Week 33/2023: It all came crashing down

Week of 14 August 2023

When everything comes crashing down

Remember last week, I said everything was coming along well with my back injury and I’d been feeling really good. We finished clearing out Mum’s flat and I had a nice relaxing weekend, ready to go back to work on Monday.

It’s never that simple though, is it?

I reached down for my shoe on Monday morning and my back seized up and everything I thought had resolved hadn’t.

It was heartbreaking.

It was almost exactly six weeks since I did the original injury, where I’d been emptying kitchen scraps into the compost bin, twinged my back and ended up with nerve pain all the way down my leg. I read that injuries involving nerves can take six to twelve weeks to heal so when I was feeling better at the five- to six-week mark, I thought it was all over.

Apparently not.

At first, I thought it was a minor setback that would settle down in a couple of days. I still had plenty of painkillers left because I’d stopped needing them, but by Wednesday when nothing was getting any better I started making appointments. I got in to see my osteopath because she’d had a cancellation but, due to a mix-up, I wasn’t able to speak to a GP until Friday.

Now I have different medications, one of which targets nerve pain, more time off work, and a lot of pain to deal with. The new medications are making me drowsy and on the weekend all I can do is lie on the couch. Sitting is the most painful activity so I can’t work, I can only write in short bursts, and a very slow, awkward ten-minute walk is my limit, once the drowsy pills have worn off and the painkiller ones have started to kick in.

Small yellow daffodils growing in a leafy green undergrowth
I made myself go outside

This was not how I’d expected the week to turn out.

The thought of six to twelve more weeks of this is something I can’t deal with right now and my brain is turning to catastrophising thoughts along the lines of “What if this never gets better?” “What if it keeps happening?” “If I can’t even pick up a shoe without hurting myself, how am I ever going to move freely again?”

I’m really not in a good place this week.

Four vertical windows wrapped around a corner, with a tall light in front
View from the couch

Summary of the week

What was the best thing about this week?

I follow video creator Fraser Grut on Instagram. His project is to film the dreams of 10,000 humans before he dies, and he does this “to help the world dream”.

He says the project started as a bet with a mate in 2016. He wrote out a list of five impossible dreamers to film by 2044. Since then, he has filmed Jacinta Ardern’s dream, Jane Goodall, astronaut Chris Hadfield, Ashton Kutcher and Mick Fanning.

At first, I thought dream number 1920 would be the best thing about this week. It was from impossible dreamer number five on Fraser’s list, Elmo.

But for me, Elmo was topped by number 1921, Abby Cadabby the next day.

“My dream would be to help people to follow their heart. To let them know they’re not alone. I wish that everyone would have a friend and someone to believe in themselves. And also, you should be a friend to yourself.”

It was a beautiful conversation that made me feel a lot better and more hopeful.

What did I learn this week?

I attended a webinar about looking beyond the gender binary. It reaffirmed some things that I’d become aware of over the past couple of years. One of the panellists observed that with regards to the gender spectrum, what is important is how you describe yourself now, not what the legal document you were issued at birth says.

They spoke about how the language we use is a habit and that we need to break the habit of speaking in the gender binary. This is hard to do if non-binary is not your lived experience, so you have to learn to do it and do it deliberately.

Pronouns are not gender expression. They are pronouns.

In relation to using the wrong pronouns to describe a person, one of the panelists said what you need to do is say sorry, use the correct pronoun and move on. They said not to explain about why you’re sorry or get mad at yourself for getting it wrong, because that makes it about you and it isn’t about you.

Finally, they said, don’t wait for other people to educate you. If there are people with lived experience speaking out, this is great and you can learn a lot from them, but they aren’t obliged to educate you. You have to take responsibility for your own learning.

What am I reading this week?

  • The Perfectionist’s Guide to Losing Control by Katherine Morgan Schafler
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