Hope everyone had a wonderful Fourth of July! Mine was filled with running so it was pretty ExoSymplyAmazing!
I was asked by fellow Hanger Clinic ExoSym patient Liz Edwards, to write a post about how to deal with the “hard days”, because let’s be honest, with our injuries and conditions, we all face difficult days. It’s just a part of life. So whether you are just getting the device or you’ve had it for some time, I’d like to offer up some inspiration and advice for when you face setbacks, struggles or just a plain old rough day. In order to do this, I think it will help if I go back to the early days of receiving my device.
When I first got the ExoSym (about 2.5 years ago), it had been well over two years since I had walked without pain or really walked at all. While extremely challenging to see my life changing that quickly from my injury, it was also very disheartening to be that immobile & living in debilitating pain at such a young age. To get through those times, I always believed for better days, never losing hope. When I received the ExoSym in 2013, I, like many of you, not only had to re-learn to walk with a normal gait, but also how to use the device and develop skills to keep me moving forward. I talk about all the awesome days at the clinic, but I want you to know I, too, had training days where I pushed myself too hard and had to rest (if Jared’s ever told you to take it slow, that’s because of me… ☺). I had aches and pains because of how I had overcompensated for so long and I had forgotten how to walk normally. Because of my nerve condition, my leg is very sensitive to pressure changes and kind Ryan adjusted my device more times than I can count (so thankful for his patience!). At the end of the sessions, I would go back and rest in my hotel room at night and wake up and do it all again the next day. But guess what? I kept moving forward. Little by little, every day, I began to see progress. Ryan always told me to “trust the process” and he was right (/when is Ryan ever wrong?!). I’ll still never forget the day I ran for the first time at the clinic. That moment will live with me forever.
When I returned back home to Texas, I joined an outdoor boot camp to build on my core strength, started gradually running (I was really slow & had to walk a lot, but it didn’t matter to me, because I was moving!), and kept up my daily PT exercises. I started to see the ExoSym as an extension of myself – not just a device that I wore, but literally as my new leg and with that came the understanding that I needed to learn to be one with it. #weateam As an athlete, I know what it’s like to feel sore & tired and with the device you’re not only learning to walk/run again, but your body is learning to adapt & recover as well. With all the things I began to take part in again – walking, running, biking, jumping, etc, I had forgotten that my body had been dormant & overcompensating for the injury for the last several years and I realized that I really needed to remember how far I had come… and not forget to continue working on mobility and stretching exercises from the clinic and that is something I still take time to focus on today. (love my pink foam roller and green lacrosse ball — colors make it more fun I promise!) From there I gradually increased my stamina & endurance and kept “trusting the process.” Within a year I began training for an endurance multisport adventure, another year later a half marathon, then I jumped into CrossFit and more endurance events which is where I am today. And nowhere along this journey was it a straight line easy ride to the top. I had setbacks and I still do experience them, but I choose not to dwell on them, I keep moving forward.
What I’ve learned is that it’s okay to have hard days. The key is not to get discouraged, but instead keep looking forward. Keep looking up. Keep goals in your future and always have something to look forward to on the calendar – it will keep you motivated. I continue to stay focused with my mobility work & listen to my body and know when I’ve done too much and need to give it rest (well still working on that rest part haha…). I am active six out of seven days of the week working hard & living ExoSymplyAmazing, but it doesn’t mean life is a chocolate covered sprinkled cupcake. I have hard days too. It’s a learning process. It’s a mindset. I work really hard at my fitness & have accomplished some cool things & I do it because I love it, but I want you to know not every day is sunshine and rainbows. In life, in order to push yourself to new levels, you are going to face hard times, but you can’t let that deter you. There are going to be days when you have pain, your energy levels are low when you’re out for a run, your shoe breaks, people give you weird looks, or you may feel like you aren’t making as quick of progress as someone else, but it’s in those moments when you need to stop and take a moment and look back at how far YOU’VE come. Trust YOUR journey. Trust the process. Overcoming challenges reminds us we can keep moving forward, but hard days remind us of who we are. Never forget that you can do anything you set your mind to as long as you never give up.
Live strong my friends, believe in yourself and keep moving forward. ♥ #TeamExoSym
#beYOU #beAMAZING #ExoSymplyAMAZING
I will be fitted for my ExoSym July 11th I’ll be there until July 20th.
I haven’t walked without crutches, scooter or wheelchair for 3 years on July 27. But even before that for years I was in excruciating pain but afraid of the fusion surgery that they offered. I put it off for years while living and adapting my life around the limits my ankle/leg demanded. I used other braces and AFOS for the last 17 of those…
I know that relearning how to walk and trust in the process is going to be a learning curve. But I am so excited and ready not to mention perpared because of all of you here. I’ve been fighting to get my insurance to cover the ExoSym for 6 months. During that time I’ve had a fantastic physical therapist that watched all of the training videos that are available from Ryans team and read everything he could about the ExoSym and the training, to prepare me. So thankfully we have been working on core and hip strength to prepare for either outcome (ExoSym or Amputation) I feel so ready. But I still know I have years of bad habits therefore a learning curve to come.
Following the ExoSymplyAmazing blog and the Facebook page has been so uplifting! All of your journeys kept me fighting all this time. Without all of your stories I’m not sure that I could have otherwise. Not to mention friendships that have flourished. (I just can’t say thank you enough.)
It’s honest posts like you wrote above that makes me feel that it’s going to be okay to have those days.
I’m ready for the work. I know anything is possible because of ExoSymplyAmazing people!
Thank you so much, for keeping it real and motivating!
Hi Laura – Thanks so much for your comments. You have been through a lot and I am proud of you for not giving up. Keep on staying strong girl. We are all a team and we are here for you! To be ExoSymplyAmazing is to know what it means to live with a fighting spirit and that is you. XO
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Thank you for this post. I am at the beginning of this journey, and went for my first walk. A real outside walk, no strolling like I had done over the weekend. Well, it got cut short at 3/4 of a mile as I felt my body exhausting new muscles. I appreciate this insight to treat this as a journey. Looking forward to reading more as I learn what my body is now capable of doing and training it to do it well.
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Hi Katie, Thanks for your comment! That’s great that you were able to go for your first walk. ♥ Taking that first step to get out there is something to be proud of. This process is a journey. Keep moving forward my friend. There will be hard days, but it’s in those moments, that you realize how far you’ve come. #everydaystronger XO
I’m sitting in my room at the Wesley Inn with my foot on a pillow, wrapped in ice. I’ve been in pain since strapping my exosym on yesterday because my muscles have no idea what’s going on. It’s exciting but disheartening, and I’m so far from home (Sydney, Aus) and it’s cold (so cold) so I’m here trying to remind myself just how amazing it is that Im in the states getting to do this but I’ve felt a little frustrated and unable to engage with the usual positive feels – til I read this post.
I don’t normally comment on things but it’s important you know how much this you have helped on a particularly hard day. Thank you x