There’s been a handful of failures that have helped shaped and define who I am, but the one that stands out is a chronic neck injury that started six years ago.
I would never wish bad health on anyone, but my experiences with injuring my neck have vastly altered my direction and what’s most important in my life. There have been many wise people who have discussed how vital health is to our lives. Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “The first wealth is health.” But that’s difficult to notice—truly know—until you’ve experienced the downsides of injury or poor health. Or as Thomas Fuller put it, “health is not valued till sickness comes.”
However, there is also opportunity in sickness. When you lose something, you gain the awareness and empathy of those who, like you, have gone through a difficult experience.
My neck injury was a gradual degradation. I didn’t notice anything wrong until it was all-encompassing. In retrospect, Doctors would tell me it was likely brought on by physical trauma I experienced as a child (head-on car collision with my mom, ATV accident with my dad). That plus working behind a desk without proper knowledge about posture combined with the stress of a full schedule was the tipping point to an injury.
One day I was fine, the next I could barely move. The back of my head was pounding. I could feel my pulse radiating from my shoulders up to my face. Sleep was impossible. I spent almost a full week in bed with minimal movement. My parents quickly recommended that I go and do some physical therapy.
This was an extremely difficult time. If you’ve ever broken a bone or injured yourself, not only must you deal with the physical problems but also the mental battles of keep negative and hopelessness at bay. It makes you wish for the days where getting A’s in math courses is all you have to worry about.
I spent a lot of time during this period learning what I could about what was happening to me. I tried many things, like strength, yoga, tai chi, diet, meditation, and other practice to relieve stress. It helped with the pain a little, but it never completely went away. Every day was a constant feeling of pain and discomfort. My sleep was suffering too, because sleeping in a certain position, or subconsciously rolling over from my left side to my right (or vice versa) was painful enough to wake me up.
Injuring myself wasn’t all doom and gloom though. Having to constantly deal with pain taught me how to be incredibly resilient to difficulty and gave me the drive to pursue health and seek out unique solutions to my problems.
It’s also taught me the value of hope. There’s always a way forward, even if you don’t know how or what that specifically looks like. Failure highlights the positive. It allows us, if we choose it, to see beyond our immediate circumstances, think entrepreneurial. find unique solutions to our problems and help others in the process.
STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1217