Off the top of my head, I can quickly say you were one of the worst years ever; a prolonged epilogue to the global pandemic, the loss of my role model and the subsequent loss of my father figure. You dragged out the collective misery and made 2022 a special hell just for me.
I started the year with so much hope. I was making plans to get back to my peak performance at the gym and setting goals for myself. And then in March you shattered my knee. Just as the world was opening up and people were getting back to work and I was planning a trip to Goa, you came in and shattered my knee.
Having had joint surgery before I thought I knew what was coming but it was just so much worse. I learned through excruciating pain that load bearing joints take much longer to recover. I took multiple ambulances, sat through X-rays and MRIs, had epidurals and nerve blockers injected into my spine and thighs, spent nights in the ICU under the haze of fentanyl, followed by weeks of physiotherapy leaving me screaming and then sobbing every single day. I was strapped into device after device — to activate my muscles, to bend my knee, to stretch my hamstring. Then another hospital visit, another nerve blocker, another epidural… a walker, multiple knee braces, a walking stick, ice packs, pain medication twice a day, I was in hell on earth experiencing pain like never before.
And then one day I was told I could put some weight on my leg. And then I was told I no longer needed to wear the brace. And then I was cleared to walk without a walking aid. And then I was told to practice climbing stairs till it felt normal. And then I was told that I could jump, and squat, and jog, and kneel. Every two weeks in the gym I could feel the new set of exercises become easy. Every now and then I found myself not paying as much attention to how I was sitting or standing or moving. I danced a little at parties. And then I danced some more at weddings. I walked on beaches and climbed steep slopes. I carried backpacks through airports and hoisted my 5 year old niece onto my hip when she was tired. I went to new cities in new countries and my legs carried me through 13000 steps a day. Then as 2022 came to a close I was told that I could go back to doing my favourite lifts in the gym. I almost cried as I hugged my physiotherapist. The year was finally over.
Looking back now, with the memory of the pain blurred out I can see how lucky I was. I had an orthopaedic surgeon to call when I felt my knee buckle. I had family by my side as the ambulance arrived. I had a mother and a boyfriend by my side throughout — who held my hand as I cried, who stayed night after night while I was in the ICU. Who brought me home, who gave me water in the middle of the night, served me food and bought me ice cream. I had the most amazing physiotherapists who told me every day that I cried that it would be over one day, that it would get better, to not give up. I had the financial support of my family who could pay for every procedure, every piece of equipment, every physiotherapy session, while battling health insurance representatives for a reimbursement. I had a psychiatrist who validated my experience and gave me the medicines I needed when I couldn’t manage on my own any more.
I had friends come visit me, cousins come make me laugh and take me on drives, a niece and her colouring books while I was in bed; friends from across the world who checked in on me, video called me, sent me flowers and chocolate. I had friends in the city who sent me care packages full of snacks. I had a stack of books and plays that kept me company, TV shows that helped pass the time, and a job and manager whose kindness and accommodation made me feel useful at a time when I felt weak and dependent. There is no way I would have gotten through the year without them.
2022 smashed my knees and opened my eyes. After two years of feeling only loss and pain, 2022 showed me how loved I was. After two years of feeling defeated and battling a long existential crisis, 2022 showed me resilience. After a lifetime of giving up too easily from fear of failure, 2022 showed me what consistency can do — how doing one stretch every day for twelve weeks is more useful than doing 100 stretches once a month. After fifteen years of hating my body, 2022 showed me my own strength.
I looked at my body differently for the first time in my life. Instead of seeing the flaws, I saw the strength. I saw my skin rejoin under staples. I saw my scabs fall off and new skin take its place. I saw my calf regain it’s shape. I felt my quads tighten. I touched my toes for the first time in years. I did workouts I had never attempted. I found myself able to withstand so much more after spending months strengthening my core. I saw the way in which my body moved through the world, rather than how it looked while it moved. 2022 broke me in order to build me up as a different person.
2022 was a metamorphosis. I was feeling trapped but really I was growing and changing, becoming a new me. Now I go into 2023 with hope and gratitude. There’s an undercurrent of fear and apprehension, but I am more confident in my ability to withstand pain, to be consistent, to be patient, to be resilient, to be hopeful that things will get better if I do a little bit every day. I am more hopeful now that there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel. So, fuck you 2022, but also thank you.
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