A year ago today, my back went pop. Yes, like the weasel in the song, I’d put it under too much pressure carrying heavy, awkward ceremonial shovels at work (don’t ask), and something had to give.
In my case it was the disc at L3, exploding into the space between it and the nerve, causing compression, inflammation and excruciating neural pain like no other, or sciatica as it’s often called.
This unpredictable pain lingers today, two months out from a successful back operation; a surgical procedure called a microdiscectomy, to remove the gunky bits of disc that my body refused to reabsorb, instead preferring to stick around for a 10-month long party, poking into my horribly angry nerve day and night, with all the regularity of a demented 70s disco beat.
If you saw me during this period and wondered why I looked as if I’d seen a poltergeist, I was certainly housing one in my right lower back, enthusiastically stretching its pulsating tentacles into my right hip and leg.
But, back to that ‘pop’. It was a visceral and audible sensation that I won’t forget anytime soon, as I woke with a locked-up back and stiffness I’d never before experienced, and decided to try and stretch it out. Wrong, wrong. WRONG!!!
It kicked off a long, fearfully sobering year characterised by pain, pain killers, loss of control, asking for and accepting help, multitudinous medical and rehab appointments, despair, identity crises, personal doubt and the eye-opening realisation that not everyone would stick with you along your pilgrimage of pain, but others would step up more than you knew they were capable of.
And to the moment that crystallised adulthood? This was not just for me, but for and via my daughter. Despite her young years, she has been experiencing her own pesky back pain, doing prescribed strengthening exercises and physio treatment with some, but not enough relief.
I may have suggested a couple of times that replacing the crappy mattress she inherited when she moved out, with a brand spanker, might help provide much-needed support for a part of her body that really deserves respect and care to get her all the way to and beyond 50, like me.
And bingo, one night, she did it! But spending $900 “made me feel sick, tbh”, messaged this fiercely independent girl. My response was classic mum – you should not regret spending sensible (and nonsensical) money on yourself, you are worth more than a measley (weasley?) $900, and yes mattresses are expensive but your back health is worth more than $900. Welcome to adulthood, I said. And that’s when the grown up penny dropped.
We graduate from childhood to adulthood slowly, moving forwards and backwards over several years, hopefully learning tips and tricks to smooth the way. But it’s when we own our shit, our stuff, our weaknesses and strengths and continue moving productively forward anyway, that progression across the border into adulthood happens, almost by osmosis.
Adulthood really isn’t a dirty word. It’s just saying yep, my back’s stuffed, I’m gonna spend $900 on it, and keep treating it, myself, with respect.
It’s about respect. When you consciously give your own health and well being top priority, adulthood has arrived. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, because ain’t no one else gonna do it for you. That childhood era is over.
So fess up. You’re a grown up too, aren’t you.
Now, where did I put my Harry Potter and Dr Who figurines…