I was hurt at work and spent 2 years on a couch. This is what I learned

In early June of 2017 (a lifetime ago) my company hosted their annual company retreat for product managers. Excitement for the event was building up for weeks prior. It had a “camp” theme and would involve us bunking with our colleagues for a few days. There’d be challenges to tackle, presentations to watch and “good” food to eat. By the end we’d be a more confident and closer team.

On the morning of the trip, we all piled into a bus at the office in Manhattan and embarked on a two hour drive to our destination in Connecticut. Once we arrived at our new homes we found our room, unpacked our bags and headed to the lodge to listen to the first of many presentations.

After the quick introductory meetings, we gathered into two teams to do a playful set of team building exercises. The first of which was a relay race that playfully pitted the members of our teams against each other. It’d be another 30 seconds later that I would start running, trip and find myself grasping my chest knowing something was wrong with my shoulder.

I was immediately taken by an extremely bumpy (off-road) path, in old Honda Accord driven by one of the camp counselors, and taken to the local hospital. The hospital staff was friendly and I was provided some powerful pain killers, given an x-ray, then then prescribed some pain medication. Nothing can be done with a clavicle injury they said, just time. Ultimately sent on my way after a handful of hours.

Before arriving back to camp from the hospital, I was under the illusion once or twice that maybe I could just ride out this injury at the camp. I mean, this was supposed to be a two day company retreat. Instead, smarter sense prevailed and while the team was celebrating the first successful day, I was sitting in the back of an Uber heading back home.

After a 3 days of excruciating pain. I had my follow-up visit with my general practitioner. Another x-ray, another set of pain medication and sent on my way with a referral to an orthopedist.

Now another week later and still many excruciating nights and I was in the room with my orthopedic specialist. The injury was bad he said, I needed surgery. Between the time of the injury and the time the surgery about to two and a half weeks had already passed. Pain would continue to blur the days moving forward.

It’s was almost eight months later and I had yet another surgery under my belt. It was a long road to recovery.

Thinking back on the events, it amazes me even now.

I started the journey with the expectation that I’d have to take off some work, but I’d be back in a matter of weeks. Maybe I’d learn a craft or two with the time. We’d even planned my sons summer camp near to my office so I could drop him off in the morning. Nothing that summer, and into fall, went as expected.

This long road ended up taking so much out of me mentally, physically and emotionally.

As they say, the absence of disease is not health. Health is physical, mental and emotional fitness and not just absence something wrong with the patient. If the person is physically, mentally and emotionally stable than the whole term is defined as health.

After 1 month I wanted to use the time away to focus on being a better me. After 8 months you just want to be normal. Normal was going to work every day, coming home tired. Playing with my kids and having dinner before going to sleep. On the weekends maybe hanging out with friends between toddler swimming lessons. Everything is different when you are sitting and sleeping on the couch day in and day out.

I stubbled upon a TEDx talk by Shawn Achor. Now, this is an old clip. However, I must have seen it before because it felt extremely familiar.

However, this time around it hit me differently. Much of what is discussed felt right and so I’m going to try it out.

  1. Record 3 new things that you’re grateful for
  2. Journal about one positive experience
  3. Exercise
  4. Meditation
  5. Random Acts of Kindness

It’s all about scanning the world not for the negative but the positive first and isn’t anywhere as easy to do as one would imagine. However, it is important and it’s as important as healing my body from injury. It’s a lesson I took away as I sat on the couch. Being someone who does good and feels good about doing good.

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