Goodbye 2012

Let me just greet you by saying, hello.

Also, I hope I can be this lady someday. Awesome pantsuit.

I have been gone awhile, I know, but now I return. Where was I? Well, that answer is long and complicated, but I will give you the abridged version. I was tangled up in one of the hardest years of my life. One reason: last year was a year where my back and neck hurt almost constantly; sleep was difficult, work made it worse, along with standing, walking, running and  a myriad of other tasks. I talked about it a lot, I got sick of myself talking about it. My first problem was, I was in denial. It’s just a little twingey, I would tell myself. Or, it only hurts sometimes. It’s not chronic.

But it was.

Sometime in 2011, while I was living in Portland, I awoke in the middle of the night. I love the image from Madeline, “In the middle of the night Miss Clavel turned on the light and said, Something is not right!”

I awoke violently to intractable back pain. I could not sit up. I could not get out of bed. It was as if I could see the cool silence of the nighttime and then hear myself crying and yelling. I was scaring the shit out of Andy. The only task before me was to get out of bed, I had to get out of bed because laying there was torture. Slowly inch by inch, I shifted to the edge. I forced Andy to help pull me up to standing, screaming as it happened. Once upright, the pain was better, but I was still unable to stand straight.

I made it through that night, barely. I hobbled around the for the next few days and thankfully, didn’t have to work for a little bit. But, I didn’t figure out the why. I chalked it up to just some random event. But really, there was something to it. I just didn’t want to admit that there was a problem. So like any good avoider, I avoided, but complained while I avoided. (that’s the other essential component to being an avoider). Also, I kept working and lifting patients and bending and stooping and shifting and turning. I also kept running. I ran regularly, pushing myself to be faster and better, running half marathons and training for hours in the rain. As if I could run my pain and problems away.  But nobody can do that.

But like any good story, there was a climax. It was March of last year and the pain was getting worse. More constant, and less relief after running. I ran the Mercer Island Half Marathon and I did not feel good. Every mile was challenging. I could feel my lower back tense, like I was wearing an interanl spanx belt — in the worst possible way. Is there a good way to wear spanx? I don’t think so.  I spent a few horrible days afterward in pain and unable to stand straight, deciding then and there that I had to deal with this, my pain was real.  I was a 30 year old with chronic back pain.

So I did deal with it.

It took me twenty visits to the chiropractor, 8 months of physical therapy and two dozen massages later. But it worked. There was no magic pill and it isn’t perfectly better, sometimes it hurts after a long day. I still have to do my core workout, work on my posture and keep in shape, but I am most certainly, not in regular pain. I can run again. I can bend over and do chores, but don’t tell Andy that part.

The thing is, I learned so much about myself through it. I learned that I wait till the last possible moment to deal with things, and instead I let myself be afraid, building up the problem into a giant messy pile that feel insurmountable. I also learned that I can do it, I can work hard and set my mind to something – and it works. One exercise at a time, one bridge and plank and Pilates class at a time until I laid a new foundation and changed my life.  It’s a simple as that, and as complicated as that. I’m not writing this for kudos, I am writing to be real and to explain part of my absence. I am also writing to say, you can do anything.

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