Author’s Note: This was a post in my backlog of drafts written 1.5 years after my back injury. I don’t know why I didn’t post it, except maybe that I felt it was self-centered? But? It’s my blog? Anyway, I am now 3 years post-injury and going through my 103 unpublished drafts. ❤
I was looking back on old photos from the past two years. Just, you know, because I’m nocturnal now. My husband is so cute. There were so many family celebrations! Smiles and laughs and hugs. My parents got a new pupper! My nephew got so big! However, I couldn’t help but notice that in every picture I’m in from late 2018 to mid 2019, I myself look…exhausted? The context doesn’t matter.
I have in the past looked back at my kiddos’ class photo from just before I left work with my injury (because my babies are adorable, and I miss them). I noticed how…ragged?…I looked even then. But I didn’t know that the entire first year post-injury, you’d be able to read the pain in my eyes. It felt like it should be a line from fanfiction, but there is was. The pain was so clear in my eyes, and it didn’t matter what the rest of my face was doing. I was worn down by pain. It was so obvious.
How often do we look back on pictures over such a span? The truth is, without a before and after and in-between photo period, I would not have seen it on myself. I would not have noticed. And that’s probably why I haven’t seen it on someone else–because I wasn’t looking to compare their then to their now.
I bring up this somewhat self-centered and honestly depressing topic because it puts things in perspective for me, and I’d like to share those things. The first year post injury was the hardest of my life, but with lots of love and support and crying and bed rest and GOD, I got through it. I went from not being able to sit up in bed on my own or sit on a toilet or walk across a room to riding a few hours by car for a short vacation in less than a year. Did that trip hurt? Yes, as my eyes in our photos would indicate clearly even if I didn’t remember it so vividly. But no matter how hard it was, I was there, and Husband was there holding my hand, and if we had to rest in our hotel bed more than was ideal or take frequent breaks when walking or standing, he wasn’t one to complain. I had the pain medication, he had the patience, and we had a great time on our 5-year-anniversary, marriage stronger than ever. (If I ever needed proof how loved I was by my reserved husband, taking care of my every need for weeks on end with love and diligence would do it. Also, embarrassment kinda goes out the window…)
And now? At not 1.5 years out, I can dance. You know, if I’m careful.
I can ride in the car without bringing my back brace along.
I can walk through multiple stores when shopping with my mom.
I can stand on my tiptoes to reach a top shelf in our pantry.
I can put on my own socks, pull up my own pants, take care of my own needs.
I can sit through a movie at the theatre.
I can function normally in most everyday situations.
And I am so incredibly thankful.
It’s always going to hurt; I’m going to live with some pain and discomfort, and that’s the end of it. There will always be limitations on what I can and cannot do because of my injury and the underlying condition that caused it (yay, genetics). It might get better and worse over the years. But I was so scared for so long about where I’d eventually level out, and at least if it’s here, I can do what I need to do and live my life the way I want if I’m intentional and considerate.
Another Author’s Note: A person should stop to reflect, I think, on how far they’ve come from time to time, and take the opportunity to be grateful. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking back at your progress personally, professionally, physically, or emotionally. At 3 years post-injury, I’m still doing okay! I maxed out my recovery at about 2 years, it seems, and this is probably as good as it’s going to get unless something major changes. No longer working as a PreK teacher and no longer constantly bending down has been hugely helpful, and I’m honestly so thankful to have come this far. I have mostly good days! More painful days range through varying degrees of ouch from bothersome/annoying to “Oh, wow, I thought we were past this.” Some days, I don’t even have pain so much as discomfort, and two years ago, that felt impossible. ❤ I miss not dealing with pain/discomfort on the regular, but I’m so lucky, so blessed, to have recovered as much as I have. As I said before, there will always be things I cannot do, and I’m worried about how my back will hold up if we have a kid or something, but I’m just going to continue giving it to the Lord and taking each day as it comes. ❤ Thanks for sticking with me, dear readers.