Life doesn’t turn out how you think it will. I was injured in a car accident 18 years ago. My spine hasn’t been the same since. I still believe I was lucky. My seat belt kept me from being killed. I was in the best physical shape I’ve ever been in at the time of the accident. Instead of getting a broken back or pelvis, I merely sprained every vertebra in my spine. The back specialist I saw at the time gave in to the pressure put on him to tell me there was nothing he could do for me. Four years of chiropracty, massage, acupuncture, and yoga was what I did to recover.
But the pain has never been completely gone and so, in a way, has become a constant companion and teacher. I’ve had to learn how to cope with incredible pain without pain medication. Because those meds make me so sick, I’d rather just deal with the pain than not be able to function at all. I’ve had to learn to bear the pain without snapping at people and being gloomy all the time. And I’ve learned how to pull myself out of bed in the morning despite how I feel, because Johann needs me to take care of him and there is work to be done. It has helped me understand and empathize with people who suffer with chronic illness in a way that I couldn’t otherwise. I’ve learned patience. I’ve learned how to slow down. And I’ve learned how to set the pain aside to enjoy the good times and smile, rather than allow the pain to be all I experience.
I’ve had times where it has been better and found things that have helped a lot, like physical therapy, acupuncture, and yoga. And let me tell you, the bun warmer feature on our new car is heavenly! But there is still something wrong and whenever I try to do everything I want, what I used to take for granted and think of as normal daily activities such as gardening, playing tag with Johann, or lifting a heavy box, pain stops me in my tracks.
Not everyone has believed me. Some people have even said they thought I was making it up or it’s not as bad as I say it is. Well, I don’t know what to say to that without being unkind, so it’s best to keep my thoughts to myself, but I will say it hasn’t been fun for me to have everything I do to be overshadowed by my back problems. I also know that unless you experience it firsthand, you probably aren’t going to truly understand how difficult and painful it is to live with.
The past year has been even worse and has greatly limited my ability to do a lot of things. When I overdid it this past Christmas Eve and re-injured my back just by bending over, standing up too quickly and twisting to walk in the opposite direction, I decided to try to see the doctor about it again. She ordered physical therapy and prescribed muscle relaxants. I told her not to bother with the pain medication if all she could give me was Vicodin. The last time I took Vicodin, I was so sick all I could do was lie on the couch. I couldn’t even lift my head off of the pillow and I forgot an entire day that I was awake for. Thanks, but no thanks!
The physical therapy helped like it did last year, but as soon as I ran out of visits, the pain increased. I finally got a referral to the specialist I am seeing now. He believes me and asked all the right questions. Isn’t that nice? I just realized at that first visit that all the symptoms I’ve lived with for so many years, because I thought I had no choice and it became the norm, actually indicate a serious problem. He ordered X-rays and an MRI.
Our health insurance issues with Eric losing his funding and us having to get on state insurance took a month to resolve, but I was finally able to get the X-rays that were ordered at the end of February done yesterday. The MRI is scheduled for next week. Then the doctor will be able to tell me what can be done. He said he didn’t know if I’d need surgery or not until he gets the test results back. Hopefully not. But it is clear there is pressure on the discs in my lower back and that is what is causing the numbness and nerve pain down both legs into my feet.
So here’s my gratitude journal entry for today. I noticed this morning that even more snow drops are blooming and they are propagating themselves quite nicely. They are even more beautiful than yesterday, despite the harsh temperatures. Also, my guitar teacher noticed I was in pain today and gave me an empathic, knowing smile. Then he brightened and asked me if I was going to get a titanium spine out of this. I smiled and said that I didn’t know, but that would be cool. Then I can be the bionic woman or, as he and Johann said, like Wolverine! Except Johann thought my name should be Tangarine. Yes, I will be the bionic mother warning all children to eat their fruits and vegetables, or PAY THE CONSEQUENCES!