Warning: This involves no crafts, DIY tutorial, or pictures. It is a wordy reflection on my recent back injury and a resulting epiphany. I hesitated even posting something so personal and somewhat ‘TMI’, but it’s a part of my life that I wanted to share because it affected me so deeply. However, I am in no way offended if you skip reading this post and wait for something lighter (I have a New Years inspired post that will be up shortly).
I’ve been through a huge range of emotions this week, beginning with when I hurt my back on Christmas Eve. I can’t fully explain how hurting my back has given me such perspective, but I’d like to try since it has such a bearing on where I’m emotionally headed with this whole ‘Changing My Destiny’ journey (in between my crafty/DIY moments).
At 9am on 12/24, I turned wrong while making toffee, and pain shot through my back and leg. It’s nothing too serious and has been getting better day by day, but at that moment everything stopped. Since Saturday morning, I haven’t been able to walk, sit or sleep comfortably. The simplest things are difficult. You would think that I would be angry/frustrated, and there are moments for that, but for the most part I’ve actually been grateful (I’ll explain more in a bit). I’ve had injuries in the past; I had my gallbladder removed at 14, was hit by a car at 15, and struggled through 2nd degree burns on my shoulders from a severe sunburn in my early 20s. However, I’ve never had my mobility really taken from me like it was this past week. For the most part I’ve dealt with it, icing and resting as much as possible…but there were two distinct times where I grabbed the phone to dial 911. Actually, I would have probably dialed my Mom first, who would have told me to dial 911 after hearing me cry in pain.
The first time was the day it happened. After about an hour of trying to figure out what I did, I laid on the floor since standing was getting uncomfortable. 15 minutes later I was feeling pretty good and decided to get back up and get some ice for my back. I haven’t felt pain that bad since I had my first gallbladder attack. (Gallbladder attack pain, I’m told, can rival natural childbirth. I don’t have kids, but to be honest, I’m not worried about the pain after having multiple gallbladder attacks…those things are awful) From the laying position, It took me nearly 30 minutes to get myself to my hands and knees. At which point I realized I couldn’t stand up on my own, so it took me another 10 to crawl over to the couch which I used to help me get up. I had my phone with me the whole time and nearly called for help several times. (I’ve also assured my Mom that my cell phone is to be glued to my hand until I’m completely healed, just in case).
The second time was after I went to bed on Christmas night at about 1:30am. I had been doing pretty well all day and thought I might be on the mend, I was so wrong. I normally sleep on my side and so I went to bed in my normal position, on my right side facing the center of the bed. I fell asleep for about 3 hours, when I woke up and had to get out of bed to go to the bathroom. Since I was lying on my right, that meant I had to roll over to my left and then sit up to get out of bed. Sounds easy, right? Looking back I had probably aggravated the injury by all the walking, standing and cooking I did on Christmas day, because I could not move to get out of bed. I wish I could have taken my time, but let’s just say I REALLY HAD to get up. (I’m trying not to get too ‘TMI’ here) So I tried to sit up and a stab of searing pain shot through me, bringing me to tears. This woke up my dog who comes to my rescue any time I cry. So he immediately walked over to me and curled up by my chest and started licking my hands and face. I tried moving my legs, just enough to see what I could do and every movement causes streaks of pain and I was all out crying now as I had realized that I could not move without the pain, but I had to get up. I felt helpless, a bit scared and embarrassed that I might have to call 911 to help me get out of bed (note to self: wear nicer PJs when in pain…actually wear nicer PJs always, just in case).
I made it out of bed, using the wall and bed frame to balance me, along with willpower that I didn’t even know I had in me. It all sounds so dramatic when I think about the fact that it’s all about a tweaked back, but at that moment I was broken. I made it to the bathroom and sat down; still crying because sitting was incredibly painful at that point. It took me another 10 minutes to work up the courage to try standing again which was a little easier now. I made it back to my bed and sat on the edge, unsure of what to do. I was afraid to lie down, but I was so tired. It had taken so much energy out of me just to walk to the bathroom that my body was literally shaking and exhausted. For some perspective, my bathroom is not down a hall or on another floor…it’s less than 15 feet from my bed. I gently lay down on my left side this time and fell asleep.
