It all started at midnight last night. P & I were watching the NFL show all about American Football, when 2 of the presenters ( Jason Bell & the very dishy Osi Umenyiora 🤗) were discussing career ending injuries which unfortunately had happened in the games this week and also to them both.
Jason described how his injury had stopped him playing for the rest of the season and how his team then went on to win the Super Bowl without him. It was a heartrending listen as he described the feelings of loss and alienation as his team celebrated their incredible achievement. It was his lifelong ambition to win the Championship and he was almost in tears as he recalled being in his hospital bed watching ‘his‘ world move on without him and knowing that his dream would never be realised.
I couldn’t breathe whilst watching it. I didn’t realise I was holding my breath until P touched my arm and said “you ok?”
I just looked at him, shrugged, smiled and said nothing.
But the truth was so different. It had been a long time since I’d acknowledged those feelings, those feelings of loss, of detachment, of sheer heartbreak.
Today is Sunday, September the 27th 2020 and 6 years ago was the weekend when I knew my life was going to change. But looking back today, I never realised quite how much.
“Those were dark days”
“Those were dark days” said Jason Bell last night when asked to describe those first days of injury. They certainly were and I understood exactly what he meant. They were days of so much pain, bewilderment and total depression as it began to dawn on me that this wasn’t ‘sciatica‘ that I was facing. I was facing a spinal fracture, constant pain and permanent nerve damage.
Would the fracture have occurred if I hadn’t lain on my back with that bloody golf ball under my bum? Was the fracture there all along? Would it have been caught earlier if I’d been more insistent on an X-ray or an MRI? What if I’d known about the osteoporosis that caused this fracture? Did the fracture cause the initial excruciating pain or did the physio treatment cause the fracture and nerve damage?
Aaaarrrggghhhhh……!! Down I spiralled, like Alice down the rabbit hole, down to the dark days and nights where I stayed for some time.
I drove myself and P mad.
“Why didn’t so & so come visit? Why didn’t so & so answer my texts? Why didn’t they text me? Didn’t anyone care that my pain was overwhelming me? Didn’t they realise that I was in desperate need of support? Couldn’t they see that my life was over? My career was gone and I didn’t know if I could go on? That living the rest of my life in this much pain was utterly terrifying?”
Those dark nights were the worst; staying on the settee alone all night, thinking I couldn’t go on, sobbing and crying my heart out until exhausted, I fell asleep. And when I woke up, not knowing if I was actually awake and everything was real or whether the floor indeed was made of spongy foam or were those pixies I swear I saw climbing up the curtains actually there? Obviously, it was the heavy duty painkillers that were causing those horrible hallucinations but sometimes I just couldn’t tell. I didn’t want to know and I didn’t care, I could see nothing ahead worth living for, selfish I know but in that tunnel of pain and darkness I couldn’t see straight and a happy ending was impossible in my mind. No one else could possibly understand as there was no one else in the same situation.
It was indeed a dark, scary time.
I’m ashamed and embarrassed to say it took me a long, long time to work through all those feelings. And obviously I’m not completely there otherwise this post wouldn’t have been written but I’m trying. I’m also ashamed that I was so wrapped up in myself, selfishly ignoring anything and everyone else and putting on the best ‘brave face‘ ever so that only P ever saw the real, falling apart me.
“But things do change…..”
I didn’t want this to be a ‘poor me‘ tale or a ‘don’t worry, there’s always a rainbow ahead‘ or a ‘but that was then and this is now, look at my happy ending‘ kinda piece as all those things are too twee to be realistic. Yes, I am so much ‘better‘ now and thanks to a wonderful therapist, I can see a future ahead of me but living with chronic pain is bloody horrible and I still hate it, 6 years later. But I can also say with confidence that I think I’m through the worst of it all. It’s still an uphill slog some days to slap that smile on but forcing yourself to do it everyday actually helped me to start believing it. And there ARE other people who feel this way, I am not alone. I have made countless ‘friends‘ online from the disabled community who just know, they have been there too.
Everyday I take a look around and say out loud what I’m thankful for. I never take the trees, the mountains, the magnificent scenery in which I live for granted. I adore my family, to whom I have become much closer since then as I have opened myself up to them in a way I never had before. (god, that sounds so woke, sorry🤦♀️)
The tough, in charge, ‘I can do anything and I can do it by myself’ Ms Adams has become the open and loving Mrs Gregory, with a debt of gratitude I can never repay to those wonderful people who did text, visit or message me, to my sisters, my children, my friends and most of all my wonderful P who has literally kept me alive with his love and devotion.
Just as Jason and the utterly gorgeous Osi ( did I mention how beautiful he is before…?) both moved on from the NFL to careers as pundits, so my life has moved on too. I’m no longer a teacher but I’m sat here today surrounded by the Mid Wales countryside watching the sheep and the wild birds and the sun is trying its hardest to keep me warm. It’s a good day today.
I’m happy today.
I’m loved today.
My life is worth living today and I am worth it. (I’m sure I’ve heard that somewhere before too 😉)
@OsiUmenyiora @JasonBell33 @markchapman #TheNFLShow