on awakening and self-sacrifice – pt. 2

weight-support

Using crystal clear images, the doctor explained that the MRI revealed that I required surgery.  The doctor told me he could get me in same day.  I thought, what you talkin’ bout Willis?  Seriously, I needed a second opinion.

This meant I would get sent home with copious amounts of pain medications until such opinion could be had.  The second opinion doctor also said I needed surgery so on to a third opinion I went.  The third agreed with the other two but added that I could forego surgery if I could live with the pain and further damage was not incurred.

According to all of them, my body would not be able to correct the damage on its own. I had limited use of my body at this point.  I was not able to sit, barely able to stand, had a pronounced and painful limp and my reprieve, laying down, left me in tears. What was I to do?

I called up the last doctor who had provided me his opinion and left him one question by voicemail.

“If I get the surgery, will I need to get it again in the future?”  

He called me back and left a voicemail, which I saved and still have today.  He said,

“Unless you get hit by a bus, you will need to get future surgeries at least every 5-10 years”.

I was 35 at the time and in my mind calculated a potential ten more surgeries.  No way in hell was I going to do this. I could not afford to have a body in a state of constant fixing, surgery recovery and rehabilitation.

On the day I listened to the voicemail I was lying on my stomach in bed working on my laptop.  I could barely lift my head to type out an e-mail.  I owned a business and could not tell my clients I was debilitated.  I needed to keep making money and could not support my family with disability. Looking back, cannot believe I did not lose one client in the three months I could not walk or think straight.

I needed help going to the bathroom and more than once was at risk for immediate surgery in periods when I could not urinate at all. I was crying nonstop throughout the day and night such that I started bargaining with God about what I would do to change my life if He would only relieve me from this affliction.

I was on morphine, oxycodone and another ‘breakthrough’ pain med I cannot recall.  On all three of these medications I was still in severe, yes, severe past #10 on the pain chart pain.  Much later, I would undergo drug-gene testing to determine that my body was metabolizing all of the medications too quickly. For me, this meant they all worked when I initially ingested them, for about an hour, but that unless I wanted to kill myself by overdose, I needed to wait until the next prescribed times to take more.

Prior to this ‘grounding’, I had been on the go from sun up to sun down. From client to client, school to school, domesticating to domesticating.  Now, like a tranquilized bear, I had nothing to do but focus on how to get through the day without wanting to die. I was left contemplating life, where I was and where I was going.

One day in tears I looked at my husband and not for the first time, expressed that the weight of responsibility in our marriage was not fair. He said things would change, but, he had said that before. We had endured years of counseling and a move to another state, all on that promise.

Yet, here we were. I was squinting my eyes at the glaring truth that I had purposefully worked to make myself too busy to face. It was this day that I knew in my heart our marriage was over. 

The truth was that the only changes were continued weight being added to my back, which I allowed with a smile.  After all, I was ‘strong‘ and could do anything thrown my way.  So it was, I created my own monster and a self-inflicted breaking point.

I see now that my pain was a physical manifestation of a spiritual truth.  I could no longer bear the weight of all that I was carrying. I needed to fix myself so did research and ultimately decided to fast then change my diet to eliminate all animal products. Thank you, Gary Yourofsky, wherever you are.

I got better though I had a severe limp and recurring falls from numbness caused by nerve damage. I could not feel my left leg or foot and after nerve testing, my neurologist explained that it was likely that only 15-20% of my nerves would regenerate within the next six months to a year, and that I should expect permanent numbness along with some form of a limp.

Another three months went by when I refused to leave the house for fear of falling. Every fall had re-injured my back.  In addition, I did not want to explain to any client that might want to walk anywhere that I was a fall risk.

In all this time, my back continued to get better, evidenced by follow-up MRIs. It was enough that life went back to ‘normal’ pain where I did not need any medication, including Tylenol. My nerves did regenerate over the next six months, capped at 90%.

Every doctor was wrong in their estimation of the healing capabilities of my body.  All four.

Next stop, Awakening…

What am I grateful for?

  • A TENS Unit.  I’ll never know if it worked or whether it had a placebo effect.  Happy for an alternative distraction that was not invasive.
  • Acupuncture.  Every session put me into a deep sleep for one hour within 5 minutes.  It did not relieve my pain but did provide deep relaxation, which encouraged healing.
  • Eat to Live and The China Study.  Incorporating Eat to Live recipes was intense (lots of prep) but I am convinced it directly impacted my healing.
  • A holistic pain medicine doctor.  Rather than just dispense pain meds, he required psychotherapy and physical therapy as part of his program, understanding that all go together to promote total healing.

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