From Disaster to Dreams

I checked Facebook this morning to find the “memory” they presented me was about one of the most horrible days of my life. It was two years ago. My life has changed so dramatically since then, it’s almost too much to take in.

Two years ago, I went to my car and opened the door. I had lent the car to someone much taller than I, and they forgot to put the seat back. Being that I was still half asleep and it was still dark out, I flopped down. With no seat to catch me, I fell, hard. I slammed into the console, bruised my ribs on the gear shift, and sprained my shoulder trying to catch myself on the steering wheel.

Needless to say, I was a mess.

The pain in my back didn’t go away. It grew worse and worse. I started physical therapy and ended up having to use Siri to call someone to help me out of bed the next morning. As things progressed, I had to take a disability leave from work because I couldn’t manage sitting or standing for any length of time. I was in too much pain to focus and that was not working out for my job in a call center.

I started seeing specialists. In the course of three months, I went from a cane to a walker, and ultimately to a wheelchair. I moved in with a friend who will never be capable of asking too much of me.

He helped me change clothes, do laundry, get in and out of bed. When the medication I was on left me wetting the bed, he helped me get cleaned up and then clean my bed. He drove me to every appointment and waited with me. He spoke to doctors when my mess started causing memory lapses and advocated for me with them.

I spent more than one day in the wheelchair, staring at the walls wondering if this was my life from here on. Was I, at 44, a useless disaster?

Then there was hope. I was being admitted to the hospital and then sent to a physical rehab center to get me on my feet. The hospital stay was horrible. They ran every test known to man, even drawing spinal fluid. In the end, no one had any answers.

I was at the rehab facility one day. The therapists came in, said I didn’t need help, and started discharging me. I spoke to the doctor and a social worker. The social worker asked how I felt.

I said I didn’t know how to feel. I was given hope for recovery and it was taken away. I didn’t want to spend my life in a wheelchair, but no one wanted to help.

Next thing I knew, security was there, frisking me for weapons before dumping me at the psych ward. The doctor said I’d threatened him and also threatened to kill myself. I spent 4 hrs fearing that I was about to be locked in a psych ward.

The doctor who finally came to talk to me said that this was bullshit and sent me home.

I was alone in the house that night. All I wanted was someone to tell me it wasn’t over, and that I still mattered. I wanted a hug and a good cry.

That was the lowest point of the entire saga. I believed that my life, from then on, would be me, in a wheelchair, in pain, and too drugged to hold a conversation.

A few weeks later, I got a call that I needed to go and see another specialist. I entered the exam room and was surprised by a tiny woman with white hair. She spoke to me and my friend. Then she had me stand. She pressed on four points on my back and I almost puked. I sat and she said to me “This is classic lumbar spondylosis.” She set me up for injections and cautioned me that it may take two sets of injections, or that I may feel better briefly and have the pain return.

I returned a week later for the injections. Two days afterward, I was on my feet. Two weeks later, I was at work again. Within the month, I started classes to get a degree in project management.

What I learned, through all of that mess, was that life is a gift. Health and mobility, a clear mind, these are gifts. They can be taken away.

I was lucky. I was beyond lucky.

Today, two years later, I am one year from completing the degree I started. I’ve written and released Escaping Paradise. I’m about to release Chasing Freedom. I’m working (for the same company that stood behind me while I was so messed up). I’m living on my own again. I also haven’t had need of the shots in over a year. I will likely need treatment again in the future, but now I know what and why.

My life is better than it has ever been.

From feeling that my life was effectively over, to feeling like this. It’s a dramatic change.

Wherever you are in life, don’t give up. I know it can seem hopeless. It’s not. You just have to find the right door. Keep kicking at those doors, do not quit. You’re worth not giving up on.

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