Stretch Yourself To Success
I developed a love/hate relationship with the nurses at the Eskenazi Burn Unit during my recovery and physical therapy after my fire accident. Twice a week I would make the journey up to Indianapolis and meet with my burn team that oversaw my care and welfare. They would greet me with a smile and then proceed to remove my bandages, exposing my injuries, and aggressively clean my wounds, not seeming to care or notice that it hurt me.
My wounds continued to heal and new skin begin to replace the old skin that was damaged or lost due to the fire. The new skin on my right foot looked and felt like thin paper. It seemed fragile as one of the nurses poked and prodded the skin to assess its condition.
“I need you to point your toes.” The nurse politely commanded. I responded by pointing my right foot away from my body. However, the new skin resisted and so I stopped.
“Keep going.” She stated without looking up at me. I refused her command, my new skin was tight and I was afraid to stretch it.
“I know.” She looked up at me with an empathic smile, “It feels like your skin is going to rip or tear, but it won’t, trust me.”
“Are you sure?” I ask.
“Positive, everyone feels the same as you, but this exercise is necessary for healing and growth. We need to stretch your skin so we can make it pliable and allow it to expand across your wound. Now, point your toes further.” She commanded and looked down at my foot.
I wince as I point my toes as far as I can, hoping that my rigid new skin could handle it. My skin resisted and it was painful as I stretched it through the exercise. Sweat found its way to my forehead and trickled down my face and dripped off my chin as I pushed my skin to stretch out beyond comfort. I was relieved when the nurse told me I could stop.
“I know it’s uncomfortable.” She smiles and stands up. “You need to do this twice a day so you can train your new skin, ok?” She waits for my response. I nod and look away from her. I’m annoyed by the request and not overly pleased by her insistence that I continue to push my skin with this exercise.
I reluctantly follow the prescribed exercise regime, and over time, my skin no longer resists but becomes fully pliable and functional. Now, I don’t notice it as it’s fully healed. I can run and exercise, just like new, and I regained full range of motion. My skin resisted at first, but over time it stretched and adapted to its role on my foot.
Stretching out of our comfort zones in any part of life is uncomfortable, if not painful. My skin was new and felt fragile. Everything in my mind told me not to push it, but my veteran nurse knew better. She knew my skin would stretch and pushing it with my physical therapy was necessary for growth and to ultimately get it where it needed to be so I could lead a healthy life. How often have you resisted growth and failed to push yourself in some area of your life?
I was convinced my skin would tear if I stretched it too far. I would’ve let fear hold me back, if my nurse didn’t encourage me. I had no experience that verified my fears but just assumed my skin wasn’t ready. We give too much power to our fears. Many fears are unfounded and not logical and based on emotion. Our lives, like my skin, are more resilient than we realize, yet we fall short of stretching ourselves to new heights.
Today, my new skin is discolored and it’s evident that I was involved in an accident. Life is a lot like that. When we stretch ourselves, it changes us and alters our personality, our character, and our behavior. Change is uncomfortable but necessary for growth and success. What area of your life are you resisting change? Is it time to stretch beyond your comfort?