For many people, life after an injury is anything but easy. Along the road to recovery, you could face hardships and setbacks with potentially lasting repercussions. Even a seemingly small injury can lead to a major life change that impacts you physically, mentally, and financially for years to come.
Rather than letting your injury dictate your life, it’s essential to take steps to handle the physical, mental and financial impacts in a productive and resourceful way. With the right strategies, you can limit the negative consequences of your injury and keep a one-time incident from turning into something worse. The circumstances leading to your injury were likely outside your control, but you have the opportunity to take back command.
Whether you’re navigating post-injury life solo or have a strong support system helping you along, it’s important to spend time thinking about how you’ll deal with the physical, mental and financial repercussions. Taking the situation one day at a time is fine to start, but to ensure comprehensive recovery and long-term success, you must step back and prepare for the future.
Dealing with Physical Repercussions
Unfortunately, for some people, the physical repercussions of an injury last significantly longer than the original recovery projections. It’s one of the reasons you should investigate short-term and long-term disability insurance options. While you’re likely prepared to deal with pain in the immediate aftermath of your injury, chronic pain is something entirely different.
When you hurt yourself, pain sensors ignite in the injured area. Those sensors transmit a message in the form of an electrical signal that flashes from nerve to nerve until it reaches its final destination: your brain. In usual circumstances, the signal stops once that cause of your pain is resolved (i.e. your injury heals). But, with chronic pain, the nerve signals continue to fire even after you’ve recovered.
If you develop chronic pain, your body could continue hurting weeks, months, or even years after sustaining an injury. Unsurprisingly, chronic pain can interfere with your daily life and make normal tasks much more difficult (if not impossible). Being unable to do the things you want and need to do can take a toll on your self-esteem and impact your mental health.
Preparing for Mental Repercussions
When discussing an injury, people tend to focus on physical pain. However, for individuals trying to adjust to life after an injury, the ensuing mental issues are often even worse than the physical pain itself. How you deal with your injury can affect not only the physical healing process but also how you feel about yourself during and after recovery.
Each person has their own way of reacting to an injury, and responses can include severe depression and overwhelming anger. It’s not uncommon for someone to misinterpret their physical pain and inability to care for themselves while recovering from an injury as weakness. Succumbing to frustrations leaves the door open for your physical injury to become an emotional one. Some emotional effects manifest as opiate dependency.
If you find yourself feeling down, one helpful strategy for getting your mindset back on track is acknowledging how you are functioning well. Take time to be proud of yourself for how far you’ve come, and remember that your injury doesn’t define your self-worth.
Furthermore, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Since long hospital stays can impact mental health, it’s important to be honest with your caregivers about how you’re feeling both physically and emotionally. Hospital staff and other caregivers aren’t mind readers, so you need to be forthcoming with how you’re doing and what you need.
Handling Financial Repercussions
While the mental and physical repercussions of an injury are certainly formidable, the financial consequences are often the biggest issue after an injury. Each year, thousands of people’s lives are nearly destroyed financially in the wake of a significant injury. Costly medical bills coupled with the loss of income due to an inability to work can send people into a downward economic spiral from which they might never recover.
If your injury happened while on the job, you should file a workers’ compensation claim and consider seeking legal advice. Because employers and insurance companies are sometimes slow to pay or deny credible claims, you must follow the precise steps to get the most out of the settlement. There are many instances of people who got far less than they deserved in a settlement because they didn’t explore all their legal options.
From financial strain and emotional distress to lasting physical pain, the road to recovery is littered with a myriad of challenges. Learning how to live your life after an injury involves navigating these setbacks and hardships, all while giving your body what it needs to heal and trying to maintain a positive outlook. You likely didn’t plan for your injury, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a plan for overcoming it. Acknowledging potential repercussions and finding strategies to manage them is the best way to set yourself up for post-injury success.
Author Info: Noah Rue is a writer, a digital nomad, and a graduate of the lessons of life (primary) and also the University of Idaho. These days, Noah teaches English as a second language in lovely Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and moonlights as a content strategist for an American based marketing company.