Concentrating on what I can do now…

southern india
Smiling through the pain in India

Nine months on from excruciating back pain, life has much improved. I can run for 40 minutes – 40 minutes. I live day to day with only a mild discomfort or misstep reminding me that I still have an issue. I underwent no surgery. I am one of the lucky ones.

But when the pain bites it’s not always easy to remember the positives. Sometimes it comes crashing down again: the frustration of having to wait for my husband to retrieve something from a high shelf, standing around while others carry heavy items, annoyance that I can’t sleep on my stomach.

A few weeks ago, when I was suffering through some nasty bladder pain (just another one of my happy afflictions), crying tears through painkillers and making life hell for my hubby, he said something that really resonated: Don’t think about how bad it is right now, focus on how much better it has been since we started working on solutions.

And it took me back to something my physio had said to me when I was still in regular therapy. At the time, even though I was improving, I was feeling down and had a bit of a whinge. He simply asked me… Can you run? Can you drive? Can you work without taking breaks? And I answered: yes… yes… yes. And he replied – so now you see how much better it is.

And he’s absolutely right. Because my back does continue to improve, almost without me noticing. It’s so important to focus on the positives, instead of dwelling on what might have been. So I started thinking about the little things, the everyday things, the things I can now do pain-free. Here’s some of them.

  • Putting on stockings without a helper
  • Tying up my shoelaces without being on the floor
  • Sleeping on my right side
  • Being able to overtake old ladies walking down the street
  • Bending over in a completely normal way to pick up something small
  • Carrying more than one carton of milk at a time
  • Sitting down for extended periods
  • Going to the toilet without feeling like an old lady
  • Bending my body down to eat – you try eating without moving your upper body at all!
  • Taking stairs two at a time
  • Not always sitting straight like a soldier – it feels soooo awkward
Bungy jumping excited
Post-bungy – probably the most excited I’ve ever been

Ok, so I’m not going to go bungy jumping or white water rafting anytime soon, if ever. Luckily I’ve gotten to an age where I’ve already done a lot of those things, and they don’t appeal so much anymore.

I’d like to be able to pick up my niece when I see her at Christmas. I’d like to be able to go for a long hike without worrying about being in pain the following day. I’d like to not feel afraid. But those things will come, and hopefully, almost without me noticing!

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