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The Skinny On Me Week 11: My Neck, My Back…My Neck & My Back

By Amber 20
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Good morning, y’all!

I had every intention of recapping my b-day week for today’s Skinny On Me post, but my phone has completely zonked out on me. I can’t access any of the pictures I took, so I’ll have to tell y’all all about it once I get it up and running again.

The past few days have been an incredibly painful reminder that I am not as healthy as I once was. It is hurricane season here in Charleston and the weather has been icky and wet causing my body to seize up and mimic the frame of an 85 year old woman’s rather than that of a strapping young woman of the age of 20 + 11.

*que the violins*

 A few years ago, my back zonked out on me exactly as my phone has done…and I haven’t been the same since.

If you’ve been around for Sassy Hour (which you should BTW…I mean, it’s all about booze) then you know that I used to be a bartender. It was during those days that I injured my back and had to completely change the course of my life.

The bar where the injury occurred is a very, very busy place. During the summer, it is jam packed…packed so tightly it is almost as if it’s a holding cell for the cattle like tourists in knee socks and tevas. People are *everywhere* mooing and stomping their feet around as they wait for their tables. Some of them would even bellow out their drink orders to anyone who even resembled an employee of the restaurant, expecting to be served right then and there.

The set-up of this restaurant was (and still is from what I hear) flat-out idiotic. In order to get behind the bar, we actually had to bend underneath a glass rack and inch our way through the little entryway. There was no section of the bar that lifted up or was cut out entirely which would have given us easy access to it.

One crazy busy summer night back in 2007, I had to get behind the bar, and I bent underneath the glass rack as I had been doing for the past year. When I stood up I felt a “POP!” and an instantaneous sizzling pain that flooded the middle of my lower back, spread to both sides, and then traveled down to my toes. It was one of the most painful things I had ever felt, and I was shocked by what had just happened. I froze, unsure of exactly what I should do. The pain eased for a second, I moved, then I was overcome by the excruciating electricity again. One of my co-workers told me she saw my face when it happened, and she said that my face literally turned green.

It came on so abruptly, I thought I was passing a kidney stone or something. I immediately excused myself from behind the bar, and I went and sat in the manager’s office to try to gather myself together. The pain was incredibly intense and continued to come in waves. Within 30 minutes I couldn’t walk, and my dad had to come and pick me up and literally carry me out of the restaurant.

Why didn’t I call EMS or go to the hospital, you ask?

I didn’t have health insurance.

Because it was a Saturday night, I had to wait until the following Monday to go to the Dr. After I explained my symptoms he immediately ordered an MRI, and when the results came in I was flabbergasted.

I had a herniated disc at the L4/L5 lumbar region of my spine which was pressing against the nerves of my spinal cord and hitting my sciatic nerve.

*Holy Shiz*

And Shiz as in cow shiz…not the the school from Wicked.

He told me that these injuries varied significantly from person to person, and that it could easily repair itself or I may end up needing surgery. He also said one thing I will *never* forget… “Once you hurt your back, your back will always be hurt”.

And he was right.

Two years and countless physical therapy sessions later, I found myself screaming on the toilet at a completely new (and sedentary) job surrounded by my coworkers and EMS personnel because my injury had flared up and the pain in my back had reached (on a scale of 1-10) a 25.

This time I was put in the hospital on a dilaudid pump for 3 days.

The meds didn’t even *touch* the pain. They just made me forget what was going on.

Another MRI, 6 months, and 3 failed epidural steroid injections later and my Dr. says the phrase I had been dreading for 3 years:

“Surgery is our only option here”…and…”even then you will probably only recover by 80%”.

Wham…there it was…ouch.

On November 9, 2010 I underwent an anterior lumbar interbody disc fusion. It was no small feat, and the recovery process was long and dreadful. I was only supposed to be out of work for 3 months.

I was out for 8…and was only released back to work on a part-time basis.

And to this day I am still only able to work part-time.

Because the surgery didn’t work.

And I am in nearly constant pain. It hurts to sit for too long, it hurts to stand for too long, it hurts to cook for too long, it hurts to lay down too long.

*Whoa Is Me*

And you wanna know what else? I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Here’s an excerpt from my old blog Where’s Weasley that was written while I was in recovery…

“Back surgery has been a trying time for me, but it has also been a blessing in disguise. For starters, it has given me time to write and to work on my creative muse. I really love sitting down at my computer and siphoning my soul into it. It is liberating. Also, it has given my parents a chance to really get to know Will and to understand why I love him so much. When Will and I first started talking about getting married I don’t think my mom was too enthused, and when the ring was actually on my finger and she realized the reality, I’m pretty sure she was heartsick.

