Rewind to May 2019, one week before Mac Mac Ultra, I injured my peroneal nerve. (let me not go into how I did that…) This left my left foot completely unresponsive with no upward flexion….. hanging like a limp banana peel at the bottom of my leg. Initially I thought it would respond again in an hour or two… that did not happen, and the next morning I realised not even a whole night was enough to restore my foot.
A few scary Google searches later, I realised I had what is referred to as “Drop Foot” and that it could take months or years to fully restore, or…..(and this is where it got scary) in some cases the damage is permanent…
After visiting the Doctor, the Physio and various other health practitioners in the weeks to come did not give me much hope either. Turns out there was not much they could do for me… Now, if you’re an athlete, especially if running is as much a part of your life as eating or breathing, you should have a good idea of what was going through my head at that point in time. After almost 3 months it was still exactly the same and I had to sit myself down and have a serious conversation with myself, as it was starting to affect my self-esteem, my joy and my life.
Don’t fret, the story has a good ending. Fast forward to the present moment, my nerve has repaired itself and the use of my foot is about 99% restored.
What did I learn from this experience?
1. Accept what is.
When something challenging happens to you, make peace with it. You don’t have to accept that it is going to be permanent, but just make peace with it, because fighting it and getting impatient makes it worse. I eventually even made peace with the possibility of my nerve/foot never recovering, but I never lost hope.
2. Stay Positive.
It is not easy to stay positive when your future looks grim, but getting negative does not help one bit, in fact it just makes things a whole lot worse. Depression affects you on all levels.
3. Take an active part in your healing, and believe.
Do research into things that might help, even if you feel you are grabbing at straws, try everything and never give up. I taped up my ankle and foot, trying to keep my foot from dropping, just so I could just “try” and walk sort of normally. I bought a “TENS” nerve stimulator just so I could see my foot respond when the probes were sending electric current through my muscles and nerves. Even a placebo can be a powerful cure, if you believe in it. Believe it will get better, and it will.
4. Keep your sense of humor.
Humor is such a powerful healing agent, it makes you feel better and that heals you on so many levels. To say I looked hilarious when I tried to walk “Normally” was an understatement. I often caught my own reflection in a shop window, then turned to June (my wife) to see if she noticed my awkward wobble, just to see her fighting hard to keep a straight face. One day we both just packed up laughing uncontrollably. Laughter is the best therapy ever!
Watch funny movies if you have to, but laugh.
5. Continue to work out.
Don’t let yourself get out of shape. It’s so easy to get demotivated and stop training when something like this happens. Do something your body will allow you to do. In my case I could still get on a Watt Bike, swim, or do some strength training. Eventually I could go for walks, and after about 4.5 months, I could slowly start jogging again.
6. Support Helps.
I could not have gone through this without the support of my wife. I love you baby! It’s in times like these when the love and support from our loved ones matter the most. Don’t keep your feelings to yourself. Share it with your spouse or partner. “a Problem shared is a problem halved” #TrueStory
7. Be patient and be grateful.
Patience is not something we have a lot of. We live in a world of quick fixes and instant gratification….until something happens that cannot be fixed with a magic pill. This forces you to slow down, accept the moment you are in and patiently wait for the situation to improve, or pass or in my case for healing to happen. Ironically It was in these moments of patience that I learned to be present in the moment and fully embrace what I was doing. Also to appreciate what I had to be grateful for, i.e. everything else that was going well in my life.
8. Control your mind.
In conclusion, what this episode did was show me once again the importance of one’s mindset, i.e controlling your mental chatter. Personally I value the mindset and values of a true warrior. Having physical strength is very important and is often required to be a warrior, but the true source of our strength comes from within; from a focused and disciplined mind. Anyone can develop a degree of physical strength just by sticking to a training program, but real strength comes from within. It’s the will to be the best version of yourself you can be, the mindset that you can do anything, and to never quit! With the right mindset, you can overcome any obstacle. Is it easy? Hell no! Is it worth it? Hell yes!! #Honesty #Integrity #Discipline #Endurance
Life is short, do the things that make you happy, go on epic adventures that challenge you #JDES, be grateful for what you have, tell your loved ones that you love them, and embrace life to the fullest.