Halfway between Home and the Northern Beaches


The Saturday started off with a vibe of foreboding. We had errands to run at the local shops, and my back pain was a 20/10. It was so bad that I had to take one of my night-time medications whilst I was out, just to cope with the travel back home. I couldn’t have walked another step without it. Back home, I had a bath, and rubbed every liniment I owned onto my spine. I zapped my back, braced it, and would have chanted had it promised to help. I had no time for this nonsense! We were all packed to go see our dear friends on the Northern Beaches, and I wasn’t going to let anything stop us. My left kidney is twice as big as the right, and my spine is putting pressure on it, and other organs. My spinal canal is so narrow that they can’t loop wires up it to fit a spinal cord stimulator. Still, I press on. I have to ensure that my determination at the very least matches the force of the nerves being crushed. Yay! we made it onto the bus toward the station. I bit my lip every time we went over a bump, to the point that the inside of my mouth started bleeding. The train came on time, but then stopped abruptly at regular intervals. Apparently, the Vivid festival had caused public transport chaos. I started to feel anxious, knowing that I only had a finite amount of time before the pain ramped up again. I wanted to be safely encased in our friend’s home when it did.

The train stopped before Circular Quay and we were told that we couldn’t proceed for a while. Thirty minutes later, we rolled into Wynyard station. We needed to get the B-Line bus to the Northern Beaches, and there was nobody around to tell us where to go. We wandered the perimeter outside the station, and missed the first bus. My confusion grew, as the pain ramped up. Taking deep breaths hurt, as did trying to correct my posture. My right leg went from under me, leaving me with one functional leg, a walking stick and suitcase. Dismayed, I thought about returning home. I knew I would feel worse if I abandoned the visit we had all been looking forward to. I was halfway between home and our friend’s. Exhausted, we hopped on the next bus. I was climbing the walls in pain, and there were no seats. My daughter watched as commuters got off, and was on her way to secure a seat for me when a guy carrying a case of beer pushed past and sat down. She was having none of it, and demanded that he get up; that her mother needed the seat more than his beer!

An hour passed, and when we alighted, our friends were waiting. We were encased in hugs and love, and fed a curried vegetable pie. We listened to the Beatles and the next day, went to the beach. If we hadn’t gone, I would have felt sad at what the never-ending pain has taken from me. I would have felt awful for my daughter and our friends, who would have been understanding, but nonetheless…I would have missed the last hot day before winter curled it’s icy fingers around Sydney. I would have missed so much. Beauty, love and art… That is what makes life bearable. Particularly if you are going out of your mind with pain.

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I am more than my pain


Last week, I watched a young woman jog by my house. We exchanged greetings, and I was hit by a body memory which revealed itself as sadness. I recalled that I had once roller-skated, rode a bike and horses, gone on amusement rides, danced, done yoga and aerobics. I was a very active kid, and loved to jog. These were my happy times, when I celebrated being in my body, rather than feeling detached. I loved putting my headphones on, and running for miles. I loved being able to contort my body, skating on ice and in the rink. I even loved the war wounds from falls off my bike after performing a hazardous stunt. No wonder I so enjoy watching my child perform extraordinary feats! She reminds me of myself as a kid.

When my spine broke, it all stopped. It was like a grandfather clock seized ticking when it’s owner died. I told myself that none of it mattered, that being alive was reward enough. It certainly was, but there was nobody to confide in for the grief of what was taken. It took years to overcome the panic of having a spine entirely fused. It feels unnatural, like somebody has glued you together as a statue, with immovable parts. Your mind craves the liberty of being able to stretch and bend, only you can’t. It was worse when the rods and Hartshill rectangle were inside my spine. I could feel the wires and screws, and desperately wanted them gone. For somebody that had been so active, I now had to go back to basics, applauding myself when I walked a hallway or up a solitary stair. Cheering myself on when I managed to lift my arms. It took years to retrieve the pieces of my psyche that had been thrown in the air. It has taken years to not feel trapped, as if I was in a permanent body cast.

I have done my utmost to feel like the spirited, irrepressible girl I had once been. As I age, my spine is getting worse. Taking deep breaths is breathtakingly hard. Sitting hurts, walking hurts, everything hurts, all the time. The recent diagnosis of Trigeminal Neuralgia has been hard to take. At a time in my life when I need to steer my daughter towards her high school years, and kick my own goals, my head is now complaining. Where once I would have climbed a tree or gone to the rink to skate as an emotional release, it is now found in theatres and cinemas. The bar was forcibly reset when I was fifteen, and triumphs are uncovered in how I get through my days. There is my daughter and I, doing life together, alongside a fragile spine, neck and head.

