The power of words

That's right I didn't have a tripod handy, but it was an in the moment shot so one handed will have to do!
The last two years have been somewhat of a roller coaster of emotions, leading to some important stepping stones in my journey to health and fitness.

I don’t need to go into details but I will say I’ve had a physical disability, although technically it's a degenerative disease (so they say, I’m still learning) since about the age of 12. You can’t see my condition, to you or anyone else I look like a normal, healthy individual. I spent most of my teenage years fighting for acknowledgement and persistently being sent home from doctors or physiotherapists or even specialists saying that I was fine and nothing was wrong with me.

As a child I can tell you it left me with not only physical problems but emotional problems too. The continually medical rejection left me often thinking I must be making it up, that everyone thought I was a liar and convincing myself that maybe I even was a liar and I was fooling myself, or so desperate for attention that I was imagining pain that didn’t really exist, or even that this was just how everyone felt and I was just an attention seeker looking for someone to feel sorry for me.

As an adult I can reassure you that I don’t feel this way any longer but it was a real battle and for a long time I felt totally let down by the health system here in the UK. It was a large contributor to how I grew up, my confidence, and my self-image.

But finally after much pushing (now age 20++) and insistence to see further specialists I got my answer. I saw someone who acknowledged my condition and validated my feelings. It was a big part in my emotional journey into adulthood, but that’s a story for another day.

What I wanted to do was give you a brief background to lead to this. It's now been a steady two years of tests, scans, screens, injections, and on going treatment but just a few weeks ago I finally met with my surgeon for the first time. He was here to change my life – or so I thought.

It was my understanding that I was finally receiving surgery that would fix my condition, and put my body back to normal, pain free, and limber (or as much as your average Jo). I was excited to get the ball rolling and ask questions. This is the response I got that brought me to this post:

My Surgeon
“I don’t know how successful this will be. We might not be able to get rid of all your pain, but I’m fairly confident we can at least reduce it significantly.”

“That’s OK. I’ve had this pain a long time so I know I’ll be able to manage the pain, my main concern is that we can fix this, and so long as I’m fixed, I’ll get by with some pain.

My Surgeon
“Oh. No, I need to make something clear. This is not a “fix”. You have a degenerative disease so this is only going to decline, there’s nothing we can do about that. All this is, is Pain management surgery…”

That really set me back. I kept my composure for the rest of the session but I went home quite upset. The realisation that this would be my life…forever, was really hard to take. I thought I’d finally found a way out and just like that, my lifeline had been snatched away from me. I was honestly devastated. I spent a number of days feeling like this. I envisioned a gloomy future or disability and eventually immobility.

But this isn’t a sad story.

You see over those days I contemplated my situation and came to a very important realisation. I asked myself “so what’s actually changed?” If this is something I had before the appointment, and something I’m going to have for the rest of my life, him telling me hasn’t changed anything. That was always going to be. The only thing that’s really changed is that I finally know all the facts. I know where I stand.

I realised then that I had two ways I could look at what he’d said. I could feel sorry for myself for the life I thought I’d lost but in fact had never had, or, I could see the reality of what he was telling me. My pain, the most debilitating part of my condition was going to at minimum be vastly reduced and at best be gone! I might always have this condition but I could potentially go on to live the best life that is ever going to be possible for me.

Words can be incredibly powerful. Depending on how you use them and listen to them you can damage or bring hope to someone’s life.

This has been such a long journey for me, and this surgery will mark the beginning of a new chapter that could change everything.

I’m choosing hope.

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