Here’s the thing. It all started out with a very serious back injury which resulted in four screws, two rods and a titanium plate getting embedded in my lower back to hold my spine together. I had my spinal fusion surgery on Jan 8th, 2015. Everything was going well after the surgery until a terrible twist of fate happened. On the 14th day after my surgery, on my way to the toilet in the middle of the night, I blacked out and fell down, tearing my right sacroiliac joint. To make matters even worse, I found out that I had developed inflammatory osteoarthritis, a severely painful condition in my right knee due to tearing of posterior cruciate ligament. Eight months after surgery, I went to my surgeon thinking that it would be my ‘last hospital visit’. When he saw my ‘last and final X-ray of the year’, his face fell. I was in for a rude shock. He informed me that my left side titanium rod was broken and I needed immediate surgery to replace it, or else, there was a possibility that I could end up with permanent nerve damage or even partial paralysis. To top it all up, I have developed an autoimmune disorder that occasionally plays cat and mouse with my immune system, giving me violent feverish ‘attacks.’ For months together, I have been on a constant diet of painkillers, steroids and neuro-depressants, not to mention frequent hospital visits, blood tests, X-rays, MRIs and multiple surgeries. This whole experience has stripped me down from flesh to bones. For a while I pretended that it was not happening to me. I was smiling through it in front of my folks and neighbors. I would go to bed each night thinking that I would feel some improvement in my condition the next day. But it has been exhausting me. Soon, I realized that all my thoughts were pretty much filled with desperation. I have been wallowing in self-pity for several months by now.
This seems to be the immediate trigger for my manic depression. The constant lingering pain that has been gnawing on my bones. But physical pain has also brought forth some long-suppressed emotional pain.
Sometimes I wonder what the Universe is trying to teach me. Is pain my cross to bear? I would sit up in bed and think about where life is going to take me. What if my problem worsens as years pass by? I am not getting any younger. What if my husband or daughter at some point of time, would start getting frustrated with me, ‘ohh….you have nothing else to talk about other than your pain.’ I wondered if I became completely disabled or worse, bed-ridden, who would take care of me? What is to become of me? The weight of that thought would hit me like a ton of bricks.
Pain, chronic fatigue and muscle atrophy. My body has been rebelling against me. Now that I am irrevocably screwed up from behind, I won’t be able to bend or lift weight more than ten pounds. And to make matters worse, my knees have also come undone. I wouldn’t be able to lift my kid or travel alone for the fear of not getting help to carry my luggage. I won’t be able to carry a heavy backpack. I won’t be able to sit or stand or walk for more than what my body can take. And I won’t be able to indulge in many of my favorite activities that used to give me immense joy till now. Like running, cooking, swimming, trekking and riding my bike. Not anymore?
But I still believe that I am much more than this! Though I cannot completely escape from what has happened to me, it is very much possible to stop further degeneration of bones and joints by effectively managing the problem areas by making lifestyle changes. I have promised myself that.
Pain has been a useful teacher. It taught me to stop overdoing things. Continuing physical pain teaches you to listen to your body and stop abusing it. It asks you to relax and take rest. If you don’t heed the advice, it becomes too excruciating, making your body come to a halt on its own. Likewise, continuing emotional pain has taught me to accept the inevitable, to lower my expectations a little, to let go off the past, to stop seeking approval and affection from people who don’t care, to give more love and attention to people who actually care.
I have started respecting pain. But respecting it doesn’t mean I like it.