Maybe it’s the high pain tolerance after five natural births, or perhaps it’s just motherhood.
Maybe it’s the ability to push through discomfort, or perhaps it’s just the craziness of motherhood.
Maybe it’s the inability to put myself first, or perhaps it’s what mothers do – putting everyone else first.
Maybe it’s just me, and my anxiety and fears of something really being wrong…
But I know that I am not alone. For some reason, mothers tend to ignore pain, symptoms, and warning signs that their own bodies send them. It becomes overwhelming when it all is listed out:
- Wrist pain after that 3rd baby that never really went away.
- Hip pain after that half-marathon training that still hasn’t healed a year later.
- Pelvic floor issues.
- Hemorrhoids that seem to come and go at the most random times.
- The back pain. Oh, the back pain.
During my recent trip to Denver with John, I was unable to hide my chronic back pain any longer. There were no children to distract me from it. There were no children to distract John from my suffering. It was four days of reality: face-to-face with my pain. John saw the way I lay on floor with my legs on the bed for hours at night. He saw me holding on to walls and stopping every 15-20 steps due to the pain when I walk. He saw me try to fake it. He also finally made me do something about it.
I was an athlete my entire youth into my early adulthood. I was a ballerina and a martial artist, competing in the ring all over the country. I trained seven days a week most of the time and lived a body-stressing life. I also loved it. But it took it’s toll on my back. In my early 20’s, my back began to hurt. I was informed that it would one day need surgery, but to have kids and avoid the operation as long as possible.
Here I am, five kids and over 12 years later. I have done the therapy. I have done the acupuncture. I have been adjusted regularly for a decade. I have eaten well and exercised daily. I have run marathons and washed approximately 1,000,000 loads of laundry. I have birthed babies, worn babies, and breastfed babies. I have hiked mountains and carried groceries.
I have also silently cried while walking the dog. I have had to sit instead of play. I have had to miss events due to pain.
In 2019, I began teaching a few martial arts classes. I only sparred a few times. But something happened to me. My back went into shock. The pain grew more intense and impacted me in a way that I cannot even begin to explain. I was unable to do any of the things that I loved in a way that didn’t hurt. I kept pushing through and trying though…
After an MRI, x-rays, and several opinions, I have answers.
2020 will be the year to heal myself. I have a bilateral fracture in my vertebrae. It is a mobile disc at a grade 2-3 spondylolisthesis, which means that no matter what position I am in (walking, sitting, laying, stretching, etc) it causes pain. I have numbness and pain from my butt to my toes in both legs throughout 90% of every day. My back feels tight and as if I constantly need to ‘pop’ it. But the leg pain…
The nerves are so severely pinched that doctors looked at me and asked how I have managed to run at all – let alone lift a laundry basket.
My answer: MOTHERHOOD.
My youngest is almost 2.5 years old now. My oldest is close to 10.5 years old. I am finally seeing things clearer and hearing the cries of my body. It is my time. 2020 will be hard, as spinal surgery isn’t an easy feat, and the recovery is going to take help from family and friends, but it will be the start of a happier life. I’ve been told that I can start running (slowly) again about 3 months after the surgery. They are predicting the nerves will take closer to a year or more to fully recover, though.
Here is my cry to you:
Start hearing your body. Stop putting yourself dead last. I have been terrified to pursue this because of my fears of surgery. But the truth is this: if I had listened when things got worse last year, I would have already been on the other side and healing by now. Instead, I am at a place of waiting – waiting to fit into the best surgeon’s schedule, waiting for the right month so family and friends can help with recovery, waiting on all of the uncontrollable things.
As mothers we automatically do all of the things for everyone; most of the time, we may do this to avoid doing things for ourselves. Take the time to evaluate yourself both physically and mentally this year.