I’ve been in a Four-Alarm Funk since this happened. Agony does not bring out the best in me. I am lucky my family hasn’t put me by the side of the road with a “Free To ANY Home” sign stuck to me. I’ve been miserable all day, every day – for four months. No relief. I can’t even get relief from drugs. Anything more badass than Advil not only makes me projectile puke but also causes me to forget where I live, wear my clothes inside out and demand to be called “Fifi.”
The mind/body connection being what it is, my mind broke along with my back. The one thing that connects me to anything that could even tentatively be called “sanity” is working out, and that has not been an option or even possible. Pain plus insanity equals meltdowns of truly epic proportions. I have been sent to eight medical professionals, each with a different opinion of this injury. I have ugly-cried to every single one of them. I have begged for my leg to be amputated. I have panicked. I have shrieked like a howler monkey. One physical therapist with a kind heart and soft voice put me in a dark room to rest mid-nervous breakdown and encouraged me to find a mental health counselor because “an injury like this can cause people to drink too much, do drugs and overeat.” I was like HA! That’s SO two weeks ago.
To get to the bottom of the mystery, I was sent for an MRI. No one mentioned that meant having my entire body shoved into a tube and being forbidden to move for a half an hour. “Go to your happy place and keep your eyes closed,” the nurse instructed. Lucky for me, there’s a lot of making out and chocolate consumption in myHappy Place. I *really* wanted to get the information, so I reluctantly got in the tube. For about a second and a half. I’m not a small person. I’m sure from the control room me being slowly loaded into that tube looked like sausage being stuffed into a casing. I tried to take a breath, croaked “ABORT MISSION!!” and got the hell out of there like my pants were on fire.
I debriefed with my sister.
Me: “I couldn’t do it. I freaked out.”
Me: “I’m allergic to suffocation.”
Molly: “Oh my God Kate. You have to do it.”
Me: “No. I don’t like dying.”
From somewhere, my boyfriend’s voice rang out with his simple contribution: “Train wreck.”
Eventually I did get the MRI and the answers I needed. The next doctor I met with was a surgeon. After speaking with him for a half an hour I decided I wouldn’t let him pick my nose, let alone touch my spine. Among other things, this conversation:
Dr.: “When did you feel this coming on?”
Me: “I didn’t feel it coming on, it was an injury. A specific moment in time.”
Dr.: “What were you doing?”
Dr.: “As in…..putting things in boxes? You were hurt this badly putting things in boxes?”
Me: “No…as in…boxing……..”
A couple of days after that meeting, I received a letter from him in the mail which was also sent to the doctor who made the referral. The first line of the letter said “Thank you for referring this pleasant woman with an interesting problem.” I read the letter in my office and yelled to anyone within earshot, “STOP THE PRESSES!!! My epitaph has been written. This says it ALL!!”
The next doctor I went to looked at the information from the other seven doctors and said “This is all poppycock.” It was so absurd that in some weird existential way, I was snapped out of it. At that moment a sense of peace and clarity came over me. As he rattled on about injections and surgery and options I just blanked out. I suddenly realized that in my quest for answers and for someone to give me a quick fix to suddenly heal me, I hadn’t focused on healing myself. In that moment I accepted that it would take time and patience and love for myself to get me unstuck. I said to him “You know what? I don’t want any of that. I’m all set. I’ll be okay.” And I got up and left.
I’ll never know if it was just the timing or the fact that I took my healing into my own hands that made the difference, but about a week after that, I began to feel better. I came into physical therapy and was able to laugh and not cry. Well, except when I was able to do a very simple exercise that I hadn’t been able to do previously. I cried then. Because it was so good. SO. GOOD. Last weekend I took my daughter to the park fly her kite. It was the first unsupervised physical activity I had been able to do since January 6, 2012. We both cried and laughed with joy. Her kite is a big, colorful butterfly. As I watched her smile and the kite dance against the gorgeous blue sky, I felt my heart fill with hope. Healing the body is hard. NOT healing the soul is harder.