Importance of rehabilitation

22nd October 2015: Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia

Two weeks ago, I briefly talked about a form of exercise called Tabata. My opinion on the type of exercise has not changed, and it was proving to be extremely beneficial till deciding to modify the routine. The decision to make changes stemmed from a desire to further intensify the range of exercises, however, it appeared my body was not prepared for the additional load. Consequently, I had to have a week of rest, and was sent for an ultrasound to see whether I had damaged my abdomen. Fortunately, the results were positive, meaning there was no serious damage. Instead, I had placed a significant amount of stress on the abdominal region of my body without it being in a position to take such a load. At a very basic level, I can easily look back on the situation with regret, feeling the decision to intensify the exercise was premature. Some may agree with this explanation, however, I believe my body would have been ready for the changes if I followed my rehabilitation plan from last surgery. On reflection, it seems I was naively under the impression of seeing myself as progressing much faster than last time. Admittedly, many areas may superficially support this position, however, the key point being overlooked was a misdirection in my focus. The best way to articulate my point is to make comparisons at varying stages throughout my two recoveries.

So, after the second surgery I started swimming at six weeks before adding yoga, tabata and surfing into the schedule. I gradually starting swimming faster and a greater distance, and mentally felt better than last time. Now, at 14 weeks, a disparity exists between where was I was last time compared to my current position, and it results entirely from being totally blinded by my objectives. Last time, each step was concentrated on based on what was required at that time. This time, I wanted to pass all the steps in favour of recommencing the belief held about the goals of rebuilding my body still being incomplete. Consequently, I am now needing to work backwards, and it reinforces the imperativeness of thoroughly adhering to a rehabilitation plan.


16th September 2015: London, United Kingdom

Rest! At certain points, my body orders a day of complete rest, and today would be placed into this category. I awoke to my alarm sending gentle sounds of chirping birds into my consciousness. Just to note, never again will I return to intense alarm, startling me out of a deep sleep. I can’t think of a worse way to start my day. Preferably, I would be rising with the sun, however, this has been a point of dispute with my girlfriend so I will wait till my return to Australia for the sun to be the source of my daily awakening. The alarm was set as it was a work day, meaning I now had to put aside the voice inside my mind telling me to sleep for a little bit longer, and not bother with exercise planned for the morning. I got out of bed in a typical manner to switch off the alarm when I noticed my left arm did not feel right. Immediately, I attempted to diagonally move my arm in front of my body, grimacing at the movement and realising that I would not be able to do chin-ups, push-up or even yoga for the day. My thought process switched, ‘No not an injury, I need to do exercise, my exercise is essential to keeping me healthy’. The day had not started well.

Since returning to London my routine in regards to physical exercise has consisted of yoga everyday accompanied by two callisthenics workout sessions in the park. The yoga will differ pending on energy levels, however, the outdoor sessions remain fairy consistent with a planned changed when returning to Australia. The reason for a change is in accordance with plans to modify my training every three months, thus, not allowing my body to become accustomed with the same exercises whilst also continually keeping interest and motivation. Also, movement is one of my key principles to survival. My mentally is based on the belief that I will improve in all areas of my life, including overall mental, intellectual, spiritual and physical gains. As you can guess, a sore shoulder in no way fits into my planning.

I briefly toyed with the idea of going for a cycle or just doing some stretches that don’t involve my shoulders. I say briefly as common sense prevailed, and I was also able to consider two of my other key principles to survival, rest and the need to listen to your body. Obviously, I was not impressed with the state of my shoulder, however, could this not be a way of my body telling me to rest for the day? Also, if I was to reject the signals sent by my body then I would be possibly risking longer term damage and further time whereby I would not be able to follow my exercise plans. It’s interesting how once I resigned to the fact of my body needing rest, other parts of my body also felt tired and needing a rest, i.e. a reduced motivation to work and a recognition of a tiredness within my entire body.

Thoughts about my shoulder soon starting sliding into a longing for being home, and I think the dark, imposing grey clouds looming outside my window didn’t help the situation. I stayed fixed in this mindset for almost three hours, not entirely stuck in a cloud of negativity, just fleeting thoughts about my disappointment and frustration. Similar to previous occasions, I was able to reshape my thinking, ultimately leading to a change in mood and outlook. I recognised my focus on the feelings associated with my shoulder and had an understanding that this was not going to be helpful. Therefore, once again, a reframe was applied to see the day as a well deserved rest day. A far better prospect opposed to a frustrated day thinking about my shoulder. I realise this is a minor complaint compared to what others experience, regardless of whether they have Cancer, however, it reinforces the continual deployment of a mental strategy needed in all aspects of life, and can also be seen as a testing ground in building my capacity at dealing with other more severe issues when they arise.