She went bowling a while ago, and when I told her friend’s mother that no, I wouldn’t be able to take part, she answered, ‘there’s not much you can do, is there?’ It took my breath away, such was the punch in the gut. She boasted of all the physical activities that she shares with her child. I know she didn’t mean to hurt me, but it hurt nonetheless. I have had to drown out the opinions of others, and remember that I coped with pregnancy when they were concerned I wouldn’t be able. I coped as a new mother, training in preparation by carrying around bags of potatoes and oranges whilst still pregnant. I did weights so my arms would be strong enough to hold her. My triumphs are quite different to other’s.

I fulfil my obligations to the best of my abilities and find joy in each day. Pain and gratitude can live together within one’s body. There are weeks that are truly horrendous, and not just due to pain. I require catheterization, and sometimes, there just isn’t the money to  buy the necessary amount of disposable’s for the week. That alone costs over $100. I ration myself,  to the point where my bladder isn’t damaged. Medications, specialist appointments and tests all cost above what my private health fund covers. Then there are the aides that make life easier. To be able to laugh and enjoy life in spite of it all, requires some doing at times! It can be devastatingly lonely, and frustrating. The stuff you don’t see on social media. I tend to go to ground, readying myself for the next round, particularly when I know there are busy days ahead.

I can cope with the medical stuff, and am preparing for quite a wild ride this year. There will be having fractured teeth pulled, root canals, impacted wisdom teeth, possibly having spinal cord stimulation and surgery for the TN. There will be medications to keep me going also, and trials for this and that. I just wish I could join my daughter in her trampolining and acrobatics. I wish I could go skating with her and climb trees. It’s funny, even though I am frightened of heights, I was never panicked whilst in the canopy of a tree. I felt safe. There is a tightrope to walk between acknowledging one’s pain and limitations and living life large. Concessions must be made, such as spacing out activities and factoring in rest. I am not ready to wave the white flag yet. Schooling my daughter these past four years has been a joy, and has given me such a wondrous gift. I know the best is yet to come, for her and I.

So there you have it, the blasted conundrum of living within an altered body. Feeling frustrated and angry, sad and exhausted, whilst also having a spirit of gratitude and wonder. Yes, wonder; at how you have adapted to your changing circumstance. Wonder at how beautiful life is. Gratitude that the arts have been able to replace physical feats as a means of release. I see my wounds as a gift of sorts. Animals and strangers come up to me routinely, as though they sense the vulnerability of a wounded person, and are drawn to it. It makes you approachable, and others tend to see you as someone they can confide in. It is a privilege, a compensation for the piercing pain. Time is too pressing and life too extraordinary to waste on nonsense; pain teaches you that. Time is a master that needs to be obeyed, and is followed to the second. My mind can cope if I prescribe it a timetable, and it knows that rest is coming up shortly.

I am learning as I go, often making up new rules on the spot. I am in it for the long haul, and can adapt as needed. I grieve when memories come up of skating and bowling, riding bikes and running. I grieve as needed, and acknowledge as required. There may be activities I can no longer partake in, but doing life isn’t one of them!

Coping with Chronic Pain


Some of my friends are in horrific pain from long-standing injuries. I have watched their struggles and bravery in absolute awe, and have been suprised at times when they ask me how the hell I manage. I reply that I could inquire the same of them! This past year, I had referals to see a neurosurgeon, urologist and attend a pain clinic. Have I been? The answer is no. I couldnt afford the time, which is a reason high on the list. Home schooling my daughter and attempting to finish a book has seen me beg for leave. Just as I feared I wouldnt be able to prolong what shall need to be done, I found I could get through. I want to wait until my daughter is a little older, until more structures are in place, both financially and otherwise. I have a remarkable friend who is in the process of having a neuro stimulator installed, and this may well be where I am heading. In the meantime, this is what I do to cope.

