Journal log – June 26, 2016:

I’m currently sitting in a crowded food court at Toronto’s Pearson Airport eating an unexpectedly delicious Beef Pad Sew from Thai Express. I’ve been up since 6:15 a.m. for a three-flight voyage half-way across Québec and then nearly all the way across Ontario, so I can arrive in Thunder Bay tonight for another early flight tomorrow morning.

This is it – I’M GOING BACK TO WORK!

My ultimate goal over the last seven months since I started my rehabilitation has always been to return to work underground as a mine geologist. It wasn’t regaining all the range of motion in my neck. It wasn’t living pain-free. I wanted to go back to work at the mine and I was going to do it.

Breaking my neck and all the bells and whistles that came with it was a severely traumatic, life-changing experience. But I’m not letting that get in the way of me moving on and picking up a promising career I put on hold.

Sure, I had my worries. I doubted that I could actually go through with it. But I wanted to at least TRY, you know? Heck, I even once broke down in tears in a bathroom stall at a roadside McDonald’s worrying about it (and if that isn’t rock bottom, I don’t know what is).

I know it won’t be easy – but hey, nothing has been truly easy in this recovery thus far. You’d be surprised at how so many people just DON’T or don’t even try coming back to work after an injury. Excluding those who are left severely handicapped, some may be content with receiving disability payments and going along their way. I’m not. I’m young and I have dreams and ambitions far beyond being a part-time athlete and housewife

So practically everything I did while I was out of the job – doing my boring physio exercises, exercising for at least an hour every day, simulating shock and impact on my body with occupational therapy exercises so I could be accustomed to the bouncing around underground, planning days full of activities so I could get used to twelve-hour work days – was towards that one goal.

And finally, at my nine-month post-op appointment with my neurosurgeon two weeks ago, I was approved to go back to work. All the hardware was in place, my healing was complete, and I hardly had any restrictions.

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I’m extremely thankful to my supervisor as well as the disability/rehab insurance specialist, nurses, HR, and senior management at my workplace for all their understanding, patience, and support throughout my ordeal. Our plan is to gradually increase my hours underground over my first rotation of two weeks. And then see how I feel and take it from there.

You know what? I’m not so worried anymore. I’m excited to go back to work. I’m so thrilled to see all my colleagues and friends (and hear their adorable Northwestern Ontario accents). I’m happy to have others do the cooking and cleaning for me at camp, so I can concentrate on only working, eating, and sleeping.

I also can’t wait to see all those piles of rocks again!

And now two months later and I’m back to my regular duties… almost like I never left.