Because She Could, I Can

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If you were at Fitbloggin, chances are that you had a chance to meet the wonderful and amazing Janet Ober.  I've been following her on Twitter for a while as a casual acquaintance, I knew her name and her face, but I didn't know her story.  Imagine my surprise when I met her and noticed something a little different about this spunky blond with a huge smile:  (my dear Janet, I'm going to be blunt here -- anyone who knows me knows that sometimes my inquisitive nature doesn't have a filter and subsequently I can come off as insensitive, though it's not my intention) she looked like a shark had taken a big chunk out of her leg. 

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.

On the last day of Fitbloggin, we ran into each other in the lobby and said our goodbyes.  She asked me if I'd hold on so she could give me a copy of her book, "Because I Can:  doing what I can, with what I have, where I am."  I'm so glad she did.

Though we might have entirely different backgrounds and entirely different injuries, the process of recovery is remarkably similar.  I found myself (especially in chapters 10-11 ("A Hurricane and An Obituary" and "Mentors and Counselors," respectively) nodding in agreement and recognition with what she was saying and what was being said to her (pg. 179 "Allowing myself to write this sentence: I am disappointed about the losses I have. with a period at the end was a big step for me.  Before that when I'd mention my losses, I would quickly add something about being thankful for how well I was recovering.   I had not allowed myself to honestly admit my feelings of loss, because I thought doing so would mean I was an ungrateful person...")

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)


I've been battling certain injuries for 3 years now, but especially in the past few months. Thank you for this blog and especially that last quote from the book.


<3 I feel you.
I've been dealing with this off/on for 16 years or so. I've had to fight not only for my diagnosis, but for my cure. It's exhausting.


You are a dear!
It was so great connecting with you in person at Fitbloggin. Love your spunk, energy and directness. I don't mind the shark bite comment because that's what it looks like. Actually my boys tell me I should get sharks teeth tattooed around my injury.


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<3 Robby