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Adversity is the greatest Teacher

It’s already been 120 days since my surgery. Time sure flies by. It seems just like yesterday that I was in my Doctor’s office, where he informed me that I have an inguinal hernia. Three short weeks later, I found myself on the operating table. It was a pleasant surprise to see how quickly they moved on my behalf. I have Aetna and the health network worked seamlessly and quickly for me. Everyone was great!

When I first woke up from surgery, I remember feeling groggy. Even though the pain was not that bad, the doctors had given me a couple of pain killers. I was in chat rooms and listening to other people and they made it sound much worse then it actually was. The next day I wanted to get up and walk around. My wife would not let me, obviously, so I was stuck in bed.  Luckily it was a Friday. I could work remotely and go back to work on Monday.

I had to learn to roll to get out of bed or out of a chair, as any abdominal movement caused some pain. Even that was not too bad. The hardest part for me was that I could not lift any weight for 6 weeks. My doctor said I could start running in 2 weeks. Well, more like a slow jog. What was I going to do in the meantime? I decided that I would eat clean and watch my diet. So, I re-focused my OCD energy into eating clean.

Once I made it to week three, I started to jog. My doctor limited me to a double digit pace. (Before surgery, I was close to a 7:30 pace. Now it has to be 10:00.) It took mental discipline to stay slow. I created a plan to lower it 30 seconds per week, week over week. Small wins would suffice. 

Week six came fast, and I finally started some weight training. Using just the bar, I did some overhead presses, some squats, and body weight movements. My gameplay was three sessions of light weight with reasonable build up.

Then it happened. I made it to week seven! My workout buddy looked at me and said, “you ready?” Ugh! I looked at him, paused, and replied, “Hell Yeah!” It was a typical Saturday morning “partner workout” and my partner is usually a 22-year-old who is prepping for BUD/S. (BUD/S stands for Basic Underwater Demolition / SEAL – the toughest military training in the world.)

My workout partner is the most fit person in class and likes to win the workout. Our workout starts with a 400 meter run (which is actually 430 meters). I threw down the gauntlet and said, “let me go first.” It was a good thing I was running and dieting. I came in first at 1:30 on the run. We were gonna crush this workout! Not only am I seven weeks out of surgery, but I am a 46-year-old who is crushing 20 year olds. One guy says, “Damn. You’re fast.” I felt good.

Shortly thereafter, I began moving up to full speed. I kept my max lifts at 70%. Today, 120 days after surgery, I am at about 90% of my max. Honestly, I don’t think I will attempt real heavy lifting any time soon.

The whole process of recovery went great. I re-prioritized my goals. I challenged myself to be more patient and set-up small goals for myself.  I began to focus inwardly on my mental physique. I read more. I started to research meditation. I decided to start using Wim Hof breathing techniques. I took this setback and turned it into an opportunity to improve other areas of my life that I had been neglecting.

Today, I feel very close to 100%. I still tend to push too hard during workouts, so I’ve been focusing on my recovery more. Reading, meditation, and inward reflection are now part of my everyday life. I am more well-rounded. It’s strange. When you face adversity, you always have an opportunity to learn something. In my case, I chose to work on some of my weaknesses and I came out of this a better person.

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