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.

My experience of Acupuncture

As a part of my fracture recovery I semi-voluntarily get stabbed with tiny needles all over my spine and occasionally my legs. Doesn’t that sound like fun? What I thought was just something that you paid people to do if you were slightly mad, is actually funded on the NHS. Now I’ll be honest I was very sceptical about the way this works and if it works at all. I’m still trying to figure it out myself. After weeks and weeks of still not being able to move and a little persuasion I was booked in to acupuncture.

I said last week that things are only slightly improving with my spine, leading me to be willing to try anything and everything to get rid of some of this pain and get a more active lifestyle back (I was supposed to be super ripped by this point, then I decided to fall off a horse). Meeting Nicola I was nervous, more than nervous but because she is absolutely fab she managed to make me feel informed enough to give it a try. Nicola is the most amazing physio, she answers any and all of my questions, encourages me and understands when the pain is a little bit too much. I don’t think I would have let anyone else use me as a dart board three times.

A lot of people ask me things like what does it feel like? Does it hurt? Do you watch? I can answer honestly that it feels like someone is jabbing you, not in an ‘oh my god what the hell are you doing’ kind of way. Some lucky so and sos don’t feel it at all apparently, I most definitely do. For me there are certain points which are quite painful, whereas others are just a bit annoying, for example there’s one in the middle of my lower back that I’ve had every time and I can usually ignore it. Another point that I had today was on my hip which lead me to swear out loud, it didn’t feel great and the weirdest one I’ve had so far is the backs of my knees, I don’t even know how to describe that. Obviously with it being on my back I can’t watch it, nor would I want to.

If you don’t like needles, scroll past this next image…

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Sometimes it can cause pain afterwards and, you guessed it, I’m one of the lucky few who get a fair bit of pain after. I can also get sleepy too. I’ve had 3 sessions and I haven’t seen any incredible results yet unfortunately. I’m going to have a few more sessions, partly because we tried the alternative today and I nearly cried in pain as Nicola tried to relax the muscles. I can’t say that I’d recommend it to people other than to help curb a needle phobia, I’m starting to not be that bothered as long as I don’t have to see it.

I think if I wasn’t struggling so much with pain and it hadn’t been so long I would have held off. I don’t see it as anything magical or groundbreaking, that said it might be more to do with what’s wrong with me rather than the actual treatment, who knows. I’m hoping that after pain clinic and seeing the Neurosurgeon I can finally get back on track, get rid of acupuncture and get back into some fitness!

Image from paramount-physiotherapy.com