My series of goddess photographs was almost entirely derailed by the pandemic, but even ones I was largely prepared for didn’t quite make it to the deadline somehow. I photographed Gaia last summer in anticipation of posting it on the summer solstice this year, but I didn’t quite make it. I saw it in my calendar last week and tried to budget enough time to get the image ready, but it didn’t work out. And that’s okay. I’m still really excited to share it with ya’ll. There are only so many spoons to be had.
Surgery was rough. There is no version of needing surgery on your spine where you really feel good about it going in. Or at least none that spring to mind. But there’s something utterly surreal about walking alone into surgery. It feels like walking to a sacrifice. Your own sacrifice.
And it’s really hard to be okay with that.
When I woke up from surgery, a lot of things were wrong. My pain was completely out of control, my bad leg was worse, too much time had passed, and they didn’t want me to go home. Nothing was going how I expected.
I believe in science, in logic. I actually feel better when thinking about all the skilled, professional people who are working to help me. But there’s a special kind of fear when those we put our faith in, falter.
I’m not okay.
My body isn’t working right. From the looks of it, my body will never work as it should ever again. I like to think I can adjust to that. What’s bothering me now, is the dogged inkling that even if I were to lose my leg, the excruciating nerve pain boiling through it would remain.
I made some rather bold plans for this year. While it’s barely two months in to the year, I already feel like I’ve fallen woefully far behind.
I was medically cleared after my surgery in January. I was excited to start walking more and regaining my strength. I had things I wanted to try, things I was going to work on to try to earn money.
And then, after only a few days of trying to get back to my life… It all came back. The pain was unbearable. My leg barely worked.
Several phone calls, a trip to the ER, and an emergency MRI later… My disc re-herniated and I’m back to where I was 3 months ago.
I meant to write here more. I have at least a dozen blog posts written, I just never posted them. I’m not even sure why. What was I waiting for?
Like a lot of people, when I’m depressed, I tend to withdraw. And right now? I’m extremely withdrawn. I just wanted to have my life back. Not even “my” life, just “A” life would have been great.
I don’t want to be on my couch, in too much pain to do much more than nap all winter long. But that seems to be where I’m at. I know that I need to take it slow, be kind to myself, and let my body heal. I know it’s the most important thing. But having to “rest” for months on end is its own special kind of torment.
To say that 2019 was a year of change, would be a gross understatement. I do believe that change is constant and our adaptability to it is a big part of what shapes our reality. However, it’s a little extreme when your entire sense of self shifts.
I had to stop working in June because of debilitating pain in my spine, being unstable on my feet, and not being able to see clearly out of my right eye.
Now, for a normal person, any one of those things on their own would likely be enough to give them pause. For me, I had suffered with the first two for a very long time as they steadily got worse. It wasn’t until I could no longer work around the last item that I contacted the company I subcontracted from and told them I needed to stop. I told them I thought my brain tumor might be back.
The fact that I would have heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, and sobbing anxiety meltdowns every time I had to leave for a job, never seemed like a valid excuse to make a change. It wasn’t until I was also unable to see that I stopped.
As I sit here today, I am baffled as to why I STILL believe the destruction of my mental and emotional health is not a valid reason to make a change to my behavior when it comes to work. Instead, I pushed through the misery, made sure I didn’t eat, carefully scheduled out my days to the minute, and cried in the car. And I made myself do the work, even though at the end of the day, it wasn’t even a living wage. Or even minimum wage.
The progression from optometrist, to neurologist, to spine surgeon was relatively quick.
The good news is that my brain tumor seems to be stable. The bad news is that back pain I’ve had forever, the grinding in my spine, the shooting leg pain, the tremors I would have to stretch out, are because I have no discs left L2 and down. Words like “degenerative disc disease,” and “root nerve compression” started to be thrown around. I learned about EMG tests and how many of the things I’ve lived with – and mentioned to medical professionals – for years, were not normal.
I has surgery on my spine in November to try and save function in my leg. There’s nothing to be done for the rest of my spine.
I will never have improved function in my spine. Right now is as good as it gets. The only thing to be done is try to preserve what I have left. It’s scary. I think about all the hard labor I’ve done over the years while my back screamed in pain and I pushed through it because that’s what you’re supposed to do, and I shudder.
In January this year, I shoveled my driveway because no one else would do it. No matter how much I explained that I shouldn’t do it because I fall over, because I can’t grip a shovel with my broken hand, because it kills my back, because I have been expressly told on several occasions that I SHOULD NOT SHOVEL SNOW. I couldn’t get any help. And if the snow didn’t get moved, I was going to be snowed in for quite some time. So I shoveled snow. It hurt so much. By the time I had to stop, I could barely move. I spent most of the next two weeks laying down. That’s probably when I herniated the disc in my back. But that wasn’t enough to send me to a doctor.
So much of my energy has been wrapped up in my health, it feels like I haven’t been able to do much else. I’ve been working on disability paperwork, and trying to find work that my health will allow. It’s a very long process. The mental adjustment is probably harder.
I don’t want to be disabled. It feels like self-pity. I know it isn’t, but that’s the struggle between knowing things intellectually, and accepting them emotionally.
In the midst of this, a few other things happened in my life. A partner I pined for over the course of a decade, ended up being not who I thought they were. Letting go of that idea was devastating. I also lost a very close friendship. I cried over that for months. My ex-husband started legal action against me barely seven months after our divorce was finalized.
It feels selfish to complain. In the last month and a half, close friends of mine have suffered unimaginable tragedies so I shouldn’t talk, right?
But that’s not how life works. We all have our own individual struggles. We can all have horrible things happen to us, all at the same time. In the end, isn’t that what life is all about?
Year-end recaps always struck me as odd. Who can keep track of all these things? I can’t remember what I did this morning let alone what books I read in April. This year felt different because of the over arcing difficulty of my health. I don’t know what 2020 will look like. I assume I’ll spend a lot of time trying to figure out what my life is going to look like. You’re all welcome to come along for the ride.