Brokeback Deborah

Sunday, December 31, 2023 Permalink

Eight weeks ago I fell over. It sounds so banal it screws with my head a little. But in all honesty it’s impacted on me a lot. More, in fact, than the couple of surgeries I had for my atrial fibrillation three years ago (not to mention the fact it took them six attempts with the defibrillators to bring me back).

I should mention I didn’t exactly just fall over, I leapt out of the way of a turning truck and landed firmly on my butt on the foothpath in the state’s capital as I was rushing to work. What came next was an ambulance ride, 4-5 days in hospital and advice that I’d crushed one vertebra in my back (L3 for those to whom it means something) and later discovered a fracture in another (T11).

Or a 12/10 pedestrian when you leap out of the way so they can turn EVEN WHEN the ‘walk’ light is still on!

The only treatment they could offer me was pain relief and advice that I had to wait for 6 weeks before moving much at all.

The thing that stressed me most at the time was that I had a really busy week planned in the city. Lots of important meetings. They were why I was there. I was busy. I was in the middle leg of a three-location-trip and was to travel again in a few days.

As I wasn’t initially capable of doing much my darling mother stayed with me for a couple of weeks and then returned at regular intervals to take me to medical appointments for the next four weeks.

I’ve been really struggling with all of this. I wasn’t allowed to work full days and became unbelievably (like ridiculously) upset when I was told I had to work reduced hours. I mean, I realise I’m not indispensable but again it seemed as if I was in the wrong somehow, that I was being punished and it felt like I deserved it. I was a burden and easily disregarded.

In the beginning I was really reluctant to make a big deal about the injury – even though I gather it was quite a severe – as I’ve felt as if it’s the result of some weakness of mine or a deficiency of some sort.

It’s made the last couple of months some of the hardest in my life – physically because the pain has been excruciating, I still can’t sit properly and am fearful it will never improve; but also mentally and emotionally. I’ve missed out on stacks of opportunities at work because of this and that’s angered and saddened me. And it’s made me feel fragile and vulnerable.

But as this year draws to a close I’m reminding myself that my back is better than it was a month ago and I read today that 12 weeks or three months is the average time it takes to fully mend. So in another four weeks I may again feel like it’s worth leaving the house to do stuff because I WILL be able to enjoy myself again.

12 Comments
  • Sharmila
    December 31, 2023

    You certainly out did me with your accident! Here’s wishing us both a happiest 2024!

    • Debbish
      December 31, 2023

      Oh yes… big changes for us work-wise. I’m feeling a little hopeful about ours I’ve decided.

  • Jo
    January 1, 2024

    I truly feel for you with this – when you’re in pain like that it’s almost impossible to imagine a time when you won’t be and when things will be normal. Much love …

    • Debbish
      January 1, 2024

      On top of the self-pity I (of course) feel guilty for feeling so maudlin. Two months just feels like a big chunk of the last year I guess and it’s hard to reflect back on the year and not have it tainted by that. (Even though I know there was a lot of good stuff too.)

  • Kate W
    January 1, 2024

    Take care of yourself. It’s hard to focus on much else when you’re experiencing physical pain, and you fail to see the small improvements (I could sit for an hour! Last week I could only sit for 45mins!) – these ‘improvements’ feel unfair when you measure against the pre-injury-you but take it day by day and accept all the help and kindness that others offer (that can be difficult as well!).

    • Debbish
      January 1, 2024

      True – you feel guilty for being dependent or not being able to do what you SHOULD be able to do. I think the biggest surprise for me – particularly when I was trying to downplay it – was the comments from everyone from my GP to my physio to my heart specialist who commented on what a big injury it was. My heart specialist said that if that (back) trauma didn’t send me back into atrial fibrillation then the meds I’m on (and previous surgery) are doing the trick. I’m always ridiculously paranoid that people will think I’m a hypochondriac that I don’t like talking about health issues.

  • Vanessa
    January 1, 2024

    There’s a whole big scope of vulnerability and internalised ableism that can come with short and long term health issues.
    And don’t underestimate the mental & physical costs of pain; I literally had an argument with a H&S person over the challenges of pain when I had a work injury.

    • Debbish
      January 2, 2024

      It felt really disempowering. I initially didn’t want to reduce my hours and basically got told to stop working until I could get a certificate saying I was able to and I felt like I’d been sacked or something. There were a few things happening that meant I didn’t feel I could take time off as it would leave my team in the lurch but I wonder in retrospect if taking the 2-3 weeks would have helped heal without some of the work stress.

  • Susanne
    January 2, 2024

    My own misery last year pales in comparison to your back injury! I’m so glad you’re better and can be out and about again but so sorry you’re still in so much pain. The back is so exposed when you move and I can imagine it takes some time to be pain free, but as it heals, in my mind you should get back to normal! I assume you’re getting help from a physiotherapist (since you mentioned one), they are miracle workers sent from heaven in my opinion!
    Take care of yourself and let time do its thing.

    • Debbish
      January 2, 2024

      Yes I started doing some pool therapy with my physio last week which was good. There wasn’t much I could do until the 6 week mark and I still can’t really ‘lift’ or make any jerky movements so a fair bit of stretching. I’m supposed to be walking but it’s hot and stormy here at the moment and I live in a hilly area (and am lazy!).

      But I’m good at doing my stretches as they also help my back feel better.

  • Jennifer Jones
    January 3, 2024

    I’m so sorry to hear this has happened to you Deb. I do understand what you’re going through
    as in 2008 I was hit by a car and broke 2 bones in my back and crushed one. By three months I was back on the bike. I only tell you this to let you know that there is hope. It will take time but I’m sure you will be back to your old self soon.

    • Debbish
      January 3, 2024

      Oh thanks for that. I did read something the other day about the ‘3 month’ mark. (Though I’d been looking forward to the 6wk mark as well.) The biggest issue for me at the moment is sitting. The downwards pressure on my spine is just too much.

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