Summers aren’t a good time for me. It’s got nothing to do with the unbearable heat, the fact that everybody is on holiday so nothing gets done, and it most definitely doesn’t have anything to do with the amount of kids running about everywhere, complaining about how they have to go back to school soon (just you wait kiddo, just you wait!).
I seem to have bad luck during summer. And when I say bad luck, I mean really bad luck. I’ve been let go (twice), lost friends, forgotten exams, but worst of all, injured myself. Two years ago, on my hen do, I managed to permanently damage a nerve in my right hand. To this day, I have limited feeling and thus limited movement.
A year ago, I thought it’d be a smart idea to go to the gym and start getting fit. I was going to lose weight and I was going to be Iron Amazon. But Summer had other plans and I pulled something in my back.
Slowly but surely the little twinge got worse and worse. I hobbled through a two-week active holiday in Finland, and I worked my way through the first few months of my new job, but at some point my body just gave up and I was in the most excruciating pain I have ever felt. Post-surgery recovery wasn’t even half as bad. Every movement hurt, and I went from seeing friends maybe once a week to spending my 30th birthday on the sofa, wincing in pain. I tried paracetamol, I tried codeine, I tried Tramadol and I tried Diazepam; nothing cut the pain. For months, going to work was a necessary evil. Even the most rudimentary things like personal hygiene were incredibly laborious. I had pain from my lower back down to my right knee, and everything below that was slowly but surely going numb.
In September, after 6 weeks of intense pain (just over two months after the initial onset), I went to my GP to see if I could be referred to a physio. It took 16 weeks to get an appointment. They tried three weeks of physio, after which I was referred for an X-ray and MRI. After another five weeks of waiting (three weeks until the MRI, two weeks until I got the results), I got told that I had a herniated disc between L4&L5. Referral to the neuro ward for surgery was next. After four weeks of waiting, I got an appointment two weeks onwards. At the appointment, it was decided that surgery might not be an option, but that we’d try a nerve block first. A referral was made to a specialist, and this took three weeks to go through.
Why am I telling you this? Well, because last Tuesday, a year after the initial injury, I went through 15 minutes of uncomfortable needle-poking, and for the first time in a long while, I am completely pain-free. For the first time in a year, I feel like I can go shopping, like I can go out and meet friends. If you’ve never experienced chronic pain, you don’t fully understand what a relief that is. You don’t see what an effect pain has on life, and you don’t see how it hurts to see friendships flit away just because you’re incapable to keep them up. You don’t fully understand what it’s like to plan everything around you not walking for longer than five minutes, making sure there’s a seat nearby. I never knew, but now I do. I wish I didn’t. But, for the first time in a year, I’m comfortable.
So, tomorrow I will celebrate by going to the gym. Because I can.