Sunday 7 – 7 Things I’ve Learnt Since Breaking My Spine

I’ve been feeling fairly emotional in the last few weeks about today. It’s been one year since breaking my spine and I just feel kind of weird about it. I broke down in tears after a particularly bad pain day, because I’m still in all this pain a year later. I just felt so fed up but then I had a hug with Ali and he reminded me of what I’ve been saying to myself for the past 12 months. I may be in pain but I’m still here and I’m still walking. What happened to me was bad enough but it could have been a lot worse! I’ve also really grown as a person in the past year, my opinion on life has changed and I’m truly grateful. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that I’m glad it happened, it changed a lot and I didn’t have the best year BUT I am really proud of myself, how I’ve reacted and what I’ve learnt.

You can have all the ridged plans you want, but life doesn’t work that way.

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Before the accident, I had a plan of how my life would go and it would go that way. I was like I’ll graduate then and I’ll go straight to my masters, then my Phd. I’ll have a house by this time, a dog, a child, another child, I WILL HAVE CONTROL. I learnt after the accident that life can throw ANYTHING at you, there was a point where I physically couldn’t walk. Of course, I didn’t plan that, no one plans almost losing the ability to walk. It made me realise that I can’t have this idea of infinite control, so I’ve let go a little. Things will happen as they do, I only have so much control.

Stop being so hard on yourself! 

Recovery was hard, super hard. I constantly get told by my physiotherapists, pain specialists, lecturers, family, Ali that I need to stop being so hard on myself. They’d remind me all the time this wasn’t a small break, this was a huge part of my body trying to fix itself. So what if I put on weight, if I didn’t get the top grade in my class. I realised striving to be great is good but I don’t have to be perfect all the time.

The human body is a beautiful and amazing thing.

For a long time after the accident and sometimes still now I resented my body. I hated that it had broken in such a simple fall, I hated the stretch marks that had bloomed all over my thighs, I hated the fact people commented on how much weight I’d put on and I hated that I didn’t fit into any of my clothes. I had a realisation at a point that I just thought my body has been doing so much work. It’s literally been healing the main pillar in my body that hold everything together, that’s amazing.

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When you’re sick enough, you can cope with your hatred of needles/hospitals/ claustrophobia. 

I still hate needles, I will always hate needles BUT when you’re sick enough (like when I was in the hospital earlier in the year) you get on with it. I still don’t like hospitals (who does) but now it’s just another place I have to go sometimes. I won’t lie having my MRI and CT scans were pretty nerve wracking and claustrophobic but the people running them understood that. Basically you can get through a lot more than you think you can.

The gym is better than any therapy session and any religion. 

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If you’d have asked me a year ago about loving the gym I would have laughed at you, now I’m stressed when I CAN’T go. The gym is a love and an obsession and I can’t wait to get back into routine and slowly keep building my muscles and be in so much better shape than I was a year ago.

It’s ok to have days where it all feels like too much. 

You’re only human, you need these days, it’s okay!

The people who stick around are the ones that are meant to be there. 

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My relationships changed a lot after the accident, I lost a lot of people and I gained some others. More than anything I learnt that the people that are meant to be there will be. I also learnt that some people are in your life for a certain amount of time and that’s okay too. I’m a firm believer in everything happens for a reason.

What have I done this summer?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the expectations of summer today and for the past few weeks. As we creep closer to September and the evenings start getting darker that little bit earlier summer is scampering away before our very eyes. While I was lying on the bed at my appointment yesterday, as my physio was telling me to slow down and not push the muscles too hard something in me snapped. NO! I wanted to scream in my head, No I’m done, I want a summer do over, I want to go and explore the world and write books and go all over London. Just give me a do over. But I was sat slowly trying to pull my knees towards my chest and having my reflexes checked every week to make sure that I wasn’t getting worse. I was waiting on doctors appointments and adjusting medication levels every few weeks. What the hell was I going to say once I got back to uni?

Almost on queue my anxiety  kicked in today, with a days of depressive thoughts too. What if everyone just ignored me when I couldn’t keep up or go on nights out properly? What if I just sat in the corner while everyone talked about how awesome their summer plans were and how they were glad they spent their last summer before graduating having fun and being young? All I could say was that I fractured my spine, got to go in an ambulance and slept a lot.

So I got sad, got angry, and tried to convince myself getting out of bed and getting dressed was going to be a good move. I threw on some clothes after a while and scraped back my hair, intending to take some pictures of Kingston in the sun. The short story is that it didn’t happen, the long version includes a lot of muscle spasms and swearing. So I moped even more and did housework. Now I bet you’re thinking why do I want to read her moaning about life being sucky, WAIT, this bits almost over, I promise.

I thought the words, what have I done this summer? After waves of negativity I had a lightbulb moment, I managed to get my spine to heal back together. I realised how awesome and amazing my body had been this summer. I might not have done anything that other people I know will have done like a trip to Australia or going to Reading Fest, but my body has managed to piece itself back together and escape never being able to use my legs again.

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I realised that it was pretty awesome that I’ve gone from needing help to get out of bed, to walk even the tiniest bit and helped out of the bath every time (now it’s not as often) to having the independence to go to work and my physio appointments without everyone being anxious about it. I’ve learnt to deal with doctors and have a love for nurses. I’ve learnt that I can handle levels of pain I wouldn’t imagine and that if my determination ever needed testing this would do it. I didn’t back down on going to Athens or performing at Basingstoke Live, as people keep telling me I’ve been pretty bad ass.

I still have a long way to go, more appointments, more physio and having to adjust my plans but your body healing itself is a pretty awesome thing and it even makes me forgive the stretch marks that have caused me so much upset lately. Even with all that and the chance I’ll never be able to ride again/ it will be too much of a risk, the experience has made me grow, as cheesy as it sounds. I’ve picked myself up from lows I never thought I’d have and I’ve seen the beauty in the people around me.

So that’s what I’ve done this summer, how about you?