Last year outings somehow became this word I use, and now it’s ridiculously ingrained in my vocabulary and, actually, in my recovery.
I had completed the pain clinic and learned so much, and essentially got it that this thing I had called “my injury that wouldn’t heal” was chronic pain.
Having wrist tendinitis had made using crutches more difficult. Before that I would go about my day like a normal person but use crutches for like 3/4 of the day. I did this for 2 1/2 years because nothing had helped. I had the biggest most impressive lats. The physical therapist wanted me to give those crutches up, which I so desperately wanted to do but didn’t know how. The answer was pacing, which was totally new to me. This is also when I stopped working to heal and focus on my health.
I would go out to one appointment, clinic group, or coffee or a meal with a friend, with my crutches always hiding in the back of my car as an emergency backup plan. I would come home after and rest and bring the pain down using my new tools. Just the walking I did around the house for the rest of the day was enough to pace myself.
It became one “outing” a day as my goal. I had my wedding in 6 months so the outings were fun- go get my wedding make up run through, come home and rest. Go get a dress fitting, come home and rest. I improved and got up to 3 “outings” a day. It was really one outing and 2 mini outings like going to buy oil for my car and get coffee, but I felt like I was on fire.
My other knee developed an issue because everything was changing. It became more of a problem and took about 4-6 months to get better. Also during this time oddly enough I injured my elbow. As both healed, outings were much harder. Also driving sucked. My outings plummeted and I spent a lot of time at home. I think this time contributed most to my physical deconditioning, developing myofascial pain and to my mentality of disability and feelings of depression.
But now I’m in a new chapter, where I’ve just about worked back up to one outing a day, and am driving like a champ. I’ve started seeing a therapist and also taking medication for the myofascial pain. I’m back at the pain clinic as regularly as I can.
And, drum roll please… yesterday I technically did 3 outings! They were a fun odd combination: DMV to get my name changed- I did use the wheelchair for this. Breakfast for my husbands birthday. I came home and rested for a few hours and then went to the clinic group. It felt like a miracle I felt good enough to go to the clinic.
I’ve finally thrown away my crutches, which I did ceremoniously on my birthday this past year. 3 1/2 years since my injury.No crutches hiding in my car or closet. When I wonder if I’ve improved, because I’ve had such ups and downs, this is actually something huge.
So more outings are my goal, and actually they feel like my lifeline to getting better in all ways. They’re sort of like my medicine. Getting out of the house expands and changes my thinking, gives me stimulation and enriches my brain, gives me motivation, brings back coordination and challenges, closes the “pain gates,” brings down my isolation, and basically just helps me redevelop my identity. Beyond more outings, my goal is to not think about outings but just fluidly live my life.
I often wonder how I got here from a healthy, strong person 5 years ago, but the only choice is to move forward and keep learning and pushing myself to get healthy and strong again, one little outing at a time.