It’s my back’s turn now.
Last Friday when I went for a walk (which started off as a slow stroll) I got a call from a friend and we got into a pretty intense discussion about how my anti-inflammatory diet was coming along. I got distracted, and ended up walking faster than my normal pace, which, is the fastest I’ve walked in a very long time. With a lot of love, patience and care, I had managed to build my back up to a point where by I was able to manage about 20-30minutes of walking per day. I had put in a lot of effort to look after the constant pain I had in my lower back because of a slipped disc and a sublaxed tailbone. I had a routine of some sort, with Pilates and Physio, and my daily walk, and frankly, I was starting to feel more in control. Walking to nearby places or a really short bus ride wouldn’t hurt my back as much.
Before last Friday, I had noticed a slight increase in pain level, though I knew it was only because my general activity level had gone up (my brother is here for a break so there’s more happening in a day) and because I wasn’t able to stick to my daily routine as per usual. That’s okay, it happens. I had expected a slight increase in pain anyway. What I did not expect was for my back to flare up to this extent because of that one walk. Those few minutes of walk where I was busy talking on the phone and less in tune with my body has caused me to be almost bedridden. The pain level is insanely high now. My muscles are in spasm and the pain is shooting down my legs. My back feels stiff and wobbly at the same time and a few steps forward make my legs weak. I don’t have enough strength to hold myself up and I’m literally limping my way around.
If I am very honest about this, I can say one thing, it’s been MONTHS since I experienced so much pain in my lower back and tailbone. It is very very sad to be in this situation, knowing the amount of time and patience it took me to build myself up to where I was last Friday. It’s a little upsetting, because it can take a very long time yet again for my back to recover, and then to slowly strengthen it. For a while, I felt stupid. I felt silly. I thought I made a big blunder. How could I do this to myself, I thought. I spent the weekend being very mean to myself, beating myself over for being careless. It took me a while to realize that it wasn’t fair; the way I was treating myself. I was only adding to my suffering, nothing else. Besides, that’s not the way I would talk to a friend who is injured, so why talk to myself like that? I didn’t make a mistake. I didn’t intentionally hurt my back. Yes, it’s very that true I have a greater control over my body and I am better in tune with the pain I feel, but I’m still human and humans make mistake. I do expect myself to be more cautious about most things I do throughout the day (that’s a lot of decisions to make in a day by the way and that means being extra alert all the time) but how can I expect myself to NEVER EVER get distracted? That’s not right. It’s hard to forget about the pain when it’s in your body 24/7 and for five years that too, but it is very possible to get distracted once in a while, like, when you’re on the phone with a close friend. I’m here now, in bed, unable to move and I have imagined the worse already – what if it takes me yet another three years to feel how I was feeling just last Friday? And that thought is not only disheartening and demotivating, it is SCARY. What if I have further injured my back and made things worse than where it started ages back? SCARY too. What if I’m not able to do things for myself again, like I was finally learning to? SCARY AS ANYTHING CAN BE. The list of ‘what ifs’ that I can come up with if I utilize my creativity to its maximum can go on if I want it to and frankly, I don’t want it to. So I’ve stopped, because again, this does nothing else but add to the suffering I’m experiencing at the moment. I’d rather tap into the strength and faith that I now have and remember that I have done this before. I can do this again.
In 2012 when I was diagnosed of HMS, I was uncertain about my future and how I’d survive…. but I did. I was scared beyond anything. Today, I’m injured and I’m in pain and I can’t walk but I’m certain I’ll heal. I’m certain that I’ll recover. I’m certain that I’ll walk again, get back to doing Pilates and continue making my way towards my dreams and goals. I’m certain that there is a future, and that’s a BIG improvement from where I was then. What is uncertain however, is, the time I’d need. But time is never certain for any of us, right? Today, I have a team of medical professionals (well, it’s a different story that my current Physiotherapist is out of town right now so I’ve been looking around for someone who I see for the time being, and this means explaining your entire medical history all over again, getting more of the same information and sometimes less of the kind of support you need at that time. It’s always a matter of trial and error, which can be tiring when you’re dealing with a back injury) will support me in this. I have a few people around who see my condition a bit better. But above anything, I have learned to accept my body enough to give it what it needs so if it needs even more love, patience and care now that it is injured, I’ll do it all over again. I will have to keep reminding myself that even if it may seem like I’m starting all over again, I’m NOT.
Things can get challenging again from here, and I’m well aware of it. However, over the past few years and especially last one year, I’ve gained more knowledge about my condition, I’ve developed more strength in myself and I am way more in tune with my body than I was when it all started. I feel more equipped with the tools I need in order to manage this injury – and that means I’m NOT starting from zero.
I have a better foundation in general – a deeper understanding of what to, and what not to do for my health and even if the pain is terrible, I try to look at it differently. I need to be kind to myself and get through this one day at a time, just like I do with any other joint. I need to remind myself now more than usual that it is OKAY to take time and slow down, or to prioritize my health over anything else. There is no rush, there is not race to win. That’s what’s needed. I can’t be harsh or punish myself for getting a little distracted. After all, I have a condition that I’m dealing with and that makes it possible for me to unintentionally overuse or over-exert my joints and muscles. So if it was anyone else in my place that got a little distracted while on phone and walking, I bet he or she wouldn’t have injured his or her back this way. I do enough for my health otherwise and I am aware and conscious of the pain I feel. I am doing enough and I need to keep trusting that I am. With the pain level being at almost a nine out of ten today, I would do anything to be able to go back to the “normal” seven that I managed to bring it down to. And if ‘anything’ means mainly rest, being nice to myself and allowing my back to heal, then that’s what is going to happen. If ‘anything’ means choosing what I feel is right for me, then that is what is needed.