There’s been some dark days over the last few months. There’s been a few more tears than usual, a few more outbursts of Life’s not fair and why me? And I know that there are many people out there worse off than me, as I bask in the privileged position of having a steady job, living in my own house and enjoying Friday night date nights.
But it’s like two years of Covid just came and bit me in the ass. I recently gave some very serious thought to trying to make it back to Oz. Why not skip over there, I thought, despite everything going on, because it is possible. Of course, for it really to be possible, a lot of aspects of my life had to line up perfectly. And when they didn’t, my world kind of crashed down.
When you’re young you often hear the same kind of advice: ‘these are the best years of your life’, and ‘enjoy it while you still can’, and ‘all this stuff will be trivial when you have to grow up and adult’. I think I had a pretty astute inkling that life was damn good when I was younger. Sure, there were the usual trials and tribulations, and while in the moment they can feel intense and devastating, usually I look back years later and have a good laugh at myself. But overall life has been pretty good. And I did my best to absorb it and live in the moment and count myself lucky. Or maybe I enjoyed myself too much. Because somewhere along the way it seems I didn’t pay attention to the other thing that people always tell you when you’re young: look after your back.
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.
I have always been told I look young. Ok, it wasn’t so fun getting my ID checked at age 23 but still, I thought to myself, at some point this has to blow the other way. At some point, I’ll be happy that people think I’m younger than I look. And surely, I surmised, the inside matches the out – I eat (relatively) healthy, keep fit and am mentally just your average kind of person – everyone’s got issues, right? So I figured that even though I was heading for my mid-late 30s, everything was going to hold up at least for another little while.
In early March, I was happily touring around southern India with my hubby when I noticed my lower back was sore. Nothing out of the ordinary, I thought – the bumpy roads, the beds – it makes sense. That evening I headed for a massage, hoping to find relief. But when I, grimacing, crawled onto the massage bed, my masseur promptly advised me to see a doctor.