I Woke Up Like This
Two weeks ago, I woke up and couldn’t lift my head off my pillow.
That’s not scary…
I tried again; a bolt of hot, searing pain shot up the left side of my neck, down my shoulder, and across my back. Maybe I slept funny, and it would pass. I lay still for a few more minutes, and then tried again. Nope! I slid off my bed, supported my neck with my hands and stood up. It was like an electric shock passed from my left ear to my mid back. I whimpered and went looking for my mama because I’m a grownup who still needs her mama when she’s hurt (and having a massage therapist in the house is clutch in moments like this).
After a 30 minute massage, the pain was worse. That is NOT how massages are supposed to work. By the time I was washing my hair in the shower I was sobbing. I have a high pain tolerance, but this was agonizing. It felt like there were shards of bone in my neck, gnarled knots and pressure along my shoulder, and my head had to stay tilted to the right side like a cheeky parrot. Getting dressed was a slow and teary process, and when my mama gave me a comforting hug, I screamed out in pain.
Ok, something was really wrong.
Twenty-four hours, six X-rays, and two Chiropractic appointments later, I had my answer.
The Bad News:
When your Chiropractor says “Sweetheart, don’t look at the X-rays. Look at me. ”
In 2012, I was hit head-on by a speeding drunk driver. I had lacerations across my chest from the seat belt, a few burns, and two bruised knees. That seemed to be it.
Here we are in 2016, and X-rays show that the accident changed the alignment of five cervical vertebrae in my neck. Where the spine should be convex, it is concave, and my vertebrae have twisted to the left poking into my shoulder muscles, and putting pressure on my neck. The ER team never detected the initial injury and I had no pain. Over time, the damage grew worse and I had no clue.
The Good News: It’s correctable.
After high voltage electric shock therapy to my muscles, and spinal adjustments, I have 60% pain relief, and 45% of my mobility is back. I will continue these weekly treatments for 6 months, and am looking at a completely corrected spine and full mobility by the end of the year. Miraculous. After 6 months, I will need occasional adjustments to maintain the alignment, and will have to perform a series of stretches every day for the rest of my life. I’m still achy and stiff, and have been banned from the gym for a month or two, but this is not forever and I am so blessed. If this happened eighteen months from now, I would have been in severe trouble.
This has been the biggest lesson: life has speed bumps and you probably won’t see them coming. I had no pain in my neck before I woke up one morning and couldn’t move. A week before, I was doing sets of push-ups, running, lifting weights, sparring with 6-foot-tall men in Krav Maga classes. I was active and strong! Two days after my doctor’s appointment I was praising Jesus because I could go for a walk and drive short distances.
I had to let go of a lot of pride and vanity, and accept that I’m not going to be as toned as I wanted to be this summer. My diet will have to be strict to reduce the inflammation in my body, and I’m finding new ways to be active. I can’t (and won’t) stay on pain killers for 6 months, so I’m using Young Living Panaway and Deep Relief essential oils and 2 oz. of Ninxgia Red a day. I’m also learning not to take good health for granted. Things can change so quickly.
This was a torpedo, silently moving under the water and then blowing a crater in my battleship. But God has been faithful. The most moving moment of this experience happened as I was strapped to the electric therapy machine, and processing what this was going to mean for my time, finances, and long-term health. I wasn’t even praying, but I felt the Lord enter the room, and I started to tear up.
“Baby, I need you to be brave.” He whispered. “I don’t make mistakes, and this happened for a beautiful reason. You’ll see. Be Brave. I’m here.”
Seriously, what else do you need?