  1. Hot shower first thing in the morning. I have a seat in the shower, and let the heat spray on my spine. I then apply a mixture of essential oils (such as Wintergreen),  or a liniment to my spine.
  2. I use a back brace, which supports my abdomen and lower spine. It is extraordinary, the amount of support this gives. I got fitted at a medical supply store.
  3. Whenever I am sitting, I use a lumbar roll cushion in the small of my back to provide support. If I didn’t have this, I would need to lay down more than I do already!
  4. To support my spine and my kidneys, I drink a lot of water and herb tea each day. It is particularly important as I self-catheterize.
  5. I try to walk at least thirty minutes each day, or work with weights at home.
  6. I spend several hours a day laying propped up on support pillows on my orthopaedic bed. People don’t usually realize this, but it is a necessity after a particularly busy day! I am often in bed by 6.30pm. Fortunately, you can take your work with you!
  7. I was recently on a camp with my daughter. I knew that we would have a hectic schedule, and be sleeping on air mattresses. I advised my doctor, and made sure I had extra pain relief to help me cope. I also took my trusty TENS machine!
  8. I scheduled a rest day for when I arrived home. I needed it!
  9. I try not to compare my schedule with other people’s. Their journey is their own, particularly if they aren’t deaing with chronic pain and incapacitation. I can only do what I can.
  10. It is okay and normal to have down days; times when the pain is relentless and steals every ounce of energy. Roll with it. Your body needs to stop.

Be kind to yourself and don’t over-commit. It’s okay to play it by ear and see if you are up to activities on the day. It is a miracle that you are functioning at all, so give yourself a pat on the back! There will come a time when I will accept further treatment, and I will be grateful for it. Every life has seasons, and the time of reparation and recuperation shall arrive. In the interim, I listen to the concordant trill of birds. I sit outside in the sunshine and eat my lunch with a light breeze tapping my shoulder. I see friends and post silly memes to give myself a giggle. I try to reduce life into bite-size pieces of beauty, and live in the moment.

Slowing Down and Crumbling Spines


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I seem to have entered the next phase of my journey. I had been trying to cope with my spinal pain with minimal pain relief for several years, something I can no longer do. My MRI results showed that the remaining discs are reduced to something akin to chalk-dust and my spine is riddled with arthritis, pressing on the nerves. The pain management program has ramped up, and is necessary to keep me moving. I have had a strange sense of vulnerability as a result. Some of the medication makes me tired, and I have had to have early nights. I find it hard to remember the names of people I don’t see often, and find going to large social events trying, as I am away with the pixie’s. I want to be quiet, have rest and not have too many commitments. Sitting for long periods is agonizing and I need to move around. I have to plan everything well in advance, even the weight in the lunchbox I carry when attending excursions with my daughter. I am dreading winter as I know too well the agony that grips my frame. I have to know the time it will take to get somewhere and when I can expect to leave. If I am prolonged, it can mean a day in bed afterward. A day lost. I have left items in stores as the weight would be too much to carry. I have had to pardon myself from the table so I can move around outside. There are hundreds of examples I could give you. Things people without this damage wouldn’t think about at all. My doctor said that elderly ladies’ she knows find their spinal pain excruciating when ironing. I need to dose myself up before this task, and look on with dismay as the laundry basket fills with items needing to be ironed. I have the spine of an eighty year old, and somehow it has to keep me going for the next half of my life.

My daughter and I have a synchronised routine. At the dishwasher, she deals with the lower section. She loads the front-loader in the laundry and puts the washing on the line and takes it off. We have our dance, and it works well, an unwritten love and understanding flowing back and forth. I have high hopes that within the next decade, they will be able to rebuild and strengthen backs with a simple injection. I am walking several kilometres most days, in spite of the pain. Living in a semi-rural environment helps you escape the confines of your body and focus instead on the nearby river, the kookaburra’s and cockatoos, their laughter delighting  my angst-ridden mind.

I need to have some of my back teeth rebuilt, after they came loose on a sesame cracker. I would rather have spinal surgery, the truth be told! You have to laugh; I was trying to limit my intake of bread, so for lunch ate these gluten-free, rock-hard crackers, and lost my teeth! Even if I end up in a wheelchair, I honestly wont mind. I am so grateful for the years I have had being able to walk. I am grateful I got to carry this child, despite the odds. I am happy with my lot in life, even if I have to plan my itinerary of a day as if embarking on a mountain trek! It is about focusing on what you have, not what has been subtracted from your life. I will need to recalibrate my life, and my expectations of myself, but it wont be the first time I have had to do so. The headaches from the Lyrica have finally stopped, just as I have been advised to double the dose. Always a mountain to climb. As long as the backpack holds a tolerable weight, it will be okay.

