodies are capable of, no matter how imperfect they are. My body is almost always in pain, but I understand now that this is its way of communicating with me. I respond to it now by making healthier choices. I slow down. I plan my days around its needs. I stop for rest so I can keep moving forward.