Back in March of this year my back started hurting. It became very difficult to bend at all and then straighten up. I've had back pain off and on since I was 21, and it always went away eventually, but this got worse. So much worse. I finally sought help from a chiropractor, then an orthopedic surgeon, who referred me to a pain management doc, and then finally ended up in physical therapy.
At its worst, the pain I had was excruciating. I would get lengthy, paralyzing spasms that would drop me to my knees. I walked around carefully hoping to avoid spasms. Many, many times they just grabbed me and then I'd be sore for the rest of the day, and also susceptible to having more. This was the scariest thing I've ever gone through, physically. No, it's nothing like having a life threatening illness --- I'd never compare it to that. But it briefly took away a lot of my optimism and my joie de vivre. I didn't think I'd get better, even with surgery as an option.
I learned a lot about myself (I'm stubborn, prideful and impulsive!) and those close to me during this. I also got a glimpse of what it's like to be in pain and feel like you're burdening people too much talking about it. It's a terrible feeling! Thankfully, there were very few people around me who made me feel that way. And maybe they didn't, by the way, "make me feel that way". Maybe it was my stupid pride making me feel that way. (See? I believe I've learned something.) In any case, I hope I remember this feeling when someone I love is in pain and needs to talk. And talk and talk and talk. Please let me have learned that lesson!
Thankfully, I didn't jump into surgery. I listened to the pain management doctor (and a very bright friend on Twitter,@SarahWW!) and went to physical therapy. I listened and made a rational choice rather than an emotional choice borne out of pain. And the good news is, I'm mostly pain free now. Some niggling aches, but I'm moving around freely and I'm almost ready to get back to regular gym time. There are many times I shake my head, thinking "Would I have gotten better if someone had pointed me to PT first? How can this have been so simple?" I don't really know. I only know that I'm grateful for getting there and for the results.
What I really want to say is: Thank you. Thank you for being there. Thank you for asking about me and writing me, calling me. Supporting me. Thank you for caring. Thank you for lifting me up when I was down. I needed that.
It hurt. But getting through it was so much easier with the support I got through it all. I won't forget it.