I’ve been quiet here on the blog the past few weeks, as I’ve been recovering from one of the most painful days on record, and all that followed from that.
A little over a month ago, I woke up to the start of my period. I went to my go-to spot in the tub, surrounded by warm water and Epsom salt.
The pain and contractions kicked in and I started to feel nauseous from the pressure on my abdomen. As I slowly got up, I dry heaved.
That action triggered the bulging discs in my lower back. It felt like someone kicked my lower spine. I screamed in pain and collapsed back in the tub. I couldn’t move.
This is Bad.
There wasn’t anything for me to grab onto to lift myself up out of the tub. My husband, Ryan, was sleeping so he didn’t react to my scream.
Spasms of pain rocked my lower back when I moved, while my body shook with contractions from the start of my period.
I’m not sure how I managed to pull myself up out of the water. Adrenaline.
This is bad, I thought. Panic swept through.
I slowly moved to the bedroom. I was sobbing and shaking uncontrollably. Ryan woke and got up to greet me.
“I threw my back out. I don’t know what to do,” I said between tears.
He helped me to the bed and tried to encourage me, “You’re going to get through this.”
The painful spasms from my spine were ten times as bad as the period pain. It was a new level, one I haven’t felt in over a decade.
“Why?!” I screamed out in frustration.
It was an old wound that showed up again. Why now?
Prior to the start of my period, and throwing my back out in the tub, I was feeling better than ever. I had no symptoms in the week prior and was feeling good about my healing progress.
There was a point when I thought that I could potentially be pregnant.
The thought was enough for me to fish out an old pregnancy test I had stored under the sink. After following the instructions, and peeing on the stick, I waited for the results…
But all that showed was a question mark.
Apparently the test was expired, yet the question mark left me feeling unsettled, perhaps as a future reflection of the question I pondered.
At the Root of It
I first injured my lower back in the ocean early in my twenties. It happened on the Oahu North Shore.
I thought back to the memory of that time, and couldn’t help but pull in the energetic statement that pierced my lower back in the present.
Before we flew out to Oahu, I missed taking a few days of birth control pills and during that time I had sex with Ryan. I freaked out. I was convinced that my body was pregnant.
I knew little about my body then. Somewhere along the line I’d missed the part about ovulation and the semantics of how one actually got pregnant. All I knew was I’d had sex and missed a couple of pills.
I’m embarrassed and ashamed to say that fear drove me to purchasing a morning after pill. Looking back on that decision I see how naive I was.
I was completely disconnected from my body at the time. Who knew what was in that pill?
Ryan and I were struggling financially and we weren’t married. I was afraid of a kid showing up. I didn’t think we could handle it.
So I took a pill aimed at killing life.
Karmic. It was a message I sent out into the universe, driven by fear.
The Next Day
The day after popping that pill Ryan and I got on a plane and flew to Oahu with his family. It was my first time there.
We went to Waimea Bay Beach and I started to feel really nauseous. When I got up, I lost my balance. I excused myself to the restroom and tried to make sense of the beautiful environment around me, that was disrupted by sickness… of my own doing.
After resting for a bit on the beach, I started to feel better. I joined Ryan and his family in the ocean. I jumped into the waves, and felt the salt on my skin and the sand in my toes.
It was March, so the waves on the North Shore were rough. It didn’t take long for me to get hit hard. I fell down into the suffocation of the waves and I landed on my butt, with the impact of the earth jolting my spine.
Ryan’s strong arms pulled me out of the waves and helped me back to solid ground.
My back and tailbone were super sore after the fall in the water. Regardless, I still jumped off the rock on Waimea Bay Beach. I didn’t think too much about it. I stepped up to the edge and dropped in.
As an inexperienced jumper I bent my knees at the last second, so the impact of the water smacked my butt and thighs, hard. That couldn’t have helped things.
The journey begins…
After I returned home, I was lifting weights and pulled my back out for the first time. I felt the snap. From that point on I consistently pulled it out every couple of months.
Concerned, my family doctor sent me in for an MRI, which revealed two herniated discs in my lower spine. One of which was hitting my sciatic nerve, causing the pain to cascade all the way down my legs and feet. She sent me to a specialist for further examination.
“This is really bad,” the doctor said after reviewing my images. He suggested surgery.
At the time I had two co-workers who had back issues and were going through multiple surgeries that didn’t end up helping. It only made things worse.
Another co-worker of mine told me a story of how her husband had back surgery and the surgeon hit a nerve that caused horrible chronic pain afterwards.
I was influenced by these stories and decided not to do the surgery.
For the love of yoga
Instead, I started doing yoga. I heard that it could help with back pain, so I figured I’d give it a shot. Stretching did help me to feel better.
