Learning How to Walk Again – Life Lessons

Learning How to Walk Again

A little over a year ago one of life’s unexpected turns found its way into my life. Just from stepping off the curb the wrong way, I have had a year worth of pain following a very extensive surgery on my ankle. Sometimes, life will throw curveballs when you least expect it. There have been a lot of lessons learned throughout my healing time. During physical therapy today, the therapist made a comment that got me thinking not just about my ankle but about life in general. I’d like to share with you one of the many lessons that have come out of the situation with my ankle and learning how to walk again.

learning how to walk

I often dread going to the physical therapist. It is an hour drive each way and I always dread the pain I know I will endure from therapy (both during therapy and for the rest of the day). I can get rather discouraged sometimes but, today, I had a little different outcome.

Both last week and this week, my new therapists have expressed that I will never get back to where I was prior to my accident. That was NOT what I wanted to hear, however, a phrase that my therapist said today caught my attention. As she had me walking from one end of the pool to the other, she was explaining to me that I am “Just like a stroke patient learning to walk all over again”. Here are a few things that came out of that one phrase:

I am learning that I am having to start over.

I am learning that in order to get better I have to go through some painful times.

I am learning that repetition is a key player in getting better. My physical therapist expressed how it takes 2000 repetitions every single day for a stroke patient to send the message from the brain to the ankle to move correctly. Since my left ankle is what needs to become stronger, I am having to take 4000 repetitive steps every day despite the pain to make sure that my left ankle gets 2000 steps of repetitive motion.

learning how to walk

I am learning that we have to take baby steps to get to eventually take the bigger steps.

I am learning that I may walk with a limp for everyone to see but eventually the limp will fade or hopefully dissipate completely. But it takes time to heal.

I am learning that it takes going regularly to a therapist to discuss what hurts and have them help me find ways to fix it.

I am learning that I don’t like hurting and I don’t like the therapist telling me what to do but I have to listen to them. They know far better than I do!

I am learning that if the therapist knows my problems, she can help me in ways that I can’t help myself.

I am realizing that the pain I feel is because it is loosening up the tightness and strengthening the muscles around the tendons and ligaments resulting in less pain the next time.

I am learning that I need accountability to work through it.

I am learning that it takes work and dedication even when I don’t feel like it. It will NOT get better on its own.

I am learning that I have to retrain my brain and focus on getting better.

The first step is the hardest. It gets easier.

I am learning that truth hurts but the truth is the truth and you can’t change it so you have to learn how to cope with it. My therapists have told me I will always have at least a 20-25% loss of mobility but that I can learn ways around it.

I am learning that by strengthening areas that I CAN strengthen helps offset the weakness and will eventually make the weaker areas stronger.

I am learning that it may take another painful surgery to get rid of all the scar tissue and repair the tendons and ligaments. Surgery is the last thing I want, especially with how painful the first one was. If it takes that to be able to walk again pain-free, I’m willing to go through it once again but with a better, more experienced doctor and therapy team.

learning how to walk

Although all of these are things are what I had learned about the pain with my ankle, it also relates in a big way to myself and many of you with problems such as self-esteem, temptations, weaknesses, faults, and failures from your past whether it was brought on by yourself or battling the pains of other’s mistakes, and the list could go on and on.

Sometimes you do not want to let go of the problems and sometimes even the people from your past. In order to truly get better and get stronger, you have to learn how to walk again. It may hurt, it won’t feel good, you’ll hate going through it, but in the end, each step gets a little bit easier and less painful. Find friends, family, and even medical professionals to help you in healing. Don’t take advice from just anybody.

Through this past year, I have had people who have absolutely NO medical knowledge trying to guide me on how to get better. What they have told me to do has been the exact opposite of what my physical therapist has told me. That goes with emotional support just as much as it does physical support. Get your advice from people who know what’s going on and are educated in helping you to “walk again”.

Think about how these lessons learned on “Learning to Walk Again” relate to YOUR life

  • Sometimes you have to start over.
  • In order to get better, you have to go through some painful times.
  • Repetition is a key player in getting better.
  • Taking baby steps eventually leads to bigger steps.
  • You may walk with a limp for everyone to see but eventually the limp will fade or hopefully dissipate completely. It takes time to heal.
  • Go regularly to a therapist to discuss what hurts and have them help me find ways to fix it.
  • You don’t like hurting and you don’t like the therapist telling you what to do but you have to listen to them. They know far better than you do!
  • If the therapist knows you problems, they can help you in ways that you can’t help yourself.
  • The pain you feel is because it is strengthening you.
  • You need accountability to work through it.
  • It takes work and dedication even when you don’t feel like it. It will NOT get better on its own.
  • You have to retrain your brain and focus on getting better.
  • The first step is the hardest. It gets easier.
  • The truth hurts but the truth is the truth and you can’t change it so you have to learn how to cope with it. 
  • Strengthening areas that you CAN strengthen helps offset the weakness and will eventually make the weaker areas stronger.
  • It may take enduring more pain to work through your problems before it gets better but you have to be willing.

I can remember the very first steps I took after my surgery. I needed my husband by my side helping bear the weight. Tears would roll down my face with each step. The first steps are always the hardest. I have come a LONG way. I have a long way to go but I can now walk on my own without tears (most of the time).

If you are struggling, it WILL get better. Hang in there and do something proactive to make it better. Focusing on your own problems and finding ways to fix them should take precedence! 

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3 thoughts on “Learning How to Walk Again – Life Lessons

  1. I love walking. I recently lost 40 pounds after splitting from my husband of 11 years. I intend to keep going and walking is about the only exercise I find that doesn’t hurt my body. I have Fibromyalgia, Neuropathy, Type 1 Diabetes, and chronic everyday headaches and migraines. I find if I don’t move my pain is worse. So I tell myself that I have to keep on going!! Good luck with your journey too.

  2. I had to get surgery today, so I could somewhat relate to this post. I am a fitness instructor and runner and will need to take time off and “start over” again. It’s both physically and mentally tough.

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