Okay, I still can’t believe I’m writing about this part of my story publicly. But it seems like I’ve reached the point in my life where my need to say something is beginning to outweigh my fear. So here we go:
I was 21.
I’d finally had leg surgery, which had successfully cured my compartment syndrome. And now I’d just stopped needing to take painkillers for my back. I’d completed three semesters of college, and I was excited to keep moving forward and try to live a normal life.
These posts have been pretty heavy so far, so I want to take a moment and actually reassure you that this was a really positive time in my life. I loved my new school, and my new friends, and I loved what I was studying. I was completely at home in the socially conscious, hippie atmosphere of Western MA– I felt as though I was finally where I was meant to be.
But something had changed within my body. Even though I no longer had a major injury, it seemed like every little thing I did could set off some kind of pain.
I’d open a heavy door, and my elbow would hurt afterwards, for days.
I’d do a lot of typing, and my wrists would burn so intensely that I’d start wondering if I had carpal tunnel.
I tried to get back into running, but the first time I reached a good speed, I developed a stabbing pain underneath my right shoulder blade and had to back off.
At the time, I’d had no idea this could have anything to do with the way my nervous system was functioning. It just seemed like my body had changed; like it wasn’t able to heal from things anymore.
I actually started to wonder if there was something fundamentally wrong, deep in my tissues, and now I was somehow prone to getting injured really easily. It seemed like every little thing I did created more pain.
I didn’t like this new body, and I wanted my old body back.
I remembered what it was like, before my surgery and this whole episode with “glass back syndrome”– before pain had encapsulated my whole body.
I’d had other injuries before, of course– shin splints, as well as a partial tear of my hip flexor tendon during my freshman year of high school. But what had made these injuries different is the pain always stayed in one place, and when the injury had healed, I was strong.
Now my body was profoundly different. I felt like it couldn’t withstand anything; couldn’t stand up to life. Every little thing made me feel like something was broken, or that I was “injured.”
If I opened a door wrong, or carried something heavy, or went for a walk when it was super cold out— every little thing I did seemed to create a “micro-injury.” I’d have pain, or pins and needles, or some other weird symptom, and feel like I couldn’t use that part of my body for days.
My once powerful body, that had carried me up hills, and down rocky slopes– the body that made half of the girls on my cross-country team hate me, because I was always #1– somehow, right as the rest of my life was starting to get back on track, it had turned to glass.
To be continued in Part 4.
To start from the beginning of this series: