A year ago today my back began braking. I reached behind a bookcase to pick up a book that had fallen behind and felt a twinge. It all went down hill from there. (Although it didn’t break completely until March 31st.)
A year ago today, I thought it was just a rough patch and I’d be good as new in a week.
A year ago today, I didn’t know that grocery stores were places you visited on “good days”. I didn’t know all the ways to get dressed without pissing off my back. I didn’t know I’d be in bed for eight weeks, unable to walk without assistance. I didn’t know I’d have the surgery I so adamantly was against, because it was really my only option. I didn’t know my future husband would have to be my primary caregiver for 12 months, doing all my laundry, cooking most meals, and all around providing (literal) support when I needed it. I didn’t know I’d go through two doctors, four MRI’s, one cat scan, countless x-rays and prescriptions, and seven months of rehab just to be where I am now- better than I was before surgery, but nowhere near where I thought I would be seven months post-op.
It’s hard looking at the year mark and knowing how much more work still needs to be done. I’ve had many setbacks in this journey: a car accident (the most recent one we’re dealing with), sacroiliac joint dysfunction, going back to work, and infection in my spine. (And those are just the ones since the surgery!) I meet with two doctors tomorrow- one to find out what damage happened from the accident, the other a rheumatologist to see if arthritis might be a factor in all this. I’m praying for answers and a solution. I’d love it if I got them all tomorrow, but I know now that it’s a process and answers (and solutions) will take time. And, yes, I’m frustrated that the healing has taken so long. I’m frustrated that my life now revolves around how my back “feels”.
But, throughout this rough patch, I’ve learned a lot of great things, too.
I’ve learned about what true love was and what it looked like. Bear and I certainly loved each other before all this, (after all, we were engaged!) but nowhere near as much as now. The movies and television would have you think that true love is wine and roses, but, for me, true love is the feel of his hand that supports my back when I have trouble getting out of my chair or up an incline, the sound of him cooking me broccoli for dinner even though it’s making him gag, the sight of the remote lying next to my chair because he knows when I get home I collapse. He’s been my rock, my cheerleader, my confidant, and, the man I always hoped for, but never thought existed. This could have broken us apart, but instead, it drew us so much closer together.
I’ve learned even more about the power of prayer. Throughout this experience, I’ve been covered in prayer. Acquaintances from high school, childhood friends, friends of friends, Sunday school classes, and a ton of other people have covered me in prayer this year. I even have a prayer blanket that has knots symbolizing different church members prayers over me. It’s one of my prized possessions now.
I’ve been blessed by the company of a lot of great people and learned that some people care a lot more than i thought. I needed a lot of help on bed rest, so lots of people came to visit me and help out. I can’t even describe how grateful I am for them. Others came over and just sat with me and talked. They helped with my sanity. People still drive out of their way to pick me up or drop me off when I’m not up to driving. I’m so blessed by the people in my life. They’ve all gone above and beyond this past year.
I’ve learned not to DO so much. I can’t do it all, and I’ve FINALLY become okay with that. (Well, maybe not every day, but most days I’m okay with it.) I do the best I can with what I can for as long as I can.
And, lastly, I have learned about the day to day living of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18,
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Have I lived it out perfectly? Absolutely not. I’ve had my pity parties, shed my tears, etc. But, at the beginning of all this, I read that depression and back pain go hand in hand. I knew I couldn’t necessarily prevent depression, but I could fight it the best I could. I could actively find the good in each situation I found myself in. I could focus on the positive, no matter how small. And, so I did my best. I’d like to think I’ve fought it pretty well, all things considering. These past few months, I struggled more and I found myself sinking again. A wise friend suggested I start a gratitude journal, and that has also helped a lot. It’s helped me remember that there is always, always, ALWAYS something to be thankful for. And, I’m thankful for the process, because it’s reminded me of just how great life can be- even when you’re injured.