The Surgery

This is What My Back Looks Like Inside

It has been a bit since my last post. I have had a rough couple of days and I am trying not to write this from  a place filled with overwhelming pain. I am trying to stay positive in this space while still addressing the negative aspects of my experience. However, when I feel worse than normal I tend to see the world through grey-coloured glasses. That is, I find it extremely difficult to be positive, or even neutral, when I am in such a dark place both physically from the pain, and psychologically from lack of sleep. These are the days when I swear there is no end in sight, when I am afraid that this will be my life. However, it always seems to pass. I can only feel that sorry for myself for a short period. Mind you, however short the stints, they are becoming more frequent as my recovery remains stagnant. Anyways, I promise that very soon we will arrive at the point in the story where I am now and you will get to hear all about my fluctuating recovery and emotional turmoil. . . Hopefully leading me to one day conclude this story with me as a whole and passionate person, instead of the shell filled with pain that I feel I am now.

On to this post. . .

This post will bring me up to actually getting my spine fused, exactly one year and one week from my injury. . .

After making the decision to go for surgery, I stopped pushing in physio as it was obvious that I was not getting better with increased core strength, and instead I participated in a pre-hab program. Essentially I did the same exercises as before, but I didn’t push my work outs if it any of the movements hurt. I was back at work for one four-hour shift a week, and it was incredibly hard to go in and focus on managing a pharmacy with pain killers in my system and months of sleeping irregularly. But I did it because it helped to have some regularly scheduled obligation. I didn’t feel as useless as I did when I sat at home all day, most days. (Although being at work on meds presents its own set of challenges. . .) It helped to do anything, to do something. At this point I was feeling sorry for myself in that I felt useless and more like a burden than a pleasure to those I loved and wanted to be around.

Because I was always in pain I had isolated myself to avoid talking about how I felt, because I only ever felt bad, and how much everyone else was accomplishing, because I wasn’t accomplishing anything. It was a combination of the two that made me feel like I didn’t add anything to the lives around me and I felt pretty bad about myself, so eventually I was always avoiding contact.

My best friend gave birth in the middle of my injury and I was and am still so happy for her, I love her to pieces and I in love her little one just as much; I love hearing about little A’s accomplishments and E’s fascination with her growing process. However, as much as I tried to bury it, (I knew it was coming  from that dark place inside, not me) there was also this part of me screaming ‘when can I start dreaming and planning!’ and ‘why me?’ (As I said, this is the time I felt the most sorry for myself. I had already been trying to recover from this injury for almost a year with very little progress and I now was faced with another year at least, and up to two or three years for a full recovery. It was scary and infuriating. I had fought so hard and gotten nowhere.) I feel like the worst friend in the world now, but I distanced myself from her just a bit. I hated that all I had was negative things to share, and all she had were glowing positive things. I was really happy for her, it was just hard to watch her be so happy and. . . sure of her future and place in life. I really didn’t realize what I had done until just this week when she called me for the first time since moving hours away at the beginning of April. I realized how much I missed her and how much I had been missing her for the last few months when she was here. I guess I didn’t make as much of an effort to see her as I could have, even with my pain before, maybe I should have went over more. Now I miss her horribly and would do just about anything to see her, but it is impossible. It will be impossible until I can at least ride in a car  for prolonged periods. Anyways, Darling if you are reading this, I am sorry if you have missed me as much as I missed you. Tuesday at seven? You know who you are!

Okay, enough of that. I guess I just wanted to show just how much I had isolated myself. And perhaps I also wanted to offer an explanation to all the people I have not been as attentive to as I should have. Back to the three weeks between getting my date for surgery and actually going in for the procedure. . .

I went through every strong emotion I can name in the weeks after getting my  surgery date. Part of me hoped I would wake up better someday, even though I knew it was impossible. Another part of me was looking forward to a solution, and yet another was as scared as I have ever been.

