Healing Lessons - Life is like Groundhog Day

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on November 05, 2019 # Health

by guest writer Andrea Mastrobattista

What?! Not again!! I woke up in Setback City and I did not want to be there. Let me explain …

As I documented in my first Reeve Foundation blog post, Healing Lessons : The Blessings of a Crushing Diagnosis, in August 2017, I was confronted with a stage IV pressure ulcer and a two-year healing journey that thought I was done with, but that was not the case.

My wound area opened again. Granted, it was a slight opening, but was a setback nonetheless.

Entitled to What???

I finally asked: “A lifetime of challenges with a physical handicap, two years of bed rest and now another setback?! Haven’t I been through enough?”

I am ashamed to say I felt entitled to be done with setbacks just because I thought I’d had my fill. But that’s not how life works and, deep down, I knew the truth. We’re given challenges to see what we’re made of and, if we face them, they’ll make us stronger.

Alright, Universe, I get it! I still have lessons to learn from this pressure ulcer and not being entitled to a free pass was just the beginning.

You're Stronger Than You Think

With that first lesson came a realization that hit me like a ton of bricks: I have to deal with this situation for the rest of my life.

I was worn down and starting to think, “It’s too much. I don’t have the strength to handle this anymore.”

If I continued to think that way, I would have gone on a deep downward spiral. I had to turn the thought around. Instead of fearing how far I still had to go, I focused on how far I’d already come. Here’s what that thought process looks like for me:

I’ve dealt with spina bifida all my life and I’ve faced every challenge.

At its worst, this pressure ulcer was eight centimeters deep. Now, it’s only a surface wound that’s less than a half-centimeter in length and width.

I’ve come this far. I have the strength to deal with this setback.

It’s a mind game that I’m winning and so can you.

You Always Have Choices

Because I tend to use humor when dealing with adversity, it occurred to me that life is like the movie Groundhog Day. Bill Murray’s character Phil Connors keeps living the same day over again until he learns the lessons he needs to learn and makes the choices he needs to make to move on to the next day.

In my own story, I was trying to look toward a brighter future, but it felt like my choices were dwindling … until I realized they weren’t.

I couldn’t deny that I was experiencing a setback, but I did have choices in how to deal with it.

To get my independence back, I had resumed some of my chores at home, took on more work in my professional life and got out of the house a bit more to socialize. But in doing so, I was starting to cut corners, slacking a bit on some of the healthy habits I had cultivated to help me heal. I wasn’t always exercising first thing in the morning, and some days, not at all. Plus, I was opting to prepare quicker meals, which doesn’t always mean healthier meals. That’s when the latest setback happened.

Since both the healthy habits and returning to my daily routine are essential to my physical, psychological and emotional well-being, I had to strike a better balance. Once I re-committed to practicing my healthy habits consistently, I was able to get my head back in the game and move beyond the disappointment of the setback and re-focus on healing. While the balancing act takes effort and hard work, the choice itself simple: Maintaining healthy habits leads to healing and living a full life.

The Ultimate Choice: You may have to visit Setback City now and again, but you don't have to live there.

Andrea Mastrobattista is a professional speaker and owner of Operation INSPIRATION. She facilitates interactive workshops predicated on her core belief that no matter what challenges we face, we each have the ability to create and live our most fulfilling and inspiring lives.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.