Everything was going great. My summer began, and aside from a couple of typical teenage bumps in the road, I was happy in life and doing well. My job was great; I loved it and it loved me. My friends were awesome; we were all having so much fun together. My family was even better; we were finally back after 10 months of me being away. Who could complain about all that?
And now, about three or four weeks into summer, I sit on my couch in a back brace, ignoring the occasional tears that stream down my face in reaction to shooting pains in my mid lower back. I tore a disc in my back from cycling (mainly) and lifting heavy items all day at work.
I don't know what to center my article on, the indescribable pain I've experienced over the past few hours or the fact that I am frustrated that this is how my summer is turning out. Or, the steps me and my doctors are planning to take to "fix" me. I guess I will do all of the above.
Unless you've had some serious back issues, the chance of you understanding what it's like to actually have serious back issues is unlikely. I definitely couldn't comprehend it until about 5:38 this morning when I woke up and my whole body was numb.
I was a person who traveled absolutely everywhere (within reasonable distance) by foot. I mean Upper West Side to SoHo type of distance. I loved to do it. I could take the train or hop in a cab, but why? With so much to see all the time, and a 98% chance of stumbling upon something I've never seen or heard of and becoming obsessed with it, why not just walk? I was all for it.
Not to mention the fact that people who knew me well have verbally expressed the frustration that walking next to me brought them because of my abnormally fast pace. Many people next to me fall out of breath on our "strolls". Oops.
But, this morning, I woke up not able to get out of bed. I was screaming and crying in agony, and honestly I was scared for my life. I had never been this way due to pain, ever.
I had tried to do some stretches and managed to get myself to a specialist who did a few exercise routines on me that she usually does for people with back pain. I left the appointment so much better. The pain was gone. I got in a cab to get home quickly and make it work on time. The pain was coming back little by little but I could definitely make it through the day.
I got home and was in my bathroom finishing my bottle of water when I started coughing normally because I drank too much at once.
That was all I needed to do to cause the worst pain of my life.
I guess the cough was too much pressure for my lower back, and I fell to the floor, knees buckling, screaming and crying harder than I ever have before. I saw red.
My mom came running in and after about 20 minutes I was able to get off the floor and onto my bed where the pain wasn't much better. We contemplated the idea of the hospital, but figured it would be best to wait a few hours and see how I was feeling. I called in sick and fell asleep, exhausted from the commotion and pain.
I woke up with no improvements. Only this time, it took me about 2 hours to get out of bed. Not only that, but it took a bucket of tears and a lot of lifting help from my family to get me up. Luckily, my parents had found me an appointment with a chiropractor for an hour from then. It was only a few blocks away, but we had better get going because of how slow I was. We took a car for most of it but had to walk a block. It took me about 5 minutes to get myself out of the car and about another 8 minutes to walk one single block.
We got there and I didn't dare sit down in the waiting room in fear of not being able to get back up. They knew what was going on with me so I was seen pretty quickly.
The chiropractic team did some electric therapy as well as an ultrasound, stretching, ice, and adjustments. Not my favorite way to spend a nice summer day but at least I was in the hands of professionals and they had gotten some of the pain to subside for the time being.
The doctor told me it was either a torn disc or ligament, most likely torn disc, not herniated. Huh? The only time I had ever heard these words were when reporters were talking about sports players. Now these words were describing me.
Fast-forward: I made it home a lot better than before, both mentally and physically, but still had a ways to go. I spoke to a couple people about this who made me feel better and distracted me from the pain.
I spent the rest of the day walking around the apartment while braced and trying to sit up straight. I have doctors appointments for the next four days and a potential MRI scheduled. I am sincerely hoping it doesn't get to that point and that I am able to return to living my life again ASAP.
I don't know if I've recognized the big lesson in this yet. Or maybe I have. I'm also not trying to be pessimistic, because that won't help heal anything, and I don't intend for this to be a "poor me" piece either. If there's anything I really want anyone to take from this, it's to be thankful for the tiniest things in life, like being able to walk or sit or stand or cough without severe pain. I wish I was more aware of those things before I had to work hard to get them back. Also, know your body's limits. Even if that means foregoing an exercise class that you deem necessary to look good or feel good. I was sore, tired, and run down, and I signed myself up for a fitness class that my body couldn't afford at that time, and look where that landed me. Exercise is great but not constantly or when you yourself are far from great in the that way you feel. It's not always worth it. Listen to your body and your mind.
As for the rest, I'm hoping for a speedy recovery and am committed to returning to work and life even stronger than before. But for the meantime to keep myself busy, I'll have to put together some cute back brace outfits and continue stretching, obviously.