"Diane, Hannah is ready for you. She'll meet you in the gym--go ahead and find a table."
The receptionist at the Performance Center pointed me down the hall. It's Saturday morning and I have a standing physical therapy appointment at 9:20am every Saturday, one of three PT appointments per week since my surgery five weeks ago. At the end of the hall I turn right to head into the gym, but I look to my left as I pass, into the post op PT room. It's quiet and calm in there and I am full of empathy for the patient in that room. I actually want to go in and wrap him in a big hug.
I saw him and his wife come in to the reception area. I had been looking down at the brace on my leg and noticed how tattered it was from me taking it off and on (what feels like) a hundred times per day. I've had dreams two nights in a row now that I'm walking around without it and then in the dream I panic because I'm supposed to be wearing my brace and I'm not supposed to be putting any weight on my leg yet, which are both true, dreaming or awake. Today I can feel that I'm stronger, that my leg is not so fragile, that maybe I am actually healing. Even the way I'm sitting is different, easier. And then I see this man come in. He looks stunned--shell shocked. He sits across from me gingerly and his wife goes to the desk to check him in. I notice how new his brace looks, and I look up and he's looking right at me. I smile at him and he smiles back--we've sized each other up. I know his wound is fresh; he knows I'm further down the road. His wife returns and helps him adjust the brace. He's almost detached from it, from his leg, from the experience, and I remember that too. Another therapist comes out to get him and says hello. He gets up slowly, unsure of himself on the crutches--I suspect he's scared of falling. The PT asks if he's in pain. His wife answers YES immediately. The man follows up: "I was fine until last night. Then the pain came rushing in. It's really painful." As they slowly make their way back to the post op PT room I hear the physical therapist say, "Yeah, your nerve block wore off. They only last 24 hours. It will get better, I promise--but this part is hard. I'm sorry you're in pain." I'm not even pretending I'm not paying attention, and as his wife passes she looks at my leg and we smile at each other. If his nerve block just wore off last night that means he's only 48 hours out of surgery. Uff da--these next two weeks will be so hard. I find myself quietly saying "oh, buddy..." as they walk down the hall. And as I crutch past the room on my way to the gym I sneak a glance and silently send him good wishes and invisible fist bumps. This part is hard. His wife is protective and fussing over him--it's very sweet. And he will be okay. But right now he just looks like a little boy.
I'm feeling strong and I head into the gym to a table by the windows overlooking a pond and a field. I sit on the table and take off my boots, enjoying the view. Hannah walks by and says "Hey, Diane--I'll be right there!" "Hello Hannah--okay, thank you!" We are old friends now. I take off my coat and my brace and swing my leg up on to the table with ease today. That quad is firing. I'm a pro at PT now. I know the drill and I'm in good hands. I know about Hannah's kids and parents and her husband and her dog. I know what she did for Thanksgiving and how long she's been a PT and that her daughter had minor surgery recently. And Hannah knows about me, too. We talk and we laugh while we are working on my knee, and every time I leave feeling encouraged. It's the same with the therapists during the week, too. I learn something every time and I'm challenged every time. I'm treated like I've got some kind of athletic contract on the line--which I secretly kind of do. I could not be more grateful.
Here's the thing: I am so grateful to feel grateful! Gratitude is a magic elixer. It fixes everything. I've had some of my lowest days ever during the last five weeks, but I find my way back to status quo with gratitude. Had I not embarked on this fitness journey I would not have found my coach. If I had not found my coach my gratitude would not have been restored, because he called that out. Now I'm a gratitude junkie--an addict, a convert. I can't help it, and sometimes I wish I could. Somtimes in life's low points and true challenges I so want to just stay down, but this bubbly f***ing gratitude just pulls me back up. It's like a buoy that's attached to me and it's going to do what buoy's do. It means I don't have to work so hard at it now--gratitude kind of generates itself once that gratitude momentum gets rolling. It doesn't mean that life is all sunshine and roses--not by a long shot. But living in a state of gratitude is like a perspective, or an outlook, or a filter. And, yep, I'm grateful for it. It changed me. And then my fortune changed.
So in honor of this Thanksgiving season, a list of just some of the things I'm grateful for:
And holiday themed pillows.
Early morning time.
And kindred spirits.
And a running community (shoutout Endeavorun!)
And on, and on, and on...
Change yourself and your fortune will change.