Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pain - Repair - Recovery - Rehab?

One of my sons scored a 70% on a test yesterday and we were ecstatic.

His right leg was 70% as strong as his left leg.  He tore his ACL and meniscus in his right knee during a basketball game in February.  The pain in his knee was bad; the emotional grief of a young athlete with high aspirations was worse.  I will never forget holding him as he cried upon hearing the damage report or after allaying his fears with common sense and stoic optimism - stealing away to my basement to cry out my anguish for my child.  But that was a long time ago.  Today was a good day; his knee is ready for the real work.  Here are a few observations I have made so far.

If your kid plays sports at a high level; he or she is going to get injured.

It takes loooong time to repair, recover, and rehabilitate an injury.  It takes patience, persistence, constant monitoring, discipline, and focus to make progress.

You have to be open to many possibilities.  No one knows what will happen.  There are goals and plans - but everybody reacts differently.  You have to adjust to the situation.  You have to be committed to progress and flexible in how you make progress.  So far, my wife has been right on at every stage and my thinking has been too aggressive and optimistic.  After nearly twenty years of marriage, you would think I've learned by now.

Your fears and dreams will impact your choices.   There are choices, risks, and decisions which must be made - be conservative and keep your long term goals in mind.  I liked the process our medical team enforced - keep the long term goal in mind, set measurable goals for each stage before permission to increase intensity, assess and test to determine the results of recovery, advance to the next stage of rehab or adjust to focus on a certain area.  Don't try to get ahead of the recovery protocol; don't allow your child to get behind.  Follow the process.

Don't let your child take unnecessary risks or try to come back too soon.  This is where you have to be strong.  The road to recovery is so long it is difficult to hold them back when they start to feel better - but you must be the one who makes sure they give themselves sufficient time to heal.  You have to be the parent.

If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes the whole family to help one recover.  The whole family has to pitch in to assist in the rehab and pick up the slack of having a person down.  This can be a bit of a challenge depending upon the length of the rehab and the amount of chores.

After all the pain, all the work, all the progress, you still don't know what will happen until it happens.

Like most things in life, the leadership challenges for parents and children revolve around the same core principles:

1) Stay positive, optimistic, and inspired.
2) Be competent - do your research, stay informed, understand your options.
3) Practice foresight - understand the goals, know the situation, plan continuously.
4) Be honest - with yourself, with each other, be open to possibility.

Kurt Vonnegut said, "Being a parent is the toughest job in the world."  He was right.

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