I know this because her reaction was not at all how I imagined it to be. She acted as if she was thrilled, but I know my mother and she was anything but. When I asked her about it she stated that she couldn’t be as happy as she wanted to be because she didn’t really know the man I was marrying. She didn’t have a connection with him, so she had her reservations. After thinking about it, I completely understood. Will isn’t the most direct person and even as his future wife I have to pin him down to the ground, slice open his chest, and extract his feelings one by one. It’s exhausting for me so I can only imagine what was going through her mind when he would come over to family dinners and barely say a word. He was a mystery to her. Hell, he’s still a mystery to me. 

Since my surgery Will has been right by my side: from sleeping on an uncomfortable recliner in my hospital room to going out of his way to pick up my medication.  As I recover, he has come home from work, eaten dinner with us, snuggled in the family room with us, spent the night in the guest room, and woken up to help my mom clean the house in the morning.  He has shown my parents his true character and helped them realize why I love him and why I intend to spend the rest of my life with him. My mom said to me a few weeks ago, “You know, I really believe the reason you got hurt and the reason you had to have surgery was because God wanted to give us the time we needed to learn about Will. If you weren’t here, he wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t have gotten the chance to love him like we do. He is such a great guy and fits right in with the family, and I am so happy that you are marrying him”.

If you’re actually still reading this novel I’d like to also add that if it wasn’t for my back injury, I’m not sure if I would’ve ever started this blog either. In fact, I have no idea how I would’ve found time to do this if I was working a full-time job. Blogging is a lot of work!!!

So, aren’t you glad I hurt my back now too? 😉

Getting to know you…

Do you have an irreparable injury?

What do you do for work?

Ever worked in F & B? 

Love y'all!

What do you think?

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  • Jan
    June 26, 2012

    While I hate that you have to suffer like this, I appreciate your blog post. I finally now understand your torrents of pain that you describe on Facebook. How unfair! I love that you’ve found the silver lining on the whole situation though- shows how strong you are. A real steel magnolia!

    • amber
      June 26, 2012

      Oh my gosh, you didn’t know?!? Ha! I can only imagine what you were thinking when you read my status updates!

  • Mia
    June 27, 2012

    I’m not sure I’d say I’m glad you hurt your back, but I am glad that its worked out at least as well as can be expected – and I’m glad you and your family are happy.

    I’m a medical student (and graduate student. and apparent masochist.), so I definitely enjoyed reading this post.

    I’m fairly new to your blog. Now that you don’t bartend, what do you do for a living? Do you have health insurance? (Sorry for being all up in your biz)

    • amber
      June 27, 2012

      Thanks, Mia! Having a bad back definitely sucks, but like I said it was totally worth it in the long run. I work part-time at a local publishing house doing marketing and book fulfillment, etc. As for health insurance, I definitely have it thanks to the hubs and his full-time job!

  • Ah that’s brutal – my dad had a herniated disc one summer and I remember he could only stand or lie down but sitting was excruciating. He was a total character, always got people laughing, and I remember we went for dinner at my parents’ friends’ house and as we drove away saying goodbye he was on all fours in the back seat, as that was the only comfortable position, and waved from that position. Those friends still tell that story every time we get together, sooo funny.

    I’m glad that it changed the course of your life for the better though – not many people can say that about injuries!

  • Shell
    June 30, 2012

    Reading this gave my that tickling feeling behind my nose, you know, the one where you’re about to cry? I was very touched by this post. Every single time I read one of your posts, I giggle out loud at least once. I can tell that you have a beautiful, shining personality! And the fact that you’ve maintained that through such unfortunate events is very inspiring.

    Pretty much, I just want to give you a big hug!

    Right now I’m a university student so I’ve been working various jobs but yes I have worked F & B. I worked at Tim Hortons in high school and actually miss it (I worked with some awesome people!). I was, and still am, proud of the rate at which I could make coffees with a smile 🙂

    I’ve looked into bar tending.. any advice? 😉

    • amber
      July 1, 2012

      Awww, thanx! That’s so sweet 🙂 I try to look on the bright side of things b/c if I didn’t I’d be a very unhappy person! Advice about bartending…definitely do it if you are given the chance. It really was incredibly rewarding both b/c of the people you meet and because of the money you make! It wasn’t unheard of for me to make several hundred dollars on a busy shift…if I worked doubles on a busy day it was closer to $1K!