A simple message asking for a date and encouragement from some friends seems like the perfect start to a night out right?
Well that’s what I thought 5 years ago when I got a message from D asking me to go for a drink when he finished work. After an encouraging push from a “friend” (who is no longer in my life which is also for the better), I got ready to go out for a few drinks with the “friend” as dutch courage before my date.
I momentary lack of concentration ruined that plan in more ways than I could ever imagined.
Losing my footing at the top of my stairs in my building, I slipped and fell down on my backside down 11 concrete steps.
The pain took over me, unable to catch my breath, I called out and by luck my neighbours heard me.
The next few days I’ll admit are a blur so here is what I remember.
The ambulance came, gave me a lot of gas and air. I got taken to hospital where several nurses, my parents and “friend” all kept giving me into trouble for moving around and wanting to leave. I went for an X-Ray and my instructions went from “you can move your legs around to stop pins and needles” to “Do not move at all”.
Next thing I knew a doctor with a Richard Ashcroft lyric tattoo (no idea why I remember this fact but it just sticks in my mind don’t even ask me what song it was I just remember slagging him off for it) was telling my I had broken my back.
And like that my life was changed.
Compression Fracture of the T7 and T8 vertebrae to be exact. The 2 discs that sit right where your shoulder blades are essentially smaller than they were when I woke up that morning.
I freaked out. I was leaving. My mum threatened to get me sedated because there was no way I was staying.
I was admitted to a spinal ward and put on a fantastic thing called ‘Spinal Protocol’. A delightful thing where you can move your hands and forearms but nothing else.
After a few weeks in hospital, getting scan after scan, sleepless nights and enough pain medication to knock out a small army – I was told I could start to work with a physio to walk again and be fitted with a back brace.
“Ummmm…. I have always been able to walk. I can feel my legs apart from a scary moment when I first woke up the morning after my accident. Why do I have to learn again?”
Turns out that your body after it’s been lying down for several weeks can loose its ability to move as well as before. That coupled with the pain of actually having to stand on my own meant I had to adjust how I walked, moved and everything associated with it.
Another week passed and I was finally discharged to live with my parents again because going home to live by myself was not an option for months.
I was using a walker, wore a back brace and couldn’t take more than a few steps at a time without becoming exhausted.
So the long road to recovery began.
I worked my arse off.
I was not going to be beaten by this.
4 months, appointment after appointment, and a seasons worth of emotional blood, and actual sweat and tears, I was told by my physio I could lose the back brace.
I cried – a lot.
But then the real work started.
This whole experience had given me a different perspective on my life.
Physically I had to get healthier and fitter, it wasn’t an option. If I got overweight my back would hurt and my injury would flare up and I wouldn’t be able to live life the way I want to. This is nothing to do with the inability of over weight people, as I have been told several times when I try to explain myself, it’s just facts for me. As pure and simple as that. The strain of the extra weight on my back would make it hurt and trust me, you will know if you have ever had spinal pain, it is exhausting and makes you miserable.
However, the most profound change is my outlook on relationships.
Sitting for hours, in a bed or a chair makes you realise a lot about yourself.
How your brain ticks over, analysing conversations you’ve had with people who you thought were good for you and in retrospect are the reason you feel bad about yourself.
Realising that the guy who you thought was just an amazing friend for years, that you had fancied from afar thinking it would never go anywhere and who you had finally made plans to go on a date with was really the One all along you were just too dumb to act on it for far too long.
Love you my Bear
That no matter what happens to you – your family will always be there to drop everything and help you get back on your feet and to make you smile through all the tears with conversations that go round in circles about the same things for hours but are just happy to hear you laugh even if it’s just for a second.
And more than anything, despite it feeling like the last feeling in the world in the moment, you are a stronger than you realise. What once was a soul make of tin was now made of titanium.
I knew from that moment on nothing could phase me anymore. I was a changed woman. Continuing to push myself for that one full day where I will be completely pain free and I won’t have to worry about hurting myself by doing something that seems small but could leave me bed/couch bound for a weekend.
I look back at the woman I was 5 years ago with a fondness and familiarity that will never go away. I loved who I was then, but I’m not the same person now.
Now I am a warrior – fighting every day to get stronger and better.
And even though it seems strange to say – if I could go back to 5 years ago, I would do it all again.