Chill with what my body tells me: another lesson in maturity

So I’ve been trying this new thing lately. Something I have maybe not done as much as I should’ve in the past.. and I’ve learned the hard way that doing it every once in a while is a good thing. It’s that whole “listening to and respecting what your body is telling you” thing.

Turns out mine has a lot to say.

Shocker.

We’ve had our differences in opinion, my body and I. Whether it be through injuries, spontaneous tailbone cysts, impromptu illness and food intolerances, or just reacting to the stress of what I try to pass as a sane schedule- we’ve had to learn how to learn to listen to and tolerate each other in some interesting situations. Almost a year ago now I started the journey of modifying my eating habits to better serve my body, and while there have been some ups and downs with that- I’ve been rewarded in more ways then one for my choices.

Any athlete, at one point, has to learn to deal with injuries in a more productive way then letting the injury control who they are/want to be, and I am very thankful I learned that lesson before this most recent injury. Being one of the first injuries directly related to sport that has knocked me out of commission for a long recovery, I’ve managed to not let it get into my head too much. Whether it’s maturity, or years spent figuring out coping mechanisms (are those things the same thing?).. I’ve treated myself with moderate patience so far through the rehab process, and because of that made pretty significant gains in month following my accident.

Last summer and into the fall when I was recovering from a concussion, I struggled with listening to what I needed. Anyone who has had a concussion will likely have gone through the same experiences. Tasks that were once no big deal become Mt. Everest, yet you are the only one who can see that mountain. There is no cast on your leg telling those around you that you can’t climb.. all there is is symptoms within your head that only you experience. It’s lonely, it’s depressing, and it’s scary. It is an impossible task for those go-getters among us to not try to push through those signs telling us to stop.

Going to a prof (especially one who may not know your regular personality), or a classmate, or a friend- and saying things like “studying for this exam makes me dizzy and nauseous, and I can’t follow even the simplest material…I don’t think I can do this right now” can be absolutely terrifying.  What will people think of you? Will they see me as a flake? Am I not trying hard enough? The conversations I had during this period were some of the scariest of my life. Symptoms of this injury can seem so ridiculous.. until you experience them first hand. Those experiences are partly responsible for giving me some respect for what my body tells me.

Being a student in a health field brings a whole new side into things. Talk about overthinking, try knowing every possible outcome to injuries- and then having said injury, or having someone close to you have that injury. Then you will really understand overthinking. However, again maybe it’s maturity coming into play, there comes a point where you recognise that all you can do is what you can do- that’s it. Control is relative, and intuition is a fantastic thing to utilise. Being honest with yourself about how you’re doing is a really healthy skill. Not trying to micromanage yourself is another beauty of a talent.

I spent most of last week studying for the exam I wrote on Monday: Ergonomics. This is a challenging applied biomechanics course I quite enjoy, and it’s a subject I’ve chosen to do a directed study on next year with a focus on rider mechanics and fitness. That being said, I put a lot of weight into doing well on this exam- because it would be a tad awkward if I didn’t get a good mark in this course- yet wanted to pursue research in the area. I planned it so that I could spend my study time during reading week on this course, and then use the remainder of this week to study for my other heavy exam on Thursday (Exercise Physiology- not a course I particularly enjoy).

The first half of my plan worked quite well. I walked away from my Ergo exam feeling like I managed a half decent mark (for me that’s a B ish), and ended up with an A (!!!). The second half of my plan.. not so much. Over the weekend I started getting sick (viral like symptoms)- and then got better for Monday. After my exam Monday, it all came back (damn you reading week for slowing down my immune system!!!!). My whole body felt weak, headaches, dizziness, faintness, all of which got worse when I tried to study..or move.

After day two of trying to study and only making myself sicker- and then stressing myself out thinking about how writing this exam on no preparation could only mean I was a failure….I decided to listen to my body and see a doctor (What? Me? See a doctor voluntarily?). When rolling over in bed causes me to feel like I had recently run a marathon- I reach my limit. Lets not talk about how stairs make me feel right now, and that’s not even from a busted leg perspective.

Thankfully the doctor confirmed my suspicion of just a frustrating virus being the culprit (although a blood panel is being run to rule anything else out, of course).. and decided for me that anything involving school tomorrow (including the monster exam) is out of the question. Sometimes me listening to me is really just me finding someone who will indirectly push me to make the right decision for me. This is why I surround myself with wise people. They indirectly make me smart… occasionally.

Pretty much as soon as I emailed my profs explaining what the doctor had told me, and acquiring the note to back all that up if need be- I felt so much more relaxed. The monster exam seems less big and scary now that I will have a chance to prepare for it. Sometimes being a dedicated student (or athlete) means knowing when to slow down and take the time to recover so you can perform your best.

Why did it take me so long to learn this??

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Photo cred to Jenaya MacKinnon of Out of Focus Photography (click pic for link)

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