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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Recovery: Back To The Gym

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As my regular readers know, a few weeks ago I underwent injections in my spine in the hopes of relieving some of the pain I’ve had since my initial break back in 2015. It’s been a long, and quite painful, two weeks while I waited to see if they were going to work at all. I’m not sure if they have, it’s currently too early to tell BUT I managed to do a 30-minute workout today. It definitely doesn’t sound like much, maybe it isn’t too much, but I’m not in agonising pain afterwards. It gives me hope, that even if the pain never completely goes away, it might be able to be managed. I could have cried once I’d done the 30 minutes, because I wasn’t counting down the seconds so I could stop, I was enjoying it and it means everything right now.

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.

Living with Chronic Pain

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For the past year and a half I’ve been living with moderate to severe back pain. By definition this now means that I’m living with chronic pain, there’s no break from it, no rest , it’s just a constant part of my life. Living with chronic pain is not something that anyone chooses, in my case, it was because of an injury. We’re still not sure about the damage, I’m booked in to see another specialist and have another MRI scheduled.

I’ll say it once and I’ll say it again, it’s all about good days and bad days, as many illnesses are. On a good day, I might be able to do a light workout, walk around and the pain is just background noise. On a bad day, it’s like someone is hammering on my spine, the smallest things will hurt and climbing stairs can feel like Everest and when it’s at its worst I can’t feel much in one leg. I might have to take a crutch when I go to an event. I take my medication but it doesn’t even skim the surface, to say that it’s frustrating is an understatement.

But what’s it like to live with chronic pain? Well, it’s definitely not fun, but I’m always aware that my injury could have been much worse. I’m walking, when I was incredibly close to losing that all together. So I’m always aware of that but living with chronic pain means a lot of doctors appointments, a lot of tiring discussion, repeating yourself, physio and medication change after medication change. It’s not pretty, but for a lot of us, it’s just life.

Some people might not understand why I’m broadcasting this, why I’m letting myself possibly look weak. I don’t think that’s it though. I don’t think anyone who keeps fighting is weak and that’s what people with chronic pain do. We go to work, we live our lives the best we can, we just get on with it and that’s the simple truth of living with a chronic illness. Even when the pain is the worst it can be we carry on as best we can. That is what living with chronic pains is like.

Looking back at University -I’m a Graduate!

On Thursday 21st of July my journey as a student came to an end. Yes after 3 long years I am now officially a graduate of Kingston University, Chloe Metzger BA Hons. I’m going to try and keep this blog short, because I feel like I could write a book on this chapter of my life alone. I went from a girl who was terrified of leaving home, to a young independent woman. I’ve gone through more than I thought I could enjoy and have had experiences that I never thought I would but I’m so pleased I went to university, I found out who I was.

The past 3 years have been overwhelming such amazing highs and very tough lows. I’m nothing like the girl who started, who was so anxious the thought of getting on a bus nearly sent her into a panic attack, now I’ll travel around London for work. I’ve met the Chancellor and had a good few chats with her. I started this blog, interviewed by various people, made friends, started a band, played all over London and the South East and released 4 singles. I’ve watched countless bands and artists and met some of my absolute heroes. I’ve also met authors, celebrities and inspiring people. I’ve won awards, became a society president, got firsts and two ones, become a Student Ambassador and in charge of social media. I’ve given talks on mental health and found my voice as well as a way to use my past to create a better future.

Of course there were tough times too the homesickness, the really tough times with my depression when I wouldn’t leave my flat or be around people for days on end, friendship breakdowns, breaking my spine and not getting some of the grades I wanted. Originally I didn’t post that I got a 2:1 for my degree because I wasn embarrassed. My goal from the first year was to get a first class degree and I missed it by 3.5%. I cried, a lot, I was full of self loathing, how could I not get that extra 3.5%? Then I spoke to a friend, someone who chose to love me rather than being Ali or my family who were proud whatever, who told me not many people can recover from a broken spine and be in hospital for IBS and still come out so close to a first. It made me feel a lot better. I put this pressure on myself and it’s one of my flaws. I wanted to tell you all that because university comes with the good and the bad.

My future has completely changed from that I thought it would be before I went to uni, hell it’s different from what I thought it would be a year ago, but I’m happy. I’m happier sitting writing this than I have been in months, because third year was hard. It wasn’t just the workload, but my personal life. If I’m honest I’m surprised I made it through. I don’t want to sound like I’m boasting but I want  to be truthful to let others know that even when life gets so tough that you don’t know how you’re going to keep going, you can.  I haven’t you the space to write everything I loved about studying at university, but I did. I’ve got some incredible friends and memories from my time at KU and it’s honestly one of the best decisions I ever made.

So thank’s Kingston, you were great!

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Fighting Fit: When Your Body Won’t Cooperate

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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.