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Year 3: After Care

🎉 Happy anniversary blog 🎉


It's crazy to think that three years have passed since I started capturing my thoughts and musings. I am sitting where I was when this all started when I first hit publish. Some things haven't changed, I'm on the same balcony. It's a little colder this time around, only 6 degrees versus the plus-11. Still sipping great coffee from the joy mug. Still planning the same week off to visit the same cousin in the same house in the same province. I'm wearing my "I've got issues" sweater - an army green Roots sweatshirt. It's become a habit to always put it on when I'm dealing with things: therapy, specialist and physio appointments. Pretty sure my healthcare team thinks I only own this sweater. But I like what I like, it's my contemplative attire.


A lot has also changed - I'm in a different job, a different career even. I have a different focus for myself, different daily rituals, and different goals. I started to think about what is normal now versus what three years ago looked like and how many times the normal has even changed. I mean, does going through all of that even make it normal or are we in a constant state of change? Exhausting to think about but the more I do, the more I think we are.


I think for some things I crave consistency, I think that the only thing I consistently crave is alone time. Just one day on a weekend where I can squirrel away and not interact with people. Besides that...I think change is a requirement. I know that something has to give when I'm feeling stale or antsy...which is now.


Sometimes it just naturally flows from one thing to the next but sometimes, I notice I spin. I'm such a spinner! It's a pastime of mine, definitely not a favourite thing to do though. This blog was born out of a spinning moment. It was after my therapy program had ended.


My therapist, that I had spent every Wednesday with for 10 weeks, enough time for me to create normalcy, had declared our time was over. I was "cured", well given tools to continue functioning in life again. Her reasoning was valid - when someone goes through something intense and they have a support person it can create a trauma bond. The "injured" party can latch onto the support person and become dependent on them for whatever support they offered.


Fair.


In hindsight, this is fair to me. My therapist offered a service and I participated in the service for the agreed-upon timeframe. I knew it was going to end at some point. I should have known the time was ending when I started bringing up other issues. Our agreement was to look at this one issue, that's what the program was designed for: to create healing for the event. But, when you're in the thick of things and wanna keep going you don't notice that you've granted space to discuss other things.


Hence the blog, a continuation of my therapy. A space for me to share things and mentally move through them by dissecting my issues and well... putting them on a platform for other people to read in case they may be going through something similar. These people can have some of my tools that I have used and also, a space where people may feel like they're not alone in whatever they're going through.


I will admit though - I felt lost after therapy was over. We didn't discuss what life was going to look like after. Kind of like being dropped off in the woods with only a compass. A tool to help you find a way home, but no plan on how to get there.


If you didn't notice from other posts, I like to plan. My family knows this too. When we go on vacation, I like to create spreadsheets or lists of all the different restaurants, coffee shops and activities that we could do while there. I like to break it out by food choice, price, and location and include their Instagrams or websites. I like to plan just enough to make sure I don't miss out on anything and that I feel like I've had the choice to say no to it and choose something else.


A planner and I left my therapist that day with no plan.


I don't think I noticed how much I felt lost until I saw my knee specialist for the last time and I didn't know it was going to be the last time.


Back in late 2022, I decided I was going to be an athlete again. The last time I played volleyball I was 5 years younger, XX amount of pounds lighter and was playing three times a week. Here my 35-year-old butt thought I could do all the same things, turns out I was very wrong. I ended up completely tearing my ACL and my lateral meniscus, a nice rip in my medial meniscus, tore my calf muscle, and hairline fractured my tibia and tore bone off my knee cap. Just a small injury 😉


I then spent the next year seeing my specialist every couple of weeks and eventually every month. A new normal was created for me. I knew I had to go to the hospital, confirm the same information to the same staff, and walk down the same hall to see the same receptionist reading a (different) book. Bless my specialist's heart, I heard the same joke every time and gave the same answer. Eventually, we decided I was going to get surgery to do some repairs once my second MRI revealed something that was missed in the first one due to swelling. Two visits after surgery it was decided that I didn't need to see him anymore.


Fair.


He and his team were fantastic. They took care of me when I was injured and now that I was cured it was time for them to move on to someone who needed more help than I do. I am so grateful that I have had such a great experience over this last year and my healthcare team were/are amazing. But it got me thinking when I was driving home - now what? It was the shortest time I ever had with him and it kind of felt like a pat on the back and you're on your way now.


Author note: I recognize that these feelings are mine and mine alone. My specialist is amazing and I am responsible for how I feel, not him.


A part of me felt like I was thrown back to where I was after therapy - in the woods alone to navigate home with only a compass. This new normal that was created is no longer required. I had a panic moment driving while I thought I don't have a plan, something to fall back on. I eventually realized physio is my next step, but what about when that stops? Ok, then I need to keep going to the gym to keep the muscle strength up. That's my plan, this is my compass for this event.


I feel very fortunate that I have been able to create my own aftercare. That I have been able to navigate a way to keep the healing going. I have been sitting with this idea of what if: what if I couldn't navigate, what if I didn't have the tools or capacity to recognize that I have them and how to use them without support? What if...


There's not really a space I found that supports people with planning the next steps. When you're in the middle of it, because let's be honest even though it's "over" for your support system, you're still going to be going through it. You may not be able to see the path through the trees or notice that you have a compass in your hand.


So, in honour of the blog's third birthday, I have a gift for you, something practical.


A compass.


I want you to take get a few pieces of paper, and at the top write: I've lost direction to...and begin to tell your story. Write whatever comes to mind about the subject in as much or as little detail as you want. Of course the more detail the better, but the point is to just write it out.


Once that's written out, take a few different colours and circle all the things that you don't have control over, in a different colour circle what you do have control over and in your last colour underline anything you'll need help with.


What you're doing here is starting to form rational thoughts to things - remove emotions in this step. You're really just starting to draw a map to get you through the forest. Once all the colouring is done, split the page in half and rewrite what you circled - separating what's in the span of your control (differentiating between what you can do on your own and what you identified needing help with) and what's not.


Set aside what's not in your control for the moment and focus on what is. Take a look at it, and rank it from small or quick "wins" / tasks that are easy, to the tough or longer-term tasks. Start making your plan of attack from there. Identify steps to accomplish the longer-term or tough tasks - like a checklist, nice bite-size steps. If the thought of any step overwhelms you, break it down smaller.


The last thing is the list you created for the things outside of the span of your control. While we can't do anything about them, clearly it means something to you because you wrote it down. So...you're going to do just that - acknowledge why it exists on your pages by writing out any feelings, or unsaid words.


This gives your brain a chance to process it, process the emotions, a chance to move on from it (if you need to). Let's face it, we're horrible at moving through emotion. We let it fester in our bodies, it leaks into our souls and makes us miserable. Over time, it just eats you alive. In the last three years, my original therapy binder had to be transferred to be big one. I like to keep things and reflect every now and then.


Now that you have a compass, I'll leave you with this final thought as you may be setting out on your own journey in the woods: if the path isn't there or you can't currently see it - create one! There's always somewhere to step on the forest floor, the key is to keep looking up as you go.


See you on the path to finding your joy ✌🏻!

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Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I think one of the greatest gifts we can give each other in the world is authenticity and vulnerability.  Something I avoided for a long time. 

 

So as one of my favourite people in the world, Glennon Doyle, once wrote, "be messy and complicated and not afraid to show up anyway."

 

Welcome to my mess.

Let the posts
come to you.

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