 

Negotiations


I am amazed and delighted that my last post, Who Am I, resonated with so many of you! I try my best to negotiate each day as a free spirit, unencumbered by my body, whilst at the same time, factoring in the need for rests and a regime. I am sure that those of you with physical challenges can relate to the following scenarios. Our local movie house has a ramp, from the ground level to the 2nd level. One has to stop at the first floor to get tickets and snacks. There is a lift, but it operates with a key which is often hidden under detritus in the office. Trying to negotiate the long walk with tickets, drink, popcorn and a walking stick is arduous. I don’t want to hold up my friends by waiting until the lift is available. I don’t want special treatment, or to draw attention to myself.

The second scenario is when you have your day planned. It may be a day in the city. I have a regime drawn up, stating what time I will be at particular places and when I expect to leave. My body holds me to the promise of pain relief and rest at particular times. If I am held up, there is hell to pay. It is a different way of being; engaging with the world, whilst having limitations. A fine juggling act.

I panic if I am home later than I anticipated. I know there will be hell to pay. It may be no sleep that night, or vomiting because I had to take extra pain relief and the side effect is nausea. The danger with the pain relief is that I am agreeable to most things, and the pain is discounted. I am floating! I sure come down to earth with a thud when it wears off!

I still hold to the theory that I am not my pain, nor my body. Do you suddenly become a car because you are driving one? It is just that my vehicle is a little rusty, and has to be treated tenderly. Perhaps I will wait for the lift at the movies, to make life easier on myself.

Stopping…


The past five years, in particular, have seen me running around, unable to pause. It were as though there was a big scary monster pursuing me. I became embroiled in the world of demanding schedules, with cross-cultural references, faces and world news seared into my mind. If I stopped, I would have to acknowledge grief. I would have to feel physical pain. Hell, I may even cry and fall apart. I was on a trajectory of keeping my name out there, producing work and being connected. It helped that I desired to escape the house as much as possible. Armed with a little bag of snacks and my Opal card, I ran. I move to a beautiful and peaceful home and what happens? Every memory is vying for attention. Within the peace has come a storm.

I had to laugh the other night. My daughter was cuddled up next to me, and I woke with the most excruciating lower back pain at 1am. I fumbled in my bedside drawer and found my TENS machine. Drowsily attaching the pads, I turned it on. I gave myself quite the electric shock, as I had unwittingly put it onto top speed! I lay there in agony, laughing whilst trying not to disturb my daughter. I read a book the other day, and it described in great detail, the ward at the Children’s Hospital where I had spent many weeks at thirteen. It talked of the ICU. The moments I was actually asleep, were spent dreaming of these places. The smells, sights and sounds were alive.

I have just wanted to sit and cry. Chronic pain is merciless and cruel. Trying to manage life takes everything I have. I will book in for scans to see where I am up to. My main goal is to keep walking. If that is threatened,  I will have surgery. At the moment, I am preparing meals, meditating, setting up a new computer and preparing to write a new book, detailing some of Sydney’s secrets. I am exhausted and excited at the same time. I know I have a degree of depression, but its hard to tell what is caused solely by not sleeping and being in pain. It is confusing, to be able to laugh whilst feeling crummy. To have anxiety when the phone rings and yet be able to do other scary things. Damn, we are complex beings!

I sit and grieve for those whom I lost. Grief doesn’t happen on cue, rather it comes upon us like a wave crashing in. Physical pain is the same. Sometimes it can be held back so as to be tolerable, whilst other times, it cant. Just as I have times where I can sleep for 12 hours through exhaustion, so I have times when I sit and cry. There is nothing to be done, but feel it and allow it. I look out at this rainy day and see the torrent. I also see how it is nourishing the many rose buds in my garden. This week, I am not going anywhere. I am staying home, putting on my brace as though it were a seatbelt and preparing myself. Songs are coming into my mind, alongside memories. Its okay. I am going to be okay.

Alongside the full calendar and buzzing phone is a woman desperate for rest. I just can’t do things at the moment. I need to process what I am thinking and feeling. How often do we actually do that? Allow ourselves time to determine what it is ours and what belongs to other people? When I am done, I shall return to society with a full cup, rather than a cracked glass, leaking fluid, rather like my spinal discs. Dancer, the budgie, has had moments of jealousy since we got Noel the cockatiel. If Noel dares to toddle near her, she has a tendency to let off a string of budgie expletives and try to pull her tail. I have just had to assure Dancer that she is valuable and just as loved. If I go into retreat, I hope I am just as loved as during the times when I am flitting from event to event. There is nothing that anyone can help me with. I just need rest, to come up from the tidal wave of 2015. To scan this spine and cleanse my heart and mind.