It’s been 4 days since that night and things have gotten so much better. I’m currently on day 6 of the injury and I can move around near normal. My back is tight and feels sore but I’m not getting the pain like earlier in the week. I was even able to take my dog out today for a short walk; although it physically wore me out and I had to rest both my back and my pride afterwards. Was it not only several weeks back where I finished a 10K, and now I’m completely exhausted from taking my dog out for a 20 minute walk? I know it’s the back, I know it will slowly get better over the next few days, but mentally, it’s draining.
It’s frustrating when you can’t move and I had all these plans since I have days off of work for the holidays; however, instead of cleaning, organizing, cooking, crafting, working out, and playing with Bubba…I’ve been sitting, standing, or laying down for almost a week straight now. Knowing that I’m getting better just brings on the frustration because I want to move NOW, my body is itching to just move, but I can’t yet.
Want to hear the crazy part? (…and the main reason why I’m sharing these very personal details about me…)
Aside from the pain and moments of frustration, I’ve been feeling grateful. The fact that I’ve come to a grand epiphany right as we close out 2011 and enter a new year, isn’t lost on me. I’m sure that it has something to do with how I’m processing this event. But ever since the injury originally occurred, I’ve been trying to understand why I’m actually smiling about it…and have been since the beginning.
I think this experience has a lot to teach me, but here’s what I’ve got so far…
It slowed me down. I’ve gotten very little done around the house. Dishes are piling up because leaning over the sink hurts, dog toys are scattered around the floor because I can’t bend over to pick them up, I’ve had to take a unexpected break from crafting, DIY and daily posting on the blog. It forced me to stop and reflect on what I was doing. I had to pick out the most important thing and focus on completing a single task, because I couldn’t physically do it all.
I had Monday, the 26th, off from work for the holiday. It took me several hours to get ready to drive to Target because I had to buy dog food or else Bubba would have nothing to eat on Tuesday. I had originally planned several errands & projects for Monday, but really the only important thing was my pup, and making sure he had food. I made it to Target, got his food, came home, and took a nap.
It gave me time to reflect. I’ve had lots of time to reflect on this past year and the goals that I want to accomplish in the upcoming year. Even though I haven’t gotten anything done this week, I’ve come up with a pretty amazing plan for the coming months. As soon as I can move again, I’m going to hit the ground running. This includes long term plans on where I want my life to go from here and ways in which I really can ‘change my destiny’.
I’m humbled. When I stated above that I’m grateful, I meant it in every sense of the word. This pain is temporary for me, I know that in a few more days I’ll be able to go back to my life and dance again, walk again, run again, painlessly climb up and down the stairs, and take my dog for long walks again. The physical pain is temporary and for that I am so grateful. I’m humbled by thinking how lucky I am to being dealing with temporary pain and strong I am deep down. I don’t think I’ve given myself half a chance all these years, and I’m learning that I’m emotionally/mentally/physically stronger than even I know. In the scheme of life, this is a small bump in the road for me, but it’s really shifted my outlook to appreciate all I have and all I’m capable of. It reinforced the fact that everyone is fighting a harder battle and I’m grateful to be able to heal fully from this injury while I know others are dealing with so much more.
My tweaked back was life changing or me because it put things into perspective. At any moment all the things you thought you knew can be taken away. At a single moment while making toffee on Christmas Eve, I temporarily lost my ability to walk and move in general. The time the injury gave me to reflect has changed a lot in my eyes. It makes me want to be a better, stronger, and more authentic person going forward. It was the epiphany that I’ve been looking for all these years and couldn’t find.
Being forced to sit and taking the time to reflect led me to reading this article and watching the amazing videos made by Ben Breedlove, a name I will never forget. This young man, of only 18 years, changed my life tonight. He has left this world with such a gift. Beyond that, I’m unable to articulate, other than to whisper a heartfelt, tear filled…THANK YOU!