The Journey to Recovery isn’t always Straight Forward…. Even for Health Professionals – Megan Mansell AEP

Some people may think that health professionals do not struggle with the same health concerns that everyone else does or struggle with motivation to exercise. We are trained in health and how to manage illnesses and rehabilitate injuries but in no way are we above or exempt from getting them. We hit the same crossroads as many of you will. We get sick, we get injured, we get confused, we get anxious, and we fall down.


All we can do is keep fighting. Find what is important to us. Find what is holding us back and if we can’t figure out how to get past this, then we seek help out. Don’t think that because we have stumbled that we can’t get back up. Many clients say they did not want to come back in because they hadn’t done what we had planned or felt like they would disappoint us. You never have to be worried about this as we are here to help as best we can.


Recent events have caused me to face similar battles of my own. I enjoy exercise. It’s my career. It is my escape. Not only helping me stay physically fit but also helping with my mental health. Tough days can be improved by a walk or a hard session to help take my mind off things. It hasn’t always been an easy relationship though and in recent months it’s never been harder. The thing I got a rush from doing was causing me pain, fatigue, and stress. It was frustrating me because I couldn’t figure out why my body was struggling so much and why I couldn’t get on top of it. I tried reducing weights, swapping out certain exercises, trying to increase stretching/release and increasing stabilisation exercises. Despite this and trying to use a process of elimination, I just felt I couldn’t get on top of it. As a result, I stepped away from strength exercise and high intensity conditioning, opting for light walks.


I had been having musculoskeletal pain along with other issues for 18 months. As health professionals, we know basic signs and symptoms to look for, which can often create a bit of confusion.  Well at least it did for me. Support from my partner and family urged me to keep investigating and finally I received a diagnosis. Endometriosis. Endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women, and despite what is known about this condition, there is still so much unknown due to the variety of symptoms and presentations.


The surgery caused further interruptions in my exercise routine. Being an exercise physiologist, everyone expects us to have the answers and never struggle when it comes to exercise, but unfortunately that’s not always the case. Like everyone, health professionals have our own struggles and barriers to overcome. We can relapse and have to fight hard to get back to where we know we should be.


I was concerned that post-surgery I would have a hard time getting back into a routine and unfortunately, I was correct. I wrote a plan for myself, including a foundation program, that detailed what I would do each week. Something I have done for my clients more times than I can count. Despite this, the execution was less than perfect. A lot of this had to do with motivation. Despite knowing the benefits and importance of exercise, as well as the steps to return to exercise, I wasn’t able to commit. Instead of allowing myself to throw in the towel completely, I reset my goals and expectations. I started by determining what I felt was achievable. I felt focusing on getting into a regular walking routine was important as it helped me get moving, feel good, and have time outside with my partner. This is what I have been working on for the past fortnight. Doing so helped me identify my barriers. My main barriers, that I’m still overcoming, are fatigue and fear of pain.  Until I can find a way to break down these barriers, returning to my pre-op routine will be difficult. This will be the next step in my rehabilitation journey.


As you can see you never have to be embarrassed about not sticking to a plan or having trouble getting back into a routine. Sometimes it just takes some time to figure out the best path and plan for you. Health professionals are not exempt of health issues and as a result helps us empathise and invest in your rehabilitation plan.