Rain doesn’t last forever, but its effects are felt deep in the soil. I am coming out of a haze even I cant fully comprehend. I think that is what keeps us silent about these times. We find it hard to articulate what is going on within us. After having a baby, we were once kept in hospital for quite a while. Sundays were a day of rest. School holidays were spent in unscheduled splendour. Maybe it’s time to just be and let the days unfurl again.

 

 

 

Festivities of 2015



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At a time when I wanted to be up and running, my back screamed ‘no!’  Pain medication was upped and I have needed to lay flat in between all the craziness of the season. I know I shall require further surgery, but there is a lot to consider. Two people who are dear to me have had major issues since their spinal operations. It is indeed a risky business. There is also the cost, rehabilitation and time spent recovering to think about. It does my head in. My neurosurgeon has said that it will provide no relief from pain, though structurally shall be necessary. I wait and I breathe through it. I hope to get through 2016 without surgery. I am going to plan better and have adequate rest between outings. Adapting and accepting what is… No more running around. It has been good, this stopping. I didn’t have Wi-Fi until yesterday, and I lost my phone somewhere in our new home. I pottered and played games with my daughter. We talked and organized. It was grand.

I made a trip into Sydney before Christmas, and caught up with these wonderful friends. There was torrential rain, and we got wet as we explored our ever-changing city. Anything can happen in Sydney, and you meet wondrous characters, such as this cluster of elves.

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We went to see some local lights with two majestic Samoyed’s and didn’t get far as everyone wanted to pat, photograph and talk to them! They did meet The Grinch and Santa Claus, however.

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Christmas Day, we went to our friend Dianne’s for lunch. She had a lovely assortment of relatives and friends at her place, and Santa even made an appearance! I sampled Yorkshire pudding, bread and butter sauce, trifle and a vegetarian feast. Dianne loves Christmas, and by the time you leave her house, you tend to adore it too. The warmth around that table was outstanding. It was a celebratory feast, for Dianne has faced the eye of a storm and is still standing. How she did it, I just don’t know.

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My daughter expressed concern about Santa’s lack of a tummy. He is English, as it turns out, and fond of running marathons in thongs. I love seeing Australia through this UK family’s eyes. They point out things I have failed to notice, and make me fall in love with Oz anew. Whether it be a native tree, or a whimsical birdsong, it is all appreciated.

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We then went to our friend Mel’s house to be with her family. I may have brought my blender and prepared Mojito’s, as well as a cocktail of fresh peaches and champagne. Mel’s mum complained that her Mojito wasn’t strong enough (the other grown-ups watered it down with soda water), and I felt vindicated! Channing Tatum was brought out, as per tradition, and made to pose. The girls performed a delightful dance, and we played games. There was sadness, as my friend lost her father this year. His absence was felt acutely. We held onto each other; how I wished I could change the events of 2015 for them all. Why does the world tend to lose good people early? I had to excuse myself once or twice to dab my eyes. I shall always treasure this gentle man, and the qualities he carried. I hope that you all have men in your lives with similar traits.

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I received some beautiful gifts. Amongst them was a folder I discovered on my doorstep. I thought it so clever. The take a break bag contained tea and chocolate. The pamper pack contained bath salts and a tea light candle. There was a pen, a calendar, inspirational cards to cut out, colouring in and strategies to help you cope when you are finding it hard. Such a heartfelt and precious gift.

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My friend had also included knitted bracelets and incense in her wondrous care package.

I received this 2016 Memories bottle from Dianne and her family.

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Isn’t this a beautiful idea? I shall fill it to the brim with every kindness shown me. Every occasion that has sweetened my life shall be noted.

Boxes for Christmas  is a local organization, that gives people living in aged care facilities their only Christmas present. These people never receive visitors. Imagine their joy upon receiving a gift from someone who cares on Christmas Day. I thought it was a brilliant idea! I was  touched that a friend purchased a box in my name.

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It was a quiet Christmas, and one of great physical pain, but friends made it bright, and my daughter had a magical time as a result. My back used to be made of steel rods, and I was rigid. Now is the time for fluidity and acceptance. As I age, my spine is deteriorating. There have been mornings when it’s just too much, and I think of going to hospital. I know that if I did, I would be back on the trajectory of scans, surgeons and theatre. I am not ready. So, I whimper in the shower, spray a concoction that burns and provides comfort, and do my brace up tight. Whilst there are friends and birds, children and light in the world, I will continue, just at a slower pace. May 2016 bring this world the peace it so desperately craves. May it begin with us.

