The Navy Seals have it correct, “The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday”. I’m not sure when the first time I heard that phrase was but it wasn’t until after I started down the painful path of arthritis that I fully understood its meaning. No matter if yesterday was horrible or the best day ever, it was yesterday and we survived. By surviving yesterday, we are now better capable of taking on whatever challenge or excitement today offers. This philosophy applies to both good and bad days too, it’s VERY important to remember that!
For me, my most horrible day was the morning after I fell rock climbing. We all say it, but that morning time stood absolutely still while I waited to have my left arm put back together again. The adrenaline of the fall had started to wear off which meant I was becoming more fully aware of the amount of pain I was in. It was incredible! The odd part was the mental confusion that came with that pain. My mind, body, and conscience it seemed could not comprehend everything that was happening to me at that point. So, instead of trying to process the fall, I went into a “spinning my wheels” state in order to cope. Even today, I can still remember that odd, mental confusion state that I was in that morning.
As odd as it sounds, I’m glad that I got to experience that odd, mental confusion state that morning while waiting for surgery. It prepared well for my current pain levels. Unfortunately, my current neck pain returns me to that state more often than I care to admit. I’ve had times were I had to deal with being in that condition while at work, the gym, skiing, or at Starbucks just to name a few places. Instead of panicking or going hysterical, I now realize that I’m in trouble and need to change my current circumstances quickly. By having survived that condition at my worse, I now know and have the confidence to handle whatever pains my neck might try to throw at me.
The phrase “The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday” also applies to all the positives in life too. It’s important to remember that I believe. We work so hard in order to fight our way through the lows that we forget to continue the fight when experiencing the highs life has to offer. Here are to examples from my life that will hopefully illustrate this idea further.
First, one of the proudest moments after my rock-climbing fall was when I was able to touch my thumb to my little pinky finger again. It took almost 3 months before I was able to complete this particular movement with my hand. The pain, swelling, and my muscles simply had prevented me from accomplishing this simple of tasks up until that point. To say I was ecstatic when I first touched my little pinky would be an understatement! I still use that day in my life to push myself to new heights. By working hard yesterday, I now have a very vivid and positive memory of what I’m capable of doing today. Yesterday, or touching my thumb to my pinky, is now easy so I’m able to move on to other challenges.
My second example of using the Navy Seals motto for good has to do with my insistence on continuing to ski despite my failing body. I know that the peace and calmness that I experience when skiing has the power and reward to overcome the depression and frustration on days when I have to use a cane for example. Even a bad day of skiing, were I know I will pay for it physically, still has more power and reward for me than a great day of T.V. watching. Now, my arthritis does prevent me from skiing the way I use too as a ski instructor but it doesn’t prevent me from enjoying life while turning with my friends. Skiing makes yesterday easy which is why I continue to fight to do it today!
Now, as far as my arthritis and pain levels go I’m a pretty lucky patient despite having had 7 surgeries! I don’t have to take injections yet, have never experienced a MTX hangover, and I got to experience being a kid without pain (which is something many Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis patients get robbed of). My idea of living and being an athlete is still pretty similar to a “healthy” person I realize. I do know that this could change instantly by continuing to do things like skiing but I’m all right with that. Arthritis can just hang on to me and enjoy the ride. By remembering that “the only easy day was yesterday”, I’m able to remain one pretty lucky patient I believe!
P.S. I’m by no means advocating that everyone take up skiing or another extreme sport like it. Life is an extreme sport in which there is no one definition of “extreme”. Each of us has the power and ability to work hard today in order to make yesterday seem easy. None of us should ever settle for living on a couch, bed, or without hope. If being an athlete means putting on your sneakers in order to go outside to get the mail then that is the same thing as me staring down a black diamond run in my book! Each of us gets to define what it means to be “extreme” I believe which is the great thing about the word.
Each of us has to define what the phrase, “the only easy day was yesterday,” means to them. Obviously, the Seals definition is going to be different from mine, which will be different from yours. The hope is not to lose sight of what is important in life and what we can accomplish as individuals if we continue to do the work of life.