bad news has never sounded so very very good!

i had just turned 20 when it happened.
my mom and i were rear-ended . . .
on the highway.
there were no injuries
that i was aware of.

a few weeks later,
i started training at the gym
with my friend stephanie.
we both loved weight training
because it made us feel
like strong women.
(i don't think it is a coincidence
that we are both pychotherapists now.)

during this time,
my dad finally decided
that he did want the divorce.
and an entire year of negotiations
and waiting began.

it is hard to say what the culprit was,
but between an accident,
emotional stress,
and a few injuries at the gym,
i was soon living with lower back pain.

over the next year, the pain crept
all over my back and into
my neck and shoulders.
in the past 6 years,
the pain has translated into hip pain,
shooting pains down my legs and sometimes arms,
and overall discomfort.
not to mention moodiness, fatigue, and brain fog.
oh, and i was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

eleven years later,
i can honestly say
that i have done my very best
to live a full life,
despite the chronic pain.

i have been a swing dancer,
lived in mexico
where i did construction
and slept on a canvas cot,
waited tables at a restaurant,
put myself through grad school,
exercised regularly,
and pursued a career in counseling.

yesterday, herb and i looked at my MRI films
(how on earth i managed to go 11 years
without an MRI is beyond both of us!!!
i have tired so many things,
but never have i had an MRI).

while there,
we learned that i have been living
with two bulging discs.
they are small,
but over the years, they have become
so irritated
that i now have inflammation all over my body.
which would explain
(in MY opinion)
at least part of my fibromyalgia symptoms.
the inflammation is irritating my nerves.

oh, and all of that
"living a full life,
despite the fact that i am in pain?"
well, somewhere along the way,
i have managed to tear the ligament
that protects the discs that are bulging.

so, i have two bulging discs,
inflammation that has become systemic,
nerve irritation,
and two tears in the protective ligament of my discs.

wow, no wonder i have been tired and cranky for so long.

when the doctor left the room for a moment,
herb looked at me and said,
"you must be so happy!?!"

and it is true.
i am.
i am thrilled to know what is wrong with me.
it is hard on a girl's soul to feel sick all of the time,
but feel like she is without excuse.
for so long, i have been wanting a diagnosis.
because most of the time,
a diagnosis comes with a plan.

and a plan i have.
no, i won't be having back surgery.
but i will be following a very involved
non-surgical plan
that will hopefully find me pretty close to pain free
by christmas.

several times over the past year or two,
i have wondered,
"at what point will i just shut down
and say, i'm done? because sometimes i just can't
go anymore. sometimes the pain and fatigue
are so grand that i can't stand another minute
of obligation or even fun things that i want to do!"

but i knew i would never let myself do it -
just close the doors,
crawl into bed
and stay there until i got better.
because i didn't feel like i had a reason.
i didn't feel justified.

but now?
oh, i couldn't be happier to have been put
on major physical restriction!
and while i am nervous about not exercising for a month,
(you know, to protect my bulges and tears and irritation?)
i am thrilled to have been told that i don't need to be doing much more
than doing my treatments,
seeing a few clients at work,
and then going home to lay on my couch.

so that is the plan.
all new clients will be going to interns.
grocery shopping will be done
on the weekends,
when herb can help bring in the bags.
if i need to, i will hire someone to clean the house.
i probably won't,
but i feel total freedom to do so if i need to!!!

what is most unbelievable to me about all of this?
i have never lived a day as a pain-free adult!
the freedom and choices that come with adulthood
have all been viewed and made
through the lens of chronic pain!

the reality is,
while in many regards i am who i am,
and not much has changed since 2nd grade,
i don't know some very real parts of myself.
they have been muted by pain and fatigue.
my creative efforts have been limited.
and my moodiness and irritability
(though my family can tell you are not entirely new traits)
they have been highly exacerbated over the past decade.

my biggest hope is to uncover more of my vibrant self
during this process of healing.

so, this morning,
i am still in shock.
but my heart is beginning to rest.
i am so thankful to finally be on a path
towards whole health!

(if you have any ideas of ways i can entertain myself
while laying down or taking it easy,
please please please leave me a comment!
i have a very bad habit of watching hours of tv
and surfing the internet when i am supposed to be resting.
but i would really love to have some choices
that are somewhat stimulating and productive.
any help would just be the best!)

thanks friends, for reading this part of my story!


Blogger Melanie said...

yay, Cara!!

this is very cool bad news. how good is our God that you could be pain free by Christmas?! what an amazing Christmas gift from Jesus Himself!!!

as for occupying your time? i suggest reading. maybe you would want to pick up some literary classics, you know, hemmingway, thoreau, stuff like that. if i had a month on the couch, that is what i would do. xo oh and i would watch every movie under the sun. LOL

8:14 AM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger denverherbie said...

Wait... I have to carry grocery bags? :)
This really is great bad news.
I can't wait for my Cara to feel better!

10:03 AM, November 14, 2008  
Anonymous Teek said...

my advice: read the twilight series books. they are great reads. i finished them in .5 minutes back in august.

good luck!

10:44 AM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger Rhi said...

oh my goodness.
i think i'm in shock.
this is such great news.
but i am in shock.

2:43 PM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger Shalay said...

Wow, that is amazing. I have chronic pain in my back due to scoliosis, but I'm sure it's nowhere near the amount that you've endured in the past decade. Good luck with your recovery process, it must feel amazing to finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. Oh, and I second the person that suggested reading the Twilight series. It's a great way to spend time.

2:55 PM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger shaina said...

i'm so happy for you about your bad news! doesn't it feel great to know when there really is a reason for the things we suffer.
know you're being thought of! <3

8:34 PM, November 14, 2008  
Blogger kelli said...

Cara, I'm glad to hear you have some resolution to your pain. It must be very freeing to finally see a light at the end of a very long tunnel.

What if you set up a little cart next to your resting spot with some of your art supplies so you could do your art while still resting. I agree, the twilight series is a fun, easy, addicting read. Also, perhaps journaling would be good too as your go through this process. I have always wanted to rent some of my teenage favorite movies and invite my girl friends over to watch 'em-Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, etc... Have Herb wait on you all hand and foot while calling himself Jake Ryan (Sixteen Candles).

5:38 AM, November 15, 2008  

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