2020 | 0 - Remember Who You Fucking Are

2019 was a rough year for me. Every time I turned around, I was getting kicked in the fucking teeth. It didn't matter if the news was positive or negative, it was always fucking heavy. The company I'd worked for for 7 years sold itself and immediately laid off entire teams - teams I'd trained and helped grow in their jobs. I eventually left that job for one more in line with my goals - I went from a desk to a warehouse, tossing tons of freight every day. I finally got back in touch with a child I hadn't seen or heard much about after a decade. The year would see friends die, friendships end, and me pulled in every direction except the one I wanted to go in. Through the first half of it, I mostly kept my eye on my goals and persevered. The second half got a little rocky, but I was still mostly on point, even with kids in school fucking up my schedule and a new year and new challenges for them derailing many of my plans. (I'd been looking forward to school so I had more time to focus on my own shit, but that didn't happen.) In October, I'd find myself sidelined.

One day as I was doing my job - and doing a damn fine job - I heard someone call out "look out!" I looked out. I got my head up just in time to not have it caved in by what was coming. A couple tons of force hit me square in the chest and pinned me to a steel rack. Through the adrenaline of the moment, though, I felt no pain and I went right back to work after filling out the necessary paperwork. About an hour later I was headed home, my chest, shoulders, and back all screaming in pain. I took the next two weeks off and took it easy, hoping I'd recover on my own. Nothing felt broken, and I technically could still do everything I enjoyed. It just hurt like Hell. Three weeks after the incident, I finally went to see a doctor. It would be another two months of excruciating pain before I discovered what was actually wrong with me.

During those two months, I'd stopped doing everything. I quit working out, I was on light duty at work, and I spent my entire off-time sitting on a couch and avoiding exertion out of fear that I'd seriously fuck up my back - if I hadn't already. The frustration - and the fear - made me forget who the fuck I am. Eventually, they'd get me into an MRI machine to diagnose exactly what was causing the increasingly agonizing pain I was in. The results showed spinal arthritis and several disc hernias that would push against nerves with increasing pressure as the day wore on. I've grown up with all kinds of horror stories about arthritis. I had an uncle whose hands were permanently cramped in what looked like it must have been a painful position, and they'd been like that from a young age. The pain (and I have to assume other things) would eventually lead to his suicide. The hernias, at least, heal with treatment, though they may require surgery.

At first, this diagnosis only deepened my depression and my anger. I yelled into the metal blaring from the speakers of my car. I cried, at first believing that everything I'd been working towards for two years had just exploded in my face, all because of a single piece of malfunctioning equipment. I was absolutely crushed, and began to resign myself to a life of pain, sitting hunched over a desk bored out of my mind for the remainder of my professional life.

I forgot who the fuck I am.

That wouldn't last long after the diagnosis. Instead of giving up, I went home and researched my new conditions. Turns out hernias aren't incurable - they often heal on their own. While they are currently excruciatingly painful, it is possible, with care and diligence, that they will heal and that pain will fade. The arthritis, given that it's in my spine is a different story. Arthritis is pretty much a chronic condition, and I can expect that it will hurt to varying degrees for the rest of my life. But even that pain can be managed to one degree or another, which will make life easier than it could be given the inflammation in my spine. This new information heartened me, and even though I couldn't work out the way I wanted to, I could still do something. I've thrown myself into my physical therapy, even though I'm not allowed to lift more than 12 lb plates. I discovered that while I can't do strength training at the intensity that I was doing it, I can do yoga and I can even do limited calisthenics. I haven't worked out in more than two months at this point, but at least now I have a baseline where I can safely start again. I started my week out in a pretty fucking dark place, but I refused to give in. By giving myself some time to digest the information and to learn more about what was in front of me, I remembered who the fuck I am.

When life throws shit your way - even if it's a lot of shit - avoid getting buried in the shit and forgetting who you are and what you're about. Stand tall, roll your shoulders back, and remember who the fuck you are. Life is war, and the war isn't over until you're six feet deep.


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