If the future me came back to tell past me, “you climbed up a mountain,” past me would have laughed. I often find myself holding back on doing things out of fear of re-injuring my knee. I tore my ACL back in high school and the injury has come to haunt me years following my surgery. Just the thought of climbing up a mountain was terrifying. At first, standing at the bottom of the mountain was like laying in the room just before surgery. I remember telling myself, “everything will go fine and you will make it.” As I was dragging my feet up the steep inclines, all I could think to myself was “what was I thinking?”
I wished no one ever would go through the pain of rehabbing a knee injury. I remember crying myself to sleep at night because I could not lift my leg to get in bed without it hurting or almost peeing my pants on the way to the bathroom because it hurt so much to move my leg. I would have pain shoot through my knee and legs as I cut and turned during basketball games. Things did not go the way I wanted it to go. In 7th grade, long before I tore my ACL, I set out a goal for myself to play college basketball. After three years of rehab, surgery, and pain, I tossed that dream out the window, because realistically it was never going to happen. Rehabilitation of my knee was similar to trudging up Monserrat. I was exhausted, dirty, and breathing heavily step after step with some of my group mates. My legs were burning with every stride. At one point, I was using my entire body to push myself up the steps. I remember looking back at Shailja and sharing a look of defeat, but we encouraged and pulled each other up the steep rocks. Without my friends, I would have never made it to the top of the mountain, just like without my teammates, coaches, parents, and physical therapists, I would have gotten the chance to live out my dream of playing college basketball.
The view was amazing, but the feeling inside knowing where I started and how much I struggled, was even better. Whenever I have bad day or going through a tough time, I should look back on this experience. I literally climbed a mountain and it was not easy, but I still got the top. I would have not been able to do it without the encouragement from my classmates. Their support helped me find the strength, bravery, and confidence in myself to overcome the challenges I faced. In life, the bad days and tough times are bumps in the road in the mountain I have to climb to get where I want to go. I feel that as a human, it’s important to know everyone has a low point or is struggling to get to the top of their mountain. As health professional and a person, I just have to believe in, support, and inspire others on their challenge journey to overcome their mountain.