When I was in my early twenties, I underwent a routine gynecological procedure—a laparoscopic surgery—that went very wrong. My condition deteriorated during the week after my procedure, and when I went to get my stitches removed, I was sent to the hospital where doctors discovered a perforation in my bowel.
I ended up spending over a month in the intensive care unit in a bed, unable to even get up to shower myself, unable to walk. It was a pretty strange period in my life. I don’t remember much of the physical or emotional pain of it, but, years later, every now and then a smell or something brings me back to the time I spent in hospital and triggers the emotions. But what I do remember is my own strength, and the strength of my support system.
After I got out of the hospital, my body was a mess. I was given no direction on how to re-balance it, but I was warned about the possibility of developing scar tissue, and told that exercise would help. So once my body could handle it, I started running—a sport chosen largely because I didn’t know much else about fitness.
What I did know: Being so sick and weak made me want to feel strong and capable again. Fitness quickly became a great avenue to explore that. I had never really thought of exercising as fun, just as something you were required to do in grade school. But I set a goal to run a 15K fun run, which I ended up doing two and a half years post-op.
Getting back to my normal life, back to college, and back to my routine was empowering; I got out of an unhealthy relationship, moved houses, finished my degree, traveled, and moved overseas for a while. During that time though, working out was still only something I did when I had a goal set (like a race) or when the weather was good—there wasn’t a lot of thought behind it beyond wanting to be a bit active.