“You should prepare yourself for the fact that you’ll most likely be in a wheelchair by the age of twenty-three.”
I was nineteen years old when a doctor said those words to me. Nineteen years old, but life as I knew it was already over.
An abusive ex-boyfriend decided to vent his rage by slamming his mother’s station wagon into the vehicle I was a passenger in…seven times. While we were moving. The result: two badly fractured vertebrae, whiplash, and constant debilitating pain.
As strange as it sounds, I’d had no idea my back was broken. My pain began a day after the “accident”, but I blamed my waitressing job. Once the connection was made, I started seeing a chiropractor. But it wasn’t until I was back home in BC eight months later that I found out the awful truth…I had a broken back.
Thankfully, that doctor was not a psychic. Over a decade past her deadline, and I’m still not in a wheelchair, nor do I have any plans to be. I will always have issues with my back going out of place and with chronic headaches, but my pain is a lot better than it was. I am lucky, but sometimes it’s a challenge not to lose sight of that.
Last week I was on the bus, no doubt feeling sorry for myself because I was off to a double kickboxing class again, and I was tired. I just didn’t feel like working out. Then a woman in a wheelchair got on the bus, and I remembered how easily her story could have been my own.
A lot of people whine about exercising. They say they don’t like it, or they’re too tired, or they don’t have the time. Sometimes I feel tired, too, and that couch seems pretty tempting. But what if we looked at it another way? Instead of viewing exercise as a chore, why not look at it as a privilege? That we’re fortunate to be able to move our bodies. That life…and movement…is a gift.
The next time I’m too “tired” to go to kickboxing, I’m going to remember what the alternative could have been. And how lucky I am to still have legs that can run, jump, and kick.
It’s something I won’t take for granted. I hope that you don’t, either.