I made an amazing discovery the other day; my life has gotten smaller. Now, you are probably thinking, “What does she mean?” and “How could you not notice your life shrinking?” I’ve been described as wildly optimistic and positive, personality traits that perhaps contributed to my lack of awareness about my shrinking life. I’ve focused on what I can do for so long that when the list of what I can’t do began to grow, I hardly noticed. At least until a recent appointment when my doctor pointedly discussed with me how my symptoms are affecting my quality of life. That caught my attention.
This particular M.D. is a pain management doctor. He’s the third one I’ve tried (ever optimistic that the next one will be better) in my quest to get relief from the pain of recurrent back issues I’ve dealt with since 2009. He replaced the last doctor who, after running some tests for low back pain, had told me, “It’s soup down there, I don’t know what else to do.” Although nothing in medicine is certain, I at least want a doctor who can offer hope.
I have an entire village of health professionals who have kept me moving for years. The partial list includes acupuncturists, massage therapists, chiropractors, reiki practitioners, surgeons, rheumatologists, and pain management doctors. Keeping me moving and upright has been one VERY large investment of resources. I should have a 14-karat gold spine! Yet despite the attempts of my caring and committed healthcare team, my world is shrinking.
It didn’t happen overnight; first, when I went to lunch with friends, I could only sit for 45ish minutes before the pain started, so lunch dates were shortened. I didn’t get very far down the agenda at meetings before my back hurt, so I stopped going to meetings if I thought they’d last long. When my husband and I wanted to plan a trip for our 40th wedding anniversary, plans fell flat because we both knew I would be in pain traveling. From there, most travel was eliminated from my life. Going to the movies, a concert, the theater – anything that would require me to sit for any length of time – became problematic. You get the picture; almost without noticing, I gradually eliminated things in my life that made my back hurt.
I’ve always made my health decisions based on living the best life possible today. Those of us with chronic illness know what it means to have to adjust our day depending on how we feel. We are forced to make very difficult decisions about treatments and medications. Few of these come without risk. Having lived with lupus for over 30 years, I’m no novice at this, yet these decisions are difficult and challenging. For me, it is now time to take a big step and move forward with a third back surgery, in hopes of regaining the highest quality of life possible today.
I’m not one to hold back. As they say in sports, I live my life ‘all out.’ I leave nothing on the field after the game and take the risk on the big play. I go for all the extra points and cherish every moment I’m given. So, on December 14, think of me and send a little healing prayer that when I’ve recovered from the surgery it will once again be GAME ON!