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Monday, 20 August 2012

Tomorrow signals the beginning of my 'late twenties'

Today's blog post has been inspired by Ali at Cheeky Pickle. Happy Birthday Greta xx 


Two years ago to this day, and almost this time, I was drying and putting away dishes as our (now old) housemate washed. Squatting down to put the plastics away, I felt a very deep twinge in my lower left back. A feeling I'd felt earlier that year. I was watchful of myself for the rest of that evening.
The next morning, I woke early. It was Federal Election day, and I wanted to get our voting done early so we could spend the rest of the day celebrating my 26th birthday. My usual morning routine was okay, a little tender but okay. It was a bitterly cold morning on Saturday 21st August 2010. I went and sat on the couch with my phone, checking Facebook. I kept moving, fidgeting, trying to shift and alleviate the pain. It was now after 9am, it was time for A to get out of bed. I stood up from the couch and promptly felt like a rod had been inserted to my spine. Walking was difficult, in fact, I could barely manage a shuffle. I persevered and continued on to get A out of bed, then shower and dress myself. Maneuvering the four steps from the front door to the ground was tough. When we arrived at the car park, we still had to walk another 500m, or there about, to reach our destination. Shuffling along, by the time we reached the venue housing the polls, I had loosened up a touch. A was a bit wary, and suggested I take the ramp. I insisted I was fine, and that I would just take the (very steep) stairs to the top. No sooner had I reached the top, I called out to Alex and collapsed in his arms. I couldn't walk. There were approximately 50 - 60 people at the polls, staring at us. A was standing there holding me, I am crying and writhing in pain, and the two burly security guards are lost as to what to do.
I somehow gain composure and through gritted teeth tell them to get me a chair because A isn't strong enough to hold me (A is very slightly built, and although I was a lot lighter than I am now, I was still a hefty 82kg). They fumbled around for a chair, all the while the eyes were on A and I.

A and I - 30 July 2012, three weeks before my life-altering experience

All things aside, the security guards took charge of the situation, recognising that I needed urgent medical attention (I refused an ambulance be called because I felt I could walk fine once rested), they organised for A and I to go through the polls ahead of the queues. I was absentee voting, so it took a little while longer for me to get through the roll process. I take my politics somewhat seriously too, so it was an agonising vote.
The security guards then assisted me while A brought the car around to collect me. We then had the tedious task of finding somewhere open on a Saturday morning that had an available appointment. I didn't want to go to casualty because I didn't feel that it was serious enough. In the end, we drove 30 minutes across town to the practice I had been using since moving to Melbourne. I shuffled up the ramp while A parked the car. He managed to come walk along side me and into the practice. 
I spent the next two to three hours laying on a hospital bed in the triage area of the practice. All this time, I was trying to contact everyone who was to be joining us for dinner that night to let them know it might not go ahead.
The doctor finally saw us. There wasn't much she could do for me at the time unfortunately. She poked and prodded my back, gave me some Panadeine Forte and other wonderful pain killers, and told me to come back on Monday for an x-ray.
With the PF in my system, I did not want to give up hope on my birthday. We went for a walk down Lygon Street as I had never really been, and we went to Brunetti's for a sweet treat. I also concluded that I wanted to go ahead with dinner as I had been looking forward to it for weeks.
Dinner with my friends was lovely though excruciatingly painful. The food was not as good as I hoped (after a delicious Greek feast in Tasmania, I wanted a Greek feast for my birthday), and afterward some of us headed back to Brunetti's in Carlton for hot drinks and sweets.
Happy 26th birthday to me.


Tomorrow marks two years since my life-altering experience. The x-rays I had two days after my 26th birthday revealed that there was something wrong with my back, and I was sent to see a general physician the next day, who booked me in for an emergency MRI that same night.
Scans showed that it was serious but nothing to be operated on. I have a prolapsed disc in my L4L5 region.
Two years later, it still gives me grief, though nowhere near as much as that painful January and August 2010 (and again in October 2011). I do have to be careful in what I do - stairs are a no-no, in any direction; sitting for too long or standing for too long are not favoured; and, most of all, high impact sport is out. 
For 20 months, I let this condition rule my life. Twenty months too many. In April, I realised it was now or never, and only I could change my situation. Slowly but surely, here I am, four months later, 8 kilograms lighter, and on my way back to being a much happier and healthier person.
I no longer let the negativity affect my limited ability. I still have ability, just not the way I used to, and nowhere near as bad as others. In late 2010/early 2011, after many people asking me if I would be having surgery to correct the problem, I asked my physiotherapist what his opinion was. He advised me that there was not enough neurological damage to warrant surgery. At the time, I wasn't sure if I should be happy or sad. It took me a VERY long time to realise that this is something to be so incredibly happy about. 
Seeing the transformation in myself is amazing. My outlook has gone from being one clouded with negativity, to being one filled with opportunity and sunshine. Sure, there are grey and cloudy days, but then I look in the mirror at that reflection and think, gee I really have done it, and I am getting somewhere. 
For example, today, I put on a singlet that I purchased in late may, early June. At that stage, I'd lost a few kilograms, and it fitted comfortably, sitting just below my stomach/at the top of my thighs. Today when I put that same singlet on (I purchased two two-packs of these singlets, by the way, at a size 16-18) it was about 5cm (2") from my knees! These garments have turned from singlets to slips!

I have had a slight setback with my challenge to reach 88kg by the time 31 August rolls around in 10 days, but since I started my little challenge on 1 July, I have lost a few kilograms and centimetres (stay tuned for my entry next Monday 27 August for my next measurement update). More importantly, I've gained a wardrobe filled with clothes that fit me again; I've re-cultivated my food knowledge; I've regained my confidence and happiness; but most importantly, I've taken those all important steps to regaining my health.
Happy 28th birthday to me!

(Sorry for the lack of imagery, I haven't had many photos taken in the last 2 years because I have felt so ashamed of my appearance. Will make up for it between now and next Monday!)


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