I felt really bad for not realizing this about her before we had met, so I jumped on my smartphone and immediately looked up her Web site and then her story began to unfold before me. Without having to say a word, I knew she understood and felt all the feelings I had about being injured and broken, I knew she understood the rollercoaster ride when one recovers from an injury. She knew what it's like to live with pain and restriction.
Our two messages seemed to belong to each other -- #GoTheDist Why? Because I Can.
It's hard to explain injuries and chronic pain to people -- some people think that just because you're not bleeding out, confined to a bed, or buttressed with metal that you're okay . That couldn't be farther from the truth (pg. 156 "Yes, I might have survived the trauma, but daily life was kicking my butt. It was not looking like I thought it should. The constant pain and low energy levels were wearing me out."). Once the acute issues are handled, there are so many other issues that come up--about learning how to live with your injury versus letting your injury run your life, how to grieve for the loss of the life and body you wanted and the things you might not ever do again, and how to forgive the causes for the injury as much as the injury itself.
While hugging her, I told Janet that she was the light at the end of my tunnel, telling me that I can get through this. I meant every word and I am so thankful to have read her memoir. I wasn't left with pity or sadness for her (or for myself), but a very strong sense that somewhere in Pennsylvania was this amazing woman who knew my pain and didn't need me to tell her every detail to be able to tell me I'd survive it.
So go and read her book and be inspired to "Bloom where [you are] planted."
NB: One thing her doctor said to her really stuck with me: "Our bodies protect themselves by giving us pain signals when something is not working properly. ... Your body has been beaten up, but you've done what you needed to help it recover well. Trust yourself—you know your body better than anyone else. Don't allow what others have said to hold you back." (pg. 266, Dr. Tuckman)