It’s been almost a year and half since I first hear the words “lumbosacral spondylosis.” It came after months of the sciatica pain that I was sometimes prone to just wouldn’t go away. I couldn’t deadlift. I couldn’t squat. I went to the doctor. Then another doctor. There were x-rays. More x-rays. A lot of pills. Physical therapy. MRIs. I read a lot of articles, first person accounts, medical journals—checking with Google Girl almost daily to see if there was something new, to see if I or the doctor who didn’t seem to give a shit, might have missed. I Googled today—just in case.
The specialists left me with only one option—start getting painful epidural injections until such time as surgery was warranted. I simply couldn’t. I went months trying to just cope—to, as my 4-year-old sister says: Suck it up, buttercup. Some days I could work out, some days not. Some days I could do some low weight hi rep lifts—most days I couldn’t.
I decided to try acupuncture. After nearly six weeks of the best naps I had in a long time, I quit going. It was making no difference at all. The last card in my deck remained as I searched my area of chiropractors. It wasn’t that I was averse to going or hadn’t found reprieve in the care of chiropractors before—it was just that so many chiropractors I encountered were of the creepy New-Age-for-profit doctrine that I didn’t want to deal.
My search was narrowed to two that had more than the obligatory friends and family reviews online—and even had a handful of bad reviews. I chose the one with the less of a hugs-for-hire website and booked an appointment. I hobbled in the next day on a sprained ankle and pain shooting down the other leg. Susan greeted me with a handshake and I provided her with my pre-filled in paperwork. Dr. Tom addressed my concerns, did an evaluation and adjustment, then offered to also treat my sprained ankle. It was painful, but I woke the next day with the least amount of pain I had in over a year.
By January I was back in the gym, able to start adding back weight training. While I knew powerlifting was at best a lottery jackpot win away, it felt good to feel my muscles remember what to do. Pain still happened but it was less and less. It finally felt hopeful.
It was early morning of February 17. I was sleeping in the passenger’s seat on the way home from my boyfriend’s gig an hour away from home. Under normal circumstance, I would be the one driving, but two prior nights of insomnia left me sleeping while he loaded out his gear. Just about five minutes from home at around 1:10 a.m. he fell asleep. We both woke to weeds taller than the car smacking the windshield. Then flash of light. Then the car rolled. Once. Twice. Maybe three times and then Joey yelling to me if I was ok. He was lying against the driver’s side door below me. Glass was crispy and everywhere. We struggled to get out, but we did. We called 911 at 1:17 a.m.
The police officer who looked me over was ghost-white, he repeated twice: You should be dead. The second time he said it I told him: Seat belts save lives, sir. He walked away.
Later that same day after rousing friends at 4 a.m. to get us from the emergency room, and getting a few hours of rest, our body swollen and sore, we found our way to where the car had been taken, hoping to recover the rest of the gear and settle up with the tow truck driver. The station was closed but the car—nearly unrecognizable—inside was sitting in a pool of its fluids, bent, shattered, and on flats. It would be Monday before we spoke to anyone and before we knew any further details.
The 2007 Hyndai Accent was traveling north on US202 just before the Eastbound exit to I76 when its driver fell asleep. The car veered off the road at approximately 55 mph and picking up speed missed hitting the guardrail head-on and drove along the embankment. The vehicle, now carrying two awake individuals, hit the guardrail, deploying the airbags. The vehicle took out 30 feet of guardrail before rolling an estimated 10-15 times. The tow truck driver then advised it took him and three trucks over 3 hours to get the car out of the 15-foot drain ditch.
There was no part of the car that wasn’t bent or broken except the passenger side door window, which remained intact. The gear was all undamaged. The driver sustained severe contusions to his right leg and knee, a concussion, and trauma to his back, neck, and left hip, and a burn from the airbag to his stomach. The passenger sustained a severe concussion with photophobia and tinnitus, bruising to her right side, and trauma to the lower left hip, neck, and back from the seat belt.
Three months later, I’ve only had one or two mornings without severe pain in my back and into my leg. Some days, even walking hurts. Recovery is slow. It’s starting over, again. It’s frustrating. Much has improved, but it is easier sometimes to look at the distance still to go versus the ground covered. I took a lot of things for granted.
After the accident writing wasn’t possible outside of what I needed to do for work. The couple of weeks, the ideas and thoughts writers get that propel them to the pen started to return. Last week, I was brave enough to sit down after work one evening and start typing. I wrote on and off for two hours. While some muscles are just going to take a little longer, others are starting to come round.
For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.