The most difficult thing I had to do through my recovery process was to be able to sit in my wheelchair. Wait what…sitting in your chair was that difficult? Yes, at first. I was experiencing orthostatic hypotension. It is something most cervical spinal cord injury individuals (like me) deal with which is a condition that makes it difficult to regulate blood pressure and heart rate. After my surgery, I would only lay in bed with the head of the bed slightly raised. Anytime I had the head of the bed raised higher my vision would get blurred, everything would get bright, my hearing would fade, and I felt like vomiting. The more upright I was the more these symptoms would worsen.
The only way I could get stronger was to get out of bed and if I wanted to get out of bed I had to deal with these symptoms. The first time I sat in a chair post injury was miserable. Even with the power chair reclined back all of the way I felt incredibly nauseous and lightheaded. I was completely drained. I felt like I just got done running wind sprints at the end of a difficult football practice.
I told myself just one more minute. I had to persevere.
Have you ever went from laying down to sitting up real quick and you get real lightheaded so you go back down? Well that lightheaded feeling was constant for me. I couldn’t just lay back down quickly though. It took a power lift system and 4 people to lay me down. The first day in my chair I was able to sit for 30 minutes which felt like an eternity because I thought I would only make it 5 minutes.
I told myself just one more minute. After each minute I kept telling myself over and over just one more minute. The next day I pushed for more, I got to 45 minutes. The next day was 65 minutes and I kept pushing myself and pushing myself no matter how miserable I felt. I had to persevere. I had to really focus to not pass out. I had to push through the suffering if I wanted to make my dream of walking a possibility. Because if going from laying down to sitting up was tough then you can imagine how difficult it would be to go from sitting to standing.
After 6 weeks, I passed out twice trying to train my low blood pressure but I was able to last hours in my chair and I could tolerate being in a standing position for short periods. The more I was out of bed the stronger I became.
Do not quit when things get difficult or uncomfortable. If you want to make significant gains and progress you have to push yourself past the point of comfort. A Navy SEAL said this, “When your brain tells you you’re done, you’re really only 40% done.” You have more in you than what you think. Always try to push yourself out of your comfort zone.
TAKE ACTION: Today push yourself out of your comfort zone. Take what you are doing today and add to it. Example: if you run 2 miles every day change it to 2.5 miles or to wherever you can really feel yourself being pushed past your limit.
This concludes the 7 BEHAVIORS TO SUCCESS email series. I hope you enjoyed it. I would appreciate your feedback or recommendations for another series. Just know that it is the journey to success that will strengthen you the most!