The “M” in Motivation

“If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” – Gandhi

At physical therapy-paragraph 1Our bodies and minds continue to evolve and change. At times we may try to fight the inevitable that we never stay the same. As we age, our knowledge expands and our bodies progress. We progress to different phases. During these phases we may be forced to unwanted periods of time. This has happened to me since February 1, 2013. I have been a physical therapy patient since the first quarter of 2013 for my disk herniation and recovery from my back surgeries. My spine is complicated. Due to scoliosis, I have two Harrington rods that run parallel to my disks of T3 to L2. The several disks below the rods are either herniated or bulged. The most repetitive question I have asked my physical therapist is, “Will I get back to the me I used to be?

Me I used to be hiking w_ Noah-paragrah 2

Whether living with health issues or not, sometimes in life we yearn for answers. We ask questions knowing there are no definitive answers. Knowing that the person we so badly want to hear a hopeful response from, has no way to predict our future nor answer the difficult questions. I want to know if I will be able to hike big mountains again. Will I be able to go on long car rides and get back to exploring CA and the world with my husband? Will I be able to work full-time again? Or, will I be able to go a day without pain?

Those of us with PKD can also experience unbearable pain. Prior to the removal of my football-sized polycystic kidneys, I had an IV pain pump administered to try and control the pain. Until a few months prior to my bilateral nephrectomy, the pain was chronic yet sporadic from the age of 10 to 18 years old. I had time frames of reprieve where I went back to my pain-free self. Where I could breath deep rather than take shallow breaths. There was a solution to eliminate the pain; remove my kidneys. I do not have a solution for my back.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Abraham Lincoln

Beginning of 4th paragraph

The main lesson I have learned throughout the past two years is that the ‘m’ in motivation is ‘me.’ There is no answer to what my future will entail, health-wise. My damaged back is different than any others and I can’t compare and hope that my recovery will be like someone else’s. My recovery is up to ‘me.’ It has been up to me to be a diligent physical therapy patient and to do my exercise routines. It is up to me to stay positive, hopeful and mentally strong. While something – like nature – or someone – like my husband Noah – are extremely motivating, motivation also comes from ourselves. As I continue on my journey, I have realized that I need to concentrate on the current me rather than getting back to the me I used to be. While we may want what we had, let’s focus on what we have and know: that the ‘m’ in motivation comes from within.

Noah & Valen-end of 4th paragraph

“A difficult time can be more readily endured if we retain the conviction that our existence holds a purpose – a cause to pursue, a person to love, a goal to achieve.” – John Maxwell

What helps motivate you? Please share below in the comments section.


  1. Meredith

    Thank you for this entry, Valen. It came at a time when I really needed it. I’ve been grappling with how my body changes, and will continue to change, as my PKD progresses. My vanity struggles with my ever-growing belly and my psyche struggles with the daily pain. As I’m sure you know, some days are easier than others and I just have to pick myself up and keep moving forward.
    I genuinely appreciate your writing. Thank you for your contribution to this life.

    • Valen Keefer

      Dear Meredith,

      Thank you for this thoughtful message. Knowing that this blog came at a time when you really needed makes my heart happy. I am so sorry for what you are enduring. Nobody can relate to PKD and it’s symptoms unless they have endured the pain themselves. As you know, I have and I wish I could take away what you deal with on a daily basis – physically and mentally. I can feel from your words that you have the inner strength to fight this and keep moving forward. I hope the easier days give you that extra push to deal with the harder ones. Please know that your kind words mean a lot and fuel my passion to keep writing. I hope today is treating you kindly. Big hugs!

  2. Kimberly Gamble

    THANK YOU VALEN! I’m like you and Meredith with the large kidneys, ever enlarging belly, and chronic pain caused by enlarged kidneys pushing on everything else in our bodies. As I am retiring from my state employment job at the end of December, I’ve had all sorts of up and down emotions tied to my health and abilities and inabilities. Your “m” in motivation stands for “me” article gave me a positive nudge that was sorely needed today! Thank you again for sharing yourself and your gift of writing with others.

    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Kimberly,

      You are so welcome! I am very sorry to hear what you are enduring, but thankful to learn that this blog post came at a fitting time in your life. It sounds like some big changes are unfolding for you. Please trust how well we can adapt to change and how strong you are. Thank you for your kind sentiments and encouragement to keep writing. Wishing you the best!


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