 

 

 

 

 

My Spine.


Since my back was broken in the fall at fifteen years of age, I have had almost twenty years of intense pain. Operations, grafts, casts, hardware, braces, physio…I have endured pain that I never would have imagined. I lead a ridiculously full life in spite of it all. At fifteen, I had a hip graft and Harstshill rectangle wired in. The next year, the hardware was taken out as it had slipped out of place. At seventeen, I had operations to save my life, as my spine had collapsed, crushing my stomach, heart and lungs. At twenty, I had surgery to remove the rods screwed alongside my spine. Nobody knew how I would cope or be able to hold myself up without them.

Harrington Rods.
Harrington Rods.
I had further surgeries to shrink the three remaining discs after they bulged out. I went through pregnancy with metal filings and chunks of bone lodged in my spinal canal (too risky to remove), and a spine made out of old hip and rib grafts, fused from the thoracic region down. I would have endured hell itself to have this child. I went to the physio department of my local hospital regularly, and did hydrotherapy daily. Some days, the pain was disabling, and I was in a wheelchair toward the end of my pregnancy. I developed gestational diabetes and had to inject insulin, and when I went into labour, my sugar levels were uncontrolled. The obstetrician couldn’t risk a general anaesthetic, and we had to chance administering a spinal anaesthetic. I was warned that there was a risk I could be permanently paralysed, and they only had one opportunity to get it in place. I breathed deeply and didn’t move an inch, and it worked!

Throughout the next year, my spine was weaker, and as my oestrogen levels dropped-the result of medication I was taking for endometriosis- my bones weakened. I slipped over when my daughter was two, and heard a frightful snap in my back. The pain was so intense, I could hardly breathe. With no-one else around, I had to pick myself up, and take the stroller back to my car. I drove home, knowing that I had broken my spine. I certainly had, from T10-T12. For those who have injured their backs, the following will make sense to you. In my MRI report, it stated, “At C5/6 there is arthrosis bilaterally, contributing to foraminal narrowing on the right (foramina are channels where nerve roots exit the spinal cord). At C6/7 posterior broad based disc osteophyte (bone spur), protrusion is seen. In the thoracic spine, there is anterior wedging of T7 vertebral body with approximately 30% loss of height anteriorly. Subchondral bruise related to the left T6 costovertebral junction, being degenerate in nature. In the lumbar spine, posterior step deformity of L2 relative to L1 remains. Disc dessication (dried up discs), are present at L5/S1. At L4/5, there is a degree of facet arthropathy of the large ligament in back. L3/4 there is again arthropathy associated with scar tissue related to previous laminectomy, involving much of the upper lumbar spine. At L2/3 the facet arthropathy indents the posterior aspect of thecal sac (the membrane surrounding the spinal cord).”

The report above was tabled almost five years ago. Things have gotten worse. Being in early menopause has made the pain more intense and my bones more fragile. An attempted murder half a lifetime ago, and I deal with the aftermath daily. I can handle the pain, but what hurts is not being able to go horse riding with my daughter, nor skating, nor cycling. If I fell over, the damage would be catastrophic. How do I cope, and what have I learnt? I will tell you in my next blog piece.

The surgeon.


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I walked reluctantly to the neurosurgeon’s rooms. “I don’t want to be here!” my mind screamed. I had seen him four years prior, after slipping over in my town. I had heard a snap in my back, and sure enough, I had broken my spine in several places through the thoracic region. He sent me for an MRI, and I had it, but never went back to him. I couldn’t face it at the time. I had a small child, practically a baby. I was nervous about seeing him again. Would he be angry with me? I was immediately put at ease. He put me through an examination, and found there is quite a significant deficit in the nerves through my right side,from my foot to my hand. I cried when he said he was in awe of me and how I kept going. He knows the pain is severe, and he knows nothing he does will make it better. “How did you survive that fall? Nobody could survive that!” he exclaimed. He wants me to bring a copy of my book to give his daughter. I told him that his praise meant a lot. More tests have been ordered, and I am going back in July. A day I was dreading-which had dredged up the crime responsible for this appointment-had been transmuted into a day of clarity, pride and redemption.