My dearest and nearest might beg to differ, but by and large I try not to talk too much about the chronic back pain I have suffered from for nearly two decades now when a should-have-been fatal motorcycle accident only managed to half-way mangle me and not kill me.
At the time, my then-new-boyfriend and now-husband was given the job of calling my parents back in Canada (we were living in Taiwan) to break the news of my accident. While I am famous for my hyperbole, Don is equally famous for playing down even the most dramatic of events. ("I won the Olympic gold medal for downhill slalom? Cool. Let's go to the pub for a beer tonight to celebrate.")
Don didn't know me then nearly as well as he does now - we were only about two months into our relationship - so he didn't know how deep my penchant for exaggeration went. If I been capable of calling my parents and gutterally gasping into the phone that I had just propelled myself fifty feet off a bridge into a bed of rocks and might never walk again, they likely would have chuckled and said to themselves, "That Leah; always the trickster. Do you suppose she's sprained something?"
I remember telling Don to tell them how serious it was. That he wasn't to minimize. I remember he was nervous calling them because at this point I'm not even sure I had told my parents that I had this new man in my life that I happened to be "living in sin" with and who happened to be Catholic and drink and smoke and and... (Not that he does or is any of those things any more).
The next thing I remember hearing from the pay phone in the hospital hallway (yes, it really WAS that long ago) was Don saying he was a friend of mine and that their daughter had been in a little accident, but she was going to be just fine. I tried to yell out from my emergency room gurney complete with IV drip and traction that I most certainly was not going to be all right and he had better give them the juicy details of my gory accident, but no, not Don. To this day, I believe my parents still think I had a little tumble and I think they think I am faking my limp and that I use my cane just to show them that I am their middle-kid drama queen.
Now that I seldom use a cane and my back brace can be hid fairly well under my clothes (and gives me great cleavage too!), I just look like a slightly lumbering woman who might just be in a bit of pain because of her too-high heels. (I am that, too.)
Well, I do feel a bit of pain. I feel it often. It affects the quality of my life profoundly. I couldn't carry my daughters as infants; I can't bend down and play with them very well; I often have to sit in a wheely chair when I teach because it hurts too much to stand; museums kill me. There's nothing I like more than a good clamber through the beautiful hills of Hong Kong, but lately it's enough to make it through the day. When I get home, I am out of commission. The back is officially done for the day and will do no more (other than ache and spasm). It sucks. Big time.
|Notice I'm the one taking the picture, not playing the frisbee.|
My blog is titled "New Start Every Day." My new start today is not to complain more because that wouldn't be right. Anyway, I complain enough. But my new start is to not minimize the pain I feel. I can still be a great teacher and mother and partner and friend in spite of my tyrannical back, but that doesn't mean I feel great when I am trying to be the superwoman that I am not.
When my physio told me tonight, "Get a bit of exercise tonight; walk back and forth to the kitchen a few times for some water," I just had to roll my eyes. You've got to be kidding. While my friends are out zumba-ing and yoga-ing and training for triathalons I am toddling to the kitchen for a cuppa and that is supposed to be exercise? Yet that's about all I am up for today. And that sucks.
So, there. Feel sorry for me. Even though a lot of people have it a lot worse than I do, I still want a bit of the "how do you do it? You're amazing," coming my way. But even as I write, I know that I am being trivial and self-involved and I don't like myself for being that way. So actually, don't feel sorry for me: feel sorry for someone a whole lot worse off than me. Feel sorry for starving kids, kids without families, families who have lost loved ones, people who need to drag themselves out of bed every day to go to a job they hate. Because in spite of hurting, I am happy. I am grateful. I am amazing (in my own little way).
|By golly, if I can still go wine tasting on trips to Australia, |
life can't be that bad!
PS: Thanks for listening; I needed to get that off my back!