Yoga slowed me down and brought awareness to the connection of my body and breath. This was the first time I’d really made that connection, and little did I know then that I was being introduced to an active type meditation.
Yoga strengthened my core, and in turn, my back. As my yoga practice became regular, my back felt better. I stopped throwing it out.
But the pain there didn’t fully go away. The ache was a reminder of that day in the water and the decision I’d made the day before, driven by a deeply rooted fear.
When I damaged my back in the ocean, my life changed. The water knocked me off my feet and it broke my root. I met the worst physical pain I’d felt in my life, but it changed my trajectory.
Looking back, I see that it changed everything.
When you’re forced to stop & surrender
That old wound was re-ignited in the water again, over a decade later, coupled with the start of my period.
The days to follow were filled with a lot of emotions. Frustration. Sadness. Anger.
I couldn’t move without consequence. I was stuck on my back when I slept. I felt trapped.
I was reliant on Ryan. I needed help with everything. That’s a hard spot for me, Miss Independent. I hate asking for help.
But I didn’t have a choice. I had to surrender, completely. I couldn’t move without being shocked by spasms. I was forced to sit still.
I was forced to stop and evaluate every single move I made. Was it worth it?
I made it through those feelings of paralysis when I asked myself: what’s the worst that could happen if I move? I got shocked with pain.
At first those shocks made me gasp or scream, which freaked out Ryan and the dogs. Eventually I got used to the shock, as best I could, and breathed my way through.
I could see the feelings of helplessness on Ryan’s face. He couldn’t touch me without my back violently shaking with spasms.
Recovery was slow, but after a few days the spasms finally subsided. Yet the question didn’t leave me. Why? Why is this happening now?
Once I made it through the trenches the answer to that question started to materialize in my mind.
There are profound lessons to be learned from this dramatic injury to my lower back, my root, my support, which happened simultaneously with pain in my sacral space.
The kick came in the meeting point of these two energetic areas of my body and it caused me to collapse.
Taking a look at the bigger picture helped me see more clearly. Things need to change.
The tighter the coil, the harder the snap.
My yoga practice has faltered. It stopped being a priority and that time was swapped out with too much time at the computer.
The more days without stretch, the tighter the coil, until it snapped.
When the strength returns to this core part of my body, I promised myself that yoga would become a mandatory event at least four times a week.
I also need to prevent long hours in front of the computer. I need to get up and move every hour or so.
Take time to support yourself.
The pain over the past month forced me to pull away from the computer, which took me from this space and from the Peace with Endo community on social media.
I had to take time to support myself, over my natural instinct to support others. I think as women, this one is often overlooked. Don’t forget to fill your own cup.
Be open to receiving help.
I opened myself up for help. I had no choice on this one. I’m not sure what I would have done had Ryan not been there.
Every night before I went to sleep I asked for healing on my lower back from the angels. I’m open to receiving it.
Each night I fed myself with positive thoughts that in the morning I would feel better. I’d be able to move without pain. These prayers and positive intentions helped me along the way.
After the spasms finally settled and my appetite returned, I knew I needed to lower the inflammation in my body, and that the best and most important way to do that is through food.
As I became more mobile I made a point to add in healing anti-inflammatory foods like wild blueberries, avocados, sweet potatoes and lots of greens.
I avoided eating anything that was inflammatory. I filled my body with nature’s healing choices.
I don’t feel safe.
I thought back to that time in the water over a decade ago, and the decision I made the day before, and the infertility struggles that continue to plague my sacral space to this day.
I understand now that much of this connects back to a deeper subconscious fear that I’ve uncovered in the past year which is summed up simply as, “I don’t feel safe.”
These are emotions most prevalent in the root space and transit to an underlying belief that it’s not safe to bring a child here. This is a deeper topic for another day.
I continue to try and re-write this subconscious belief through the practice of surrender, but maybe I needed a bigger kick in that direction.
The pain in my back forced me to surrender. A lesson that’s been the most important in this life with endo & struggles to start a family of our own.
On the Positive Side?
Each day my root grows stronger. Each day I have more flexibility and I’m grateful for simple things that I took for granted. You really don’t realize how much you use your back, until it’s no longer an option.
I’m also super grateful that I invested in an intelliBED mattress a couple of years ago. It’s designed to support your spine and keep it straight. I needed that when the strength gave way and the stiffness took hold.
I went to my bed to re-set, and at night I was able to get the rest that my body and mind very much needed.
The lessons I’ve taken from the re-ignition of the old wound in my root is summed up in profound lessons that I’ve learned from a life with chronic pain: self-care is necessary, support yourself, surrender, be open to receiving help, have faith, and be grateful for the little things.