When I started this blog exactly nine months ago, I intended to show the different realities of dealing with and recovering from a serious physical injury. Be it sad and disappointing, or encouraging and inspiring, I have tried to be as honest as I could be about my experiences. And it’s no different this time: I need to rant about how sick and tired I am of being in pain.
It’s been six months since I got my neck brace off and I still deal with slight to moderate pain on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis. In the last year and two months since I broke my neck, I’ve always been in some degree of pain. It sucks to say those words and live with that truth.
When you’re recovering from an injury (or maybe anything, really?), it doesn’t matter whether everything else is awesome 95% of the time. It’s that remaining 5% in pain and despair that can turn everything around.
It doesn’t matter that I’ve gotten pretty good at swimming now (I’ve been practicing/training 3x/week for the last two months, up from 2x/week since February, and I’m joining a Masters Swimming Club this summer).
It doesn’t matter that I’ve gotten so much stronger over these last six months. Modesty aside, my husband says I’m currently the strongest and leanest I’ve ever been. I’m still progressing with my weight training program and doing more Vinyasa Yoga. I even do at least ten full push-ups in a row now, when I could barely complete a modified one on my knees just a few months ago.
It doesn’t matter that I’ve wisely used my time off work to learn French to the point that I’m completely independent and functional in Québec society.
It also doesn’t matter that my return to work is scheduled on June 28th and that I actually feel good about it. My physical therapist and occupational therapist think that my return to work will go well given my progress and functional abilities.
When my neck or upper trapezius or head or base of my skull hurts, it doesn’t feel like I’ve come a long way from where I used to be. Sometimes I wish that I asked for prescription pain medicine or that I didn’t stop taking my anti-depressants.
My daily struggle with pain begins right when I wake up: I move my neck, and there’s bound to be an area where it will hurt. I do my physio exercises to stretch and strengthen my neck – admittedly, not religiously or consistently, but I do them. I feel the tightness in my neck muscles as I stretch them. I ease through the eerie discomfort as I hear the little cracking sounds down my spine. Recently, I’ve had to endure some muscle spasms that come and go as they please, crying because the pain had been worse than usual.
It’s been six months and I’m STILL in pain?!? I’ve really had enough of this crap.
Despite all of my complaining, I know that my current level of pain doesn’t compare to that of some broken neck survivors. I know that I’m one of the lucky ones when I read about other people’s experiences of daily pain and discomfort. I don’t have any nerve damage and my limbs are fully functional. My neck’s current range of motion is really good, given that three out of my seven vertebrae are fused solid and can’t even move at all! I can truly enjoy my life and not sit at home and wallow in self-pity (okay, except right now).
Even though I’m not in that much pain (relatively speaking), I have a right to be mad about it. I still have to sit here and deal with it, don’t I?
I don’t know when and if I’ll ever be 100% pain-free. I’m 27 years old, and there’s a chance that I could live with pain all my life from this injury. Wouldn’t that make you just lose it? I know I kind of did. Imagine my physiotherapist telling me that today straight up and me tearing up… as he was massaging my neck.
Chronic pain is sadly a reality for many people – accident or no accident, young or old. I know I’ll go back to working at the mine with some neck pain. As long as I can complete my job tasks safely and productively, I guess I can be happy with that. As for living life in general, we’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, I’ll continue doing my neck exercises, going to physio, and making the most of my life without a neck brace. Because really, that’s all I can do, right?