When I broke my spine again, I had a small child to look after. I should have been on bed rest, followed by bracing and possibly in a plaster jacket as well. When driving, I would psyche myself to go through a roundabout, as the pain would make me scream when I turned the wheel. Once a week my daughter would go to occasional care, and I would crawl back into bed. ABC kids was a godsend in the months that followed. I had to take heavy-duty painkillers, and relied on buses to ferry us about as driving was out for the most part. My daughter and I danced in a coordinated manner, and she would help me in so many ways. It made our bond stronger, and she reflected the enormous pride she felt in assisting me. I could either sink or swim, and my child kept me buoyant. Pneumonia followed, as I couldn’t breathe from the base of my lungs. Home Care sent a dear soul to clean up my house once a week. I looked out the front window, and saw an elderly lady struggling up the three steps to the front door. She would groan, trying to vacuum and wince when she mopped. We ended up having cups of tea on her visits, she regaling me with stories of days gone by. I couldn’t put her to work!
My local neurosurgeon says that he cant operate for pain relief, as it simply wouldn’t help. When structurally I am unable to walk, or breathe, then we will go in. He encouraged me on my last visit, telling me I am doing a good job. I have to keep moving, and exercise every day. Whether it be a walk, swim or visit to the gym, it helps. I feel connected to a body I spend quite a bit of time attempting to escape. I do weights, and work out on the cross trainer, as it doesn’t provoke agony afterward. A scientist friend put me onto Zen Spray by Martin and Pleasance after I broke my back again. I find it helpful, and it can be used on fracture sites. I have a lumbar brace, which holds me together and provides some comfort. I use a walking stick, as without it, I fall over, particularly when tired. I have learnt not to compare my days with others. Anything accomplished, whether it be sitting at my desk, or pegging up washing, is a triumph. I take medication to help with the pain at night so I can catch a few hours sleep, and if I have a busy day coming up, I have to plan for it. That means resting before and after, just laying flat, and pain killers. I have a TENS machine, which I use frequently, and wintergreen oil helps soothe the arthritis.
I will be trialling new hormones to compensate the bone loss in the next few months, and seeing my neurosurgeon at St Vincent’s. I feel blessed. When I suffered the breaks through the thoracic region, my right arm couldn’t be lifted high, and I suffered constant tingling. It is somewhat better, enough that I can write and grip things. Positive self-talk is a must for the mornings I crawl to the bathroom. “You can do this!” I insist. When I am out and the pain ramps up, I work out how much longer I have to be upright before I can rest. Funnily, it helps. “Almost there!”
One wrong move, or carrying too much weight, and I can feel (and hear), the scaffolding go. I have come home from grocery shopping in agony, which nothing tempers. Relaxation music and meditative cds are a blessing as I try to escape the pain at night. Bowen therapy has also been a help when the pain isn’t acute. It is worth trying to maintain your mobility and limit the daily pain. I know what it is like to feel helpless, to have pain drag you down. I know what it is like to feel isolated, removed from the wonderful things going on outside you. Be kind to yourself, surrender when you need to, and do something that shall help you feel good. It is a mental battle, living with pain. Be your best advocate.