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How rugby and Carrie Underwood brought me back to life

carrie-underwood-see-you-again-600x337Six months ago, my appendix burst.

This was one of the most excruciating things I’ve ever felt, and I do not recommend it. Still, I survived and I do recommend that. The recovery period was brutal. I am not the best patient under any circumstances, but this laid me out physically, emotionally and psychologically. There were moments I wondered if I really would make it back to health, or if this was the best I would ever be again. A fatalistic thought, to be sure – but I had no road map. Each day I hoped for energy and less pain, and it simply didn’t come.

My husband was a saint about it, but I knew he was puzzled – it was just an appendix operation, yet I didn’t seem to get better. He urged me to go back to work after a week, to try to engage my mind in things outside of my pain. I went, but felt like a ghost at work. I had no strength, no drive. One day at lunch, I went to Starbucks, got in my car with my coffee to drive back to the office, and fell asleep in the parking lot for 20 minutes.

Two more weeks passed, and only minor improvements. He took me to the park one Sunday, and I dreaded every minute. I was tired of feeling weak, tired of shuffling from place to place like an elderly man and got angry thinking about how feeble I was.

It was a warm November day and we shuffled along the top of the sunken park’s walkway. In the distance, I saw a group teaching kids something that didn’t look like football. We shuffled closer. I couldn’t believe it – it was rugby!

I only played for 3 years, but I missed it still. It, more than anything else, toughened me up (well – so much for that). It made me brave. I tackled people and I got hurt and I lived. I’d gotten my forehead split open in London during a tournament, and still played the next day – because I couldn’t let down my coach.

Somehow, watching these kids learn stirred something in me. I felt hopeful -just a bit. We walked back to the car and he drove us home. Carrie Underwood’s “See You Again” started playing on the radio. I’d listened to that song all summer, as I commuted back to work in LA. I hummed along, then sang a little louder – the first time I’d felt I had enough breath to sing.

He turned up the radio and encouraged me to belt it out. I did, hesitantly, but by the time I got to the bridge, I was crying and yelling the words out full-strength. I clutched his hand hard – I don’t know how he knew to push me right then, but it worked.

It took almost a month more to get back to 100%, but here I am. So my advice to everyone?

I will see you again – this is not where it ends …

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