In my youth when I was still young and foolish and did what adults in charge told me to do, I had an event happen that changed the course of my life.
Thankfully when devastating things happen that are unexpected or outside of your control you still get to control how you allow it to impact you. I developed a serious injury by not listening to my body and doing something in gym class after I already had substantial injury. At the time, the gym teacher thought it was minor and inconsequential.
The result of both injuries damaged every muscle, tendon, and vertebrae from the base of my spine to the base of my skull. After a year-and-a-half of painkillers and physical therapy, I was told it would only get worse, surgery would not help, and I would probably never be able to physically carry children. I was also told that over time, I would be in so much pain I would probably be confined to a wheelchair. The only solution my doctor could offer was increasingly large doses of heavy duty pain killers to which I would likely become addicted and still be in pain.
At the ripe old age of 13, I decided to go off all pain medication, even over the counter pain relievers, and do my best to figure out, on my own, a way to cope with the pain. Being in pain constantly (because even breathing moves your rib cage and causes intense pain) forced me to realize that taking my frustration out on the people around me when it had nothing to do with the state I was in was damaging and unproductive in cultivating warm, happy, loving relationships. So, I learned to accept the limitations I had physically. I overcame any limitations I could by developing mental strength, courage, and fortitude. It made me a much stronger person and a much kinder person then I ever thought I could be. I did not realize at the time how one bad experience would influence the entire course of my life. You fast forward nearly 40 years later and that internal strength and fortitude was tested again when serious health issues and medical complications outside of my control almost destroyed me and left me with PTSD that was undiagnosed for years. It has shown me how incredibly powerful the human brain is and how resilient it is.
These experiences have given me the ability to appreciate the quality of life today because I know how precious life is and how everything you love and cherish can be gone in a heartbeat.
I also learned that no matter your circumstances or your condition in life, the things you have control of can still cause you to triumph over adversity if you keep your wits about you and stay in the fight even when it looks like you are losing the battle.
Nothing can stop a person who never gives up.
In the end, I did eventually learn ways I can stay healthy and happy and live a relatively pain-free life while still passionately pursuing my goals. I am fortunate that shortly after realizing I most likely will end up in a wheelchair and be in pain every day of my life, I became very good friends with a man who was so bent over crippled and deformed from extreme effects of cerebral palsy. He had a motorized wheelchair. Most people were uncomfortable by his contorted body, his need for oxygen tubes, and his extremely distorted speech that made him almost impossible to understand. But this man had a zest for life and was one of the finest gem cutters I've ever known. The patience and precision that he used despite his obstacles inspired me. If he could still be a happy loving man enjoying every minute of his life and able to laugh at himself instead of crying or hiding away in shame, how could I do any less? He taught me how to cut gemstones. He taught me that life is still wonderful even when it delivers a gift you weren't expecting and didn't even know how you would accept it. He taught me that when you stop pitying yourself and take the time to listen to others you can understand them, and you can still see the beauty and value of their magnificent life.
So, looking back on these and so many other horrible events that knocked me to my knees or put me face down in the mud, every single one of them has always proven to be a blessing in disguise. To the point that I now find myself sending up prayers of gratitude in my most difficult moments because I know that even though I could look at the current events as a painful miserable thing that it really is a blessing in disguise.