Dear Injured Athlete…

Injuries mean starting from scratch and most of the time we dread starting from scratch.  We dread it because it means we have to start over.  That we have to get uncomfortable. That we have to challenge ourselves. 

I feel like typically we have to start from scratch not from a personal decision to do so but because something didn’t fall into place the way we had initially hoped for.  

Get broken up with, start from scratch.

Lose a job, start from scratch.

Get surgery, start from scratch. 

Use your entire savings account, start from scratch.

Graduate from college, start from scratch.  

Move across the country, start from scratch. 

Lose a parent, start from scratch.  

I have experience with all of these start from scratch moments.  All of these unnerving, scary and extremely uncomfortable situations. The situations you don’t exactly thrive under, at least not in the beginning stages of them.  The situations that run you down little by little.  The situations that you call “unfair”.  The reasons you believe in luck and the fact that you don’t have any. 

What if we realized though that starting from scratch is a place that we get uncomfortable and place that challenges us, but instead of a place of fear it’s a place of new beginnings and fresh starts.  A chance to become someone knew.  A chance to gain strength after a few moments of weakness.

On December 7th, 2017 I underwent a spinal surgery.  At twenty-five years old I had the body of a much, much older woman.  My back was all sorts of screwed up, which is quite comical now considering they screwed me back together.  Literally speaking.  My L4 was moved thirty percent forward, my disc was herniated, my vertebrate was fractured on both sides and basically my nerves had nowhere to go.  They didn’t have a place to live comfortably which means, Alexa couldn’t live comfortable. 

After twelve years of back pain that got gradually worse every year, finally my legs and feet went numb.  This was my reality check.  

Now, when you tell people you are twenty-five years old getting back surgery the unsolicited advice starts coming.  The advice to not get the surgery because I am too young. The advice to just shoot up some steroids and stem cells. The horror stories of it not working, me waking up paralyzed, or me not waking up at all.  In reality, sure any of these things could have happened but truth was I was too young not to have the surgery.  Too young to have to live my life the way I was living it.  

However, I made my own decision The decision to live life pain free one day.  To be able to go on a walk and not need to take a break.  To sit in the car for a road trip and not want to cry from the pain.  I went under anesthesia for three and a half hours, let my surgeon cut me open on both sides of my spine, allowed him to take my disc out, replace it with a new one and then put me back together with four titanium screws and 2 metal rods.  

Recovery is starting from scratch.  Boy oh boy, is back surgery starting from scratch.  It’s having to pee in a pan because you can’t get out of bed.  It’s not being able to bend, lift, or twist for six weeks.  Six weeks people.  That means not being able to tie your shoes, making it very challenging to put your own underwear on, put your own pants on, and impossible to shave your own legs. It’s dropping things way more often than ever in your life because it’s such a challenge to pick them up and that’s the funny way life works. It’s walking with a walker at twenty-five while people give you dirty looks. Not being able to get in and out of bed by yourself.  Not being able to drive a car. Oh, I forgot to tell you after the anesthesia, pain killers, and other medications they are pumping in your veins you can’t even take a shit to save your life for about four days.  Not only is it not fun but then imagine having back surgery and then having the urge to shit but not wanting to push because it’s a painful push.  That’s fun. I realize this is too much information but I want you to know how much of starting from scratch moments this was for me.  It has been a quite eye opening experience to say the least.  

Now, I hope you’re not considering back surgery at this current moment in your life because I want you to have your dancing shoe on. The thing is we are slightly cruel to our bodies as athletes and as dancers. We do crazy things to it.  We dance through the pain until the moment it simply won’t let us anymore. When this happens we tend to get angry and then sad.  We get angry because we look like we can’t do something and it’s hard to swallow our pride. We get sad because we no longer feel like us.  We thrive on dancing.  We thrive on moving and now we can’t do either. 

The positives of starting from scratch is that it allows you to be creative.  To form new party tricks as I like to call them.  It’s a way to recreate yourself as a human.  Even if that means calling yourself Iron Woman because you now have a bionic back.

— 

Alexa Glazer 

Founder of Livin’ the dream … THE MOVEMENT

www.alexaglazer.com