hanging on tight

I had back surgery in February. After almost 2 years of chronic pain I was desperate. During the surgery they found that in addition to the crowding of the nerve by a disc, there was a bone spur that had gone undetected in every MRI I’d had. An actual concrete (well, bone) issue that could help solve the pain.

Because of the amount of time the muscles had been seizing together to deal with the nerve damage and pain, it’s taken a long time to get anywhere near “back to normal”. But relief does come and I finally feel my body beginning to work together again…in a strong way, a calmer way, a back to me way.

As my body went through this exhausting journey,  my mind went on a trip of it’s own. I struggled to find the reason for my pain.  I went through cycles of steroids, cortizone shots, physical therapy and pain killers and nothing helped. Yoga stopped working and running was totally out. I couldn’t just sit or stand to watch a football game or play basketball in the backyard. I had changed insurance plans so was chasing multiple doctors and traveling far and wide. All while keeping my family in order and working. I painted on a joyless smile as I struggled through my every days.

I was off balance, out of whack…off my game for sure. I lost my sparkle…my glow…happiness. It just wasn’t there.

Walking was the only place I’d find relief – at least for a short time. Even laying flat on my back with knees up would start to hurt after a while. I read books, scoured online resources for diagnoses, bought an inversion table (thumbs down) and soaked in epsom salts for hours. My brain was numb. I could think of nothing but getting through the day without making my family as miserable as I felt.

I wish I could say it all magically changed one day. But it didn’t. Relief did not flood upon me and release did not come. But one day I did see a shred of hope. I found someone to listen and I came to realize that this wasn’t going to be happening for the rest of my life. I could fix this. One way or another.

Since the surgery it’s been a slow journey back. I’ve had to readjust my limits. I can’t lift heavy loads or mow the lawn on my trusty pink mower. I try to stay away from raking, shoveling, vacuuming and bending over in general as nerves heal and my body tries to ease back into a semblance of normal.

I stretch constantly. Sometimes exercises from physical therapy, sometimes yoga poses…sometimes i just lay with my legs up and reset. I have to keep my body moving – it’s when its stagnant that it seizes. I stop. I breath and close my eyes to reset my mind – usually multiple times a day. And I look around and calculate the many beautiful things and people in my life and remember I am so blessed. I try to eat well…not an easy task during these holiday days. But I try. And when I eat the tenth peppermint candy stick I make sure to enjoy it to the fullest. I stand under the shower until my hands pucker letting the hot water unknot my neck appreciating that I have this hot water and this big shower and this wonderful life. That I have life at all.

I move my mind into the land of positive thinking, shunning the negative and lighting the dark,  and I find that some days I’m still grasping for balance and some days it comes to me naturally.

While I’m feeling my body gradually loosen its painful grip, my mind is now holding tight to the lessons I’ve learned. A new appreciation for walks with my dogs, hanging out with my sons, sitting with my husband, dancing in the kitchen. I feel like I’ve been given a do over and to that, I’m hanging on forever.



  1. Tineke ouwinga

    Thank you for sharing, Marlies! The main point is that you are much more in control of the pain, not its victim.
    Go girl!


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