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Living with a new body - Struggling!

Hi, all -

It's been a while since I was on here. A close friend reminded me to check back in with you (the Forum) when I called her tonight in tears, so here I am. 

My fusion surgery (T2-S1) was summer 2017, and after that I had hand surgery and then foot surgery, so I took the whole year off from teaching and focused on recovering. Now I've returned to work, and I'm feeling slammed by the reality of what has happened: I have a completely different body now -- or so it feels to me -- and every single one of my old teaching habits (from 32 years of teaching!) is out the window. A new me has to walk up the three flights of stairs to my office; a new me has to try to write on the board without being able to turn to look at the students; a new me can't distribute handouts without feeling stiff and robotic, physically. It's horrible. Nobody at work (especially administration, but also colleagues) has any idea what is happening with me, so they are pushing me to just pull myself up by my bootstraps and do the same duties and jobs and tasks that I have been doing at this particular school for the last 17 years! I also have bulging discs in my cervical spine and considerable neck issues, so basