3 Years Later.

I don’t know why every year I’m surprised at how long it has been since my accident. That day changed my life completely and I didn’t even know it at the time. Long story short for those of you who are new here, when I was at uni I had a horse riding accident. It was what seemed like a simple fall which lead to me think I was fine, despite an ambulance trip. After 2 weeks,  a doctors visit, another visit and then an emergency hospital visit I was told I had damaged four vertebrae in my spine. And, so it began.

I’m not going to write a whole post on the past 3 years and everything that happened since, instead, I want to focus on now. As I write this I’m in a job I’ve been wanting to be in since I was at university, I have a flat, friends and a wonderful partner. That’s all well and good but it is still a struggle. I have been in pain since the accident and I will continue to be in some form for the rest of my life because of the damage that was done.

There are days when I’m depressed, where I think why did his happen to me? When I want to pack everything in and lay in bed. I don’t I carry on, I lean on the wonderful people around me when I need to. I take pride in my job, my blog and the things I have and continue to achieve. Of course, I do get upset that I can’t easily go and do things that others my age can. Going out and being on my feet all night? Nope, not happening. Taking part in a sport or intense exercise? Not a pretty ending. I miss riding, I miss standing at the front of gigs but I try not to focus too much.

Mostly, I’m using what happened as something to remind me how far I’ve come and how much more I can, and will do. I’m working on a new idea, which relates to what happened (and that’s all I’m saying for now). I’m trying to forgive myself when I do struggle and need to ask for help. I’m getting through, each day as it comes, I’m accepting the fact that I have to do things a little differently.

I’m fully aware that this post is probably a brain dump, it’s also not my most eloquent post but that’s what it’s like. I don’t want sympathy, it is what it is and I’m here, I can still walk and I’m still going. That’s all that matters.

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5 Things You Should Know About Living With Chronic Pain

Recently I asked on Twitter if people would be interested in some posts about living with pain. I get asked all the time how it feels, what I do, how I still do so much so here are a few posts about it starting with things you should know.

Chronic pain (although apparently it’s now being relabeled as persistent pain) is classed as being in pain for more than 3 months. It can happen for a variety of reasons and impacts everyone differently. For me, mine was triggered by a horse riding accident when I was 20, in which, I broke part of my spine and damaged the surrounding area. I’ve been living and dealing with this for three years and there are some things I’d love people to know.

We can still do a lot, so ask us! 

Things change and it’s hard to know how what and how your friend or family member can do but you should still ask! Even if we can’t go, being asked is still important. There might even be a way around it!

It’s a case of good and day days 

As with most things, there are good pain days and bad pain days. It’s all about taking it one day at a time and seeing how things pan out. Sometimes we might be a bit quieter or sharper, it might not happen very often but it’s worthwhile keeping this in mind.

We’re still the people we were! 

Chronic pain might change a few things but not the person themselves. They’re still the person you know and love. Their humour wasn’t taken away, nor was their personality! No one wants to be treated differently for something they can’t control.

Being in pain is exhausting so don’t feel like your friends don’t want to see you. 

Honestly, on a bad pain day, it can completely wear you out. I work full time so if I am aching the last thing I want to do is have to go out after work. All I really need is a bath, some comfy PJs and an early night, it’s nothing personal!

There’s a lot of guilt and loss 

For some chronic pain is permanent there can be feelings of loss, for the things you may have had to give up (for me it was riding) and guilt for the things you might not be able to do or things you might not be able to go to! I can’t go out dancing all night like I used to, for example, not a life or death situation but it sucks all the same.

 

Is there anything you wish people knew about chronic pain or do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments below!

Pre Hospital Nerves

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Tomorrow I’m going to be going to the local hospital to be put under and have spinal injections. No biggie right? Wrong. To say that I’m nervous would be an understatement, I’m pretty damn terrified. I’ve never been put under, never had any kind of procedure like this. In almost 2 years since breaking part of my spine, I’ve been awake and often without pain medication for everything. This could work, be great and be the thing that I need to stop the pain I live with every day and allow me to be able to get on and do more. While I’m excited at the prospect I’m also incredibly nervous and feel on the verge of a panic attack whenever I think too much about it. So while the blog and my Twitter presence might be quiet over the next few days I’m really, really hoping I can have som positive news in a few weeks when it’s had time to work. Fingers crossed.

Spine Update! November 2016

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Depending on how long you’ve been reading my blog/following me on Twitter you may or may not know that back in 2015 I fell off a horse and broke part of my spine (vertebrae T12 to be exact) and damaged other parts of it. It’s been a long 18 months with a lot of pain, scans, x-rays, physiotherapy, wheelchairs, crutches and walking very, very slowly. There wasn’t any part of my life that wasn’t impacted by the accident, I spent a lot of time (longer than I should have been) on maximum strength painkillers and spent almost 2 months in this wonderful contraption…

 

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I documented on here and on Twitter whenever I could what it was like living with my spinal injury. I learnt a lot from it and it gave me a bigger appreciation for not only being able to walk but life in general. That said, it is frustrating and the pain was indescribable and is still a huge part of my life today. BUT! I finally have some good news to share.

Last week I attended a clinic called Hampshire Backs to see a back specialist. I’d waited since September for this appointment and had an MRI (I was stuck in the machine for an hour!) determined that something would happen this time after seeing endless doctors, consultants and surgeons only for them to shrug their shoulders. My new consultant is brilliant, I’ve seen the scans and my break is fully healed, as is the damage to other parts of my spine, my nerves are clear of disruption and my spinal chord is good. All the majors were ok! We then went to on a physical examination, one that’s almost routine to me now, it took him a small amount of time to work out what was going on.

Due to the fact I’ve tried almost all the options that I have been able to at this point, including a year of physiotherapy, we were going to the next step. At some point next year I’m going into hospital to have a procedure, during which I’ll be asleep while a mix of steroids and anaesthetic will be placed in to the joints in the base of my spine. The hope is that this will give me relief, meaning I can build up muscle before it wears off and hopefully that will help the pain. IF this works then there will be talk of further procedures, if not…well we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

I won’t lie to you, I’m terrified of going to sleep and having people stick things into my spine but I also have a new found hope. This could be the start of me not living in constant pain and worry. I’m going forward and trying to be positive about this.

Spine Update

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted an update on my spine. For some of my most recent followers (there are now 400 of you who receive emails from me!!), you may not know what I’m talking about or why my spine is so important. Back in April 2015 I took a tumble off of a friends horse and long story short I ended up a compression fracture (think a crumble) of one of vertebrae and possible damage to three others. The treatment I received wasn’t great, particularly from the emergency team when I was bought in in the ambulance, who also didn’t find the fracture for 2 weeks, meaning in that time I could hve easily done more damage and been paralysed. Fun. So I’ve been in spine recovery since then and had multiple appointments, doctors and 5 different hospitals in London, it’s all gotten pretty normal to me.

Tonight, however, I got to meet my first GP for the first time. The pain in my spine has been particularly unbearable in the past few months because I’m now working full time and commuting, meaning I can’t take super strong medication. I knew something wasn’t right so off to the doctor I went. I’m used to it being passed off, ignored or being given ANOTHER stack of medication to try, although I was pleasantly surprised.  She was brilliant and took it incredibly seriously listening to my concerns and what I would like done. I’m now on medication that is better for me in the long run, am booked into an x-ray tomorrow and will be sent to a specialist back clinic to see where to go from there. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so optimistic about my back.

As always I’ll keep you all updated about anything that’s going to be done/is discovered. For everyone that has sent me messages or commented thank you so much, those messages keep me going on bad pain days!

Fighting Fit: When Your Body Won’t Cooperate

Fighting Fit- When your body doesn't cooperate

It might have been well over a year since I broke my spine but sometimes it throws a bit of a fit. I’ve been really busy for the past few weeks and travelling to things, boxing up the flat and all that jazz, meaning that I’ve put quite a bit of strain on my back. This evening I’m sat with a big fluffy pillow resting, writing, reading and just feeling a bit frustrated. I’ve come a really long way in the past year but sometimes I try and do too much and pay for it later. I don’t think there’s anything more frustrating than when your own body lets you down.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the accident and my injury lately, more than I normally would. With the warm weather coming and my friends heading to fun days out, theme parks and long walks I can’t help but feel a little jealous. It does still get to me but more than anything I get really self concious about it in public. There are still times when I get a limp on my left side because after doing too much I’m in a lot of pain or my leg will start to go numb. When I go to Comic Con or any big event like that, I sometimes need my crutch just to relieve some of the pain. As someone who wants to be seen as strong, who is used to getting up and getting on (just like getting up straight after I fell) it’s hard to let people see me on the days when I am a little more vulnerable. This is particularly the case when I’m getting to know new people, such as at my new job.

That said, I know that these frustrations are just a part of recovery and of having to take things one step at a time. I found a lot of comfort in a TED Talk I watched yesterday (click here for 7 TED talks you need to watch!), it reminded me that while my body is still working hard and healing, it’s not the only thing I have going for me. My body being in pain and breaking took things from me, but it gave me opportunities too. It taught me a lot about myself and what I want, it taught me to appreciate every step I take because I could so easily have lost the ability to walk.

In all of this, the good days, the bad nights, the medication changes, the occasional limping and the jokes that I make to make others more comfortable I realised that I need to keep my mind fighting. I can’t let myself go into a place of wallow and self pity. I can’t let myself give in when I’m sick of physiotherapy or don’t feel like going to the gym or when the doctors try and palm me off with silly answers. Keeping my mind strong is what will, in the end, keep my body fighting, even on the worst days.

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.