Over the course of the next two weeks it became apparent I had somehow (I still don’t know how) hurt myself. I have no clue how it happened. There was never any moment of lifting my overstuffed briefcase out of the back seat of my car and feeling anything strange, never any moment at the gym that gave me pause. But an MRI revealed bulging disks at the L3 and L4 positions in my lower spine. A visit to a pain doctor led to a diagnosis of pinched nerves. This amazing and talented healer could tell just from my description of the path of the pain and numbness down my leg exactly which nerves.
As I sat in his outer office waiting my turn to be seen a parade of damaged people limped and wobbled through; victims of car crashes and on-the-job injuries, some so dire mine paled by comparison. It made me acutely aware of the amount of physical pain many people must endure. I had hope that mine would abate at some point, but it became clear that for some, it would never go away. What must that be like?
As a writer I am used to letting my mind wander down strange paths and into dark corners in the pursuit of a character’s inner life, but the thought of living with the kind of overwhelming pain I had recently experienced—on a chronic basis—was difficult to examine too closely.
During those first two weeks I was almost completely helpless. My husband had to take care of me, helping me to the bathroom, helping me dress myself, and making all our meals by himself. Our house is two-story and stairs were non-negotiable, so he made up the bed for me in our daughter’s old room downstairs, then slept with his phone beside him, in case he was needed during the night. I tried not to wake him. He was doing a lot to care for me, on top of his day job.
My daughter drove all the long way to my home from her home in Scottsdale, and met with clients for me when I was unable. She had worked as my assistant briefly when she was younger and now that experience proved to be a blessing. She filled in for me without question or complaint, even though she is enrolled at ASU, and is employed as the manager of two sports rehab clinics. She also drove me to a doctor appointment, as did my son. I have been pleasantly amazed at how giving and selfless the people around me have been. My friend Diana offered to pick me up for the monthly meeting of our workshop without me even having to ask. Near the end of the meeting she turned to me and asked if I would be able to stand after sitting so long, which stunned me, because I’d just been privately wondering the same thing. (I was able to stand, but this had been the longest I’d sat up in a chair since the ‘event’.) Am I suggesting she’s clairvoyant? Not at all; just empathic. She is obviously able to put herself in another’s place, and know what they are feeling.
And of course I will never forget my neighbor Laura sending over dinner the evening we got home from the emergency room. I know she doesn’t expect anything in return, but I’m going to think of something.
As of writing this I am nearly recovered. I have some numbness and slight paralysis in my right leg that diminishes with each day that passes. I will walk with a cane for a while longer, but eventually I know I will be able to put it aside and get on with my life as usual. But I hope I never forget this experience, because it has taught me a new, deeper level of compassion and appreciation for others. A gratefulness for those around me who selflessly gave me help when it was needed, and a thankfulness for the health I have. Those are the life lessons I will hold close and cherish.
Next week: My Lucky 7 Post. Stop by to get a sneak peek at 7 lines from Sword of Mordrey.