I was so nervous I actually had a couple of anxiety attacks, so I tried to keep myself busy. I still went to physio twice a week and for a massage once a week, I managed to clean the apartment with the help of my cousin (thank you!) and I also found and online forum that was extremely supportive and really helped me more than I can describe. (If you want some info or support for back injuries and problems I found this to be one of the best boards out there. Click here: Also if you want a community of support for pretty much any condition you can think of is a great site.) But the dark hours of the night are long ones, and I hadn’t slept the through the whole night in almost a year. I tortured myself with all the what-if’s I could think of, sometimes crying myself into a restless and exhausted sleep. But at some point I relized I was living something of a waking nightmare. . . Being awake and in pain was worse than anything I could experience in my dreams. Eventually I started to think that the what-if’s and consequences might be worth the chance to be pain-free.

Not that I accepted it calmly. . . Quite the opposite in fact. While I tried to keep it together on the outside, inside I was wailing. I was so scared, anxious and a thousand other panicky emotions I can’t describe. Suffice to say, there were a lot of tears and blank stares on my part. I learned everything I could about my operation and recovery  but no matter what I did, I wasn’t comfortable with the fact that I would wake up with metal in my back and only a forty percent chance of feeling the same or worse than before the surgery. I didn’t know how to feel or what to think, so for the most part I tried to bury it. When you do that though, your emotions tend to surface at inopportune times.

I remember being brought into the surgical suite and my eyes were streaming with tears, I was begging them to let me off the table, I tried to convince them it was all a huge mistake and I could handle the pain. . . I was freaking out and having a mild panic attack. When they went to lower the anesthesia mask I cried harder and a nurse took my hand. (I have no idea who she was or what she looked like because she already had her mask and scrubs on, but I would like to say thank you!) She squeezed it looking right at me and said, ‘it will be okay, we’ ll take care of you’. . . I believed her and that is really the last thing I remember.  I was under for the scariest operation of my life.

In my next blog I will focus on waking up and the worst five days ever… My nightmares in the hospital.

As a side-note, I would like to give a shout out to Eve, Sarah, Emma, Amanda, Denine, Christine, and Aline. You know who you are, thanks for reading, friendship and being yourselves.

As always, thanks for reading!                                                   -S.

Click Here for an Interlude on How I Was Two Months Post-Op


8 Comments to “The Surgery”

  1. Wow, you are so brave…You’re so young and have been through so much already. It is a complete cliche, and definitely not a consolation, but perhaps your dreadful experience has made you a “better” person, more compassionate, more able to understand pain than most people your age…
    Anyway, well done for your writing, which is compulsive to read.

  2. Credit you – this is sheerest constructive !

  3. I read your blog, and didn’t realize until I finished reading it that I was actually crying. You are so brave! Thank you for sharing with us.

    Thinking of you,


    • Thanks, Aline! (and sorry if this is… depressing? Sorry for making you cry. 😦 )
      It means a lot that you are reading. I gotta say though, I don’t know if it has been so much bravery as pure desperation. While this has been one of the hardest things of my life, my struggle is nothing compared to what some people face everyday. I have problems keeping perspective sometimes, like I have a potential soloution right now with my pain, but there are so many others who don’t have the option or means to alleviate their own. That being said, my struggle has been the most draining and worst thing I have ever had to deal with. I have lost myself over the last year… Most of my good humour and will has been eaten by the pain, and that is where the name of this blog comes from… Hopefully at some point I will re-awaken my passion for life. I just want to enjoy things again, and I don’t want to be bitter and self-pitying at the end. I really hope this experience can make me stronger and maybe at the end I can agree with you in your belief of my bravery.

      Thanks again,
      xo -S.

  4. Hey S.

    Just wanted to let you know I am… well, I can’t say ‘enjoying’ your blog because of all the pain, but it’s kind of like a soap opera and it’s really enlightening to hear all that you’ve gone through.

    I hope the worst is over for you and I think that with all you’ve been through I am quite confident that it is.

    Much love,
    Amanda xx

    • Hey,
      Thanks, darlin’! I often feel that I have spent the last year languishing and wasting time, but through writing this I have come to realize I have in fact been fighting the entire time. The story’s not over yet!
      Thanks again!
      xo -S.

Do you want to give me some encouragement, criticism or comments? Please do!! What did you think of this post?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: