This post is by far the slowest thing I’ve ever typed. I’m sitting on the floor with the coffee table pulled up to my chest so that my right arm can rest on a small throw pillow. I’m two-finger pecking the keyboard at about 5 wpm.
A Setback in Seconds
About two weeks ago I was playing in a soccer game and a ball drilled my right hand at point-blank range. My wrist was jammed and I hit the ground in pain. It felt like I just punched a brick wall. I’m not a stranger to sprained body parts, so when the swelling subsided two days later, I thought I would be healed in no time.
However, by some terrible, almost laughably cruel stroke of misfortune, I was hit in the same freaking hand again during the next week’s game….
I figured two times in a row was enough and went to an Urgent Care Center the next day to confirm it was still just a “bad sprain.”
After a quick x-ray, the doctor walks back into the room unfazed and says, “Welp, it’s fractured!”
The doctor went on to explain I’ve broken the third worst bone in the body to break (the “scaphoid” bone in the wrist), because it can take 8-12 weeks to heal and might need surgery.
The next day, a specialist confirms with a truly disappointing tone that I need a thumb to above-elbow, old school plaster cast for at least four of the minimum eight weeks that is required to heal my terrible, yet seemingly painless injury. If I don’t do it this way, I’ll be “screwed in the future,” etc. etc.
Within minutes, I’m all of sudden wielding an absolutely impenetrable right arm cast made with the same skill I learned in an elementary paper maché art class. The doctor then hands me a bag of gummy bears and says, “Welcome to your new prison!”
I’ve just gone from a well put-together, responsible 26-year-old adult to a 10-year-old child faster than you can say, “SON OF B–.”
The Setback Sinks In
2013 has not been the best year for me in terms of “major” setbacks. For example, my car engine blew up in January. I had surgeries on both my elbows in June. Now, I have a broken wrist. But really, its not the events themselves that put me in the dumps… it’s the long list of things I once looked forward to doing that I can no longer do because those events.
Here’s my newest list thanks to my new “prison”:
- No more Stampabout episodes… one of which was going to be ice climbing in December.
- No more soccer… I missed the playoffs last season due to my surgeries. Now I can forget this season, too…
- I was four days away from playing my first full-band show since moving to LA two years ago. We had practiced since March.
- No more piano playing in general.
- No more surfing.
- There’s a strong possibility that I’ll still be handicapped during a Christmas trip with my family.
- I was actually going to leave my job in November to travel, but now have to stay much longer so I don’t lose my insurance.
- Since I broke my right wrist and I’m right-handed, everything is a struggle (work, showers, typing, wiping, etc.).
- No more exercise… I’m told that any sweat that forms in my cast will eventually make my arm small like a zombie apocalypse.
- Many more that I won’t know until that devastating moment comes…
Basically, most of what brings me happiness on any given day has been swiftly thrown out the window with no consolation. And the fact that I have no choice in the matter is what hurts the most.
When I got home that day from the doctor I yelled tons of expletives, punched the couch (with my left hand), and was the verge of an all-out cry-fest. I’m a pretty happy kid who doesn’t get upset that much, but when everything exciting is stripped away, it’s hard not to be disappointed. A lot of “what ifs” and “what nows” run through your head.
When going after a dream like Stampabout’s dream, every little setback feels devastating. When a “major” setback happens, it crushes you even more. Instead of saving for a cool new trip or new equipment we need, I’m now paying medical bills. Instead of planning more adventures, I’m taking showers with a freaking plastic bag and hoping water doesn’t sneak into the cast.
Every opportunity for this dream’s success has just taken a backseat to this new ball and chain. Until I can cut the shackles, this setback owns me.
Have you ever experienced a setback that has kept you from a dream, a goal, a project, a trip? It’s like arduously climbing a mountain and just when you’re sensing the summit, an avalanche sneaks up and knocks you halfway back down… at least it seems to feel that way.
2 Ways I’m Turning “Major” Setbacks into Minor Speedbumps
I’ve been putting the word “major” in quotations this whole time. The thing is, as your average human being, I know life is going to get in the way a lot. It’s happened countless times before and it will happen countless times down the road. In fact, one of our earliest videos was about this exact sentiment.
The truth, however, is that events that seem “major” to us are actually very small in the scheme of things.
Here are the 2 tactics that I’ve found help me turn “major” setbacks into minor speedbumps:
1) Find the Silver Lining
Just like the phrase “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til its gone,” is true, I also feel that “You don’t know what you’ve been missing ’til its gone,” is also true.
Now that I have a nearly immobile right hand that restricts me from doing a lot of things that used to take up much of my day, I’m thinking about trying to read books that have been sitting on my shelf for way too long.
I’ve also tried and failed to learn Spanish for years. I might not have an opposable right thumb, but I don’t need one to learn Spanish.
Instead of continually adding to a depressing list of all the things I can’t do, I’ve decided to find the silver lining in this setback and start making a list of all of the things I can do.
2) Reflect and Recognize What I Still Have
This is probably the most important part. Perspective is everything, and it’s very easy to lose on a daily basis… especially on days like today.
For example: I go to a job (I have) in a car (I own) and walk to into an office (full of happy dogs) with my two legs (that both work). I work with friends (that care), go and buy lunch with money (I’ve earned), and return home to an apartment (I take for granted most days).
Yeah, I just broke my wrist and it sucks. I’ve stomped around in my apartment angry that I can’t do all of the things from that list above. But after the pity party in me subsides, I step back from the moment and realize millions of people would love to take my broken wrist over any number of their problems. I am privileged to have food, water, shelter, family, friends, opportunities, and good general health.
There are people with so much less than I, and during the moment of any temporary temper tantrum, there comes a jolt of reality that says, “You’re ridiculously lucky, and it’s time to understand that.” While a broken wrist seems like a “major” setback, it is a very, very small setback if I look at the bigger picture.
Needless to say, it’s still hard to find that moment of Zen when sh*t is hitting the fan. But the faster I find it, the quicker I start climbing back up the mountain (that I have the awesome opportunity to climb in the first place).
Sometimes, when I realize how blessed I am to even have the ability to attempt a dream, I realize what a waste it would be if I didn’t try my hardest to actually make it happen.
What have been some of your greatest setbacks? What got you through them?
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