It’s been ages since I blogged and I have my reasons I promise. Most recently I’ve spent the majority of the past couple of months flat on my back…. literally. I thought debilitating back pain was just exaggerated or something old people got. That is until it happened to me and I was flung straight into my mid-40’s howling in pain.
What began as a niggling little pain up the side of my leg turned overnight into a scalding iron stick burning a hole from deep within my hip all the way down to my little toe. I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t walk. I literally could not function.
That was early September. Now here I am at the end of October and I’m finally able to stand up straight, but am literally just starting to learn how to walk all over again. Overnight I went from someone who walked at least 6km a day to being incapable of standing up at all.
It’s been a humbling and eye-opening experience. Here are some of the things I’ve learned while lying flat on my back.
Being ill is terrifying
I know we say it every day, how important our health is, but you never realise just what it means until you no longer have it. Lying on my back trying to keep my client work going and wrangling a small child, all showed me just how quickly every aspect of my life can unravel if something goes wrong. Somehow I’ve managed to pull through it, but there were days where I was terrified that I would never be able to walk more than a few steps ever again without being in excruciating pain.
No one truly understands
There were so many wonderful people in my life who supported me through this horrible time, but the truth is no one else really understands what it’s like. One friend looked on in shock when I literally crawled to and from the front door, even though they knew I had back pain, they just had no idea that that’s what it looks like in the flesh. Every day my maid (who usually comes only 3 times a week, but extended her hours to help me) would come in and take a look at me and tell me whether she thought I looked better or worse than the day before. Only a couple of days ago she told me she had no idea how I managed those hours when she wasn’t there (which was 23 hours a day). Honestly, I don’t know how I did either.
Fighting the pain is futile
For a while I tried to fight the pain and just push through. Each time it inevitably set me back. I’m not a patient person, but I learned that I just had to listen to my body and ride out whatever it was feeling. It was the only way I was going to recover.
Support is crucial to sanity
I’m not one who readily asks people to go out of their way to help me, but I found myself in a position where I had no choice. Whether it was asking people to babysit for me while I got an MRI, pick up groceries or clean my house, I asked for support everywhere. And thank god for the system in Bombay that ensures every single household item can be home delivered!
It’s also the first time I’ve really felt isolated from my larger support network in Australia. I missed my parents in particular, so much so they’ve heard from me pretty much every day since my back gave out. While they can’t offer physical support, just having an outlet to talk to and try and work out how to deal with some of the issues I was grappling with really made a difference to my recovery.
You need to have faith. There were many days I doubted I’d be able to walk more than 10 metres without keeling over in pain, but I had faith in myself. Faith that I would succeed no matter how hard it was. It hasn’t been easy, it’s been really really hard.
Although I’m nowhere near healed yet, I can now walk about 200m without stopping. And can stand in the park and push a swing for at least ten minutes at a time. It’s not ideal, but it’s certainly better than I was 6 weeks ago. So hopefully I’ll continue my recovery at the same trajectory. I have faith.
Right now, I guess I’m just taking it one very careful step at a time.