suffering used to be my thing

Here’s the thing I know about living in chronic pain: it will ruin your life if you allow it to. In July 2015 I woke up one morning and couldn’t move. I had so much pain in my low back and left leg that getting out of bed felt like the worst thing ever. I had no idea what was happening or what I should do. So instead of going to the hospital, like a normal person, I did nothing. I suffered. I cried and wailed with pain. I took Advil and put ice on my back. And that did nothing. It would be like treating a stab wound victim with a band aid.

Two days of extreme suffering later, and the pain getting worse, I went to see my doctor. He did a quick assessment and gave me muscle relaxants believing that it was muscular. I, knowing in my heart that it was not, said nothing but gratefully accepted the muscle relaxants. I went home. I cried and cried and cried. And yet, I still did nothing. And then, because at that point I was so terrible at taking care of myself and putting what I need first, I went back to work. And I stayed at work, in terrible pain, for another 6 months. I was in so much pain that I would go home at the end of every day and cry. I could barely walk. People who knew me then would ask me what was wrong with my back because I was hunched forward in pain. I looked like I was in pain all the time, and I was.

I only got an MRI after about 9 months of this hell. The MRI showed I had a large herniation in one of the discs in my lower back. It took another two years, 2 MRIs, three cortisone injections in my spine and hundreds of hours of physiotherapy before I had surgery to repair my back in 2018.

Please, don’t be like me and make suffering your thing too. Work is work. It’s always going to be there, whether you’re there or not. Take care of yourself first or you’ll end up like me, hunched over in a stairwell crying because you can’t manage to walk up a flight of stairs to your next meeting. xo Janet

Published by Janet Gwilliam-Wright

Feminist and queer. Professional teller of truths. Slayer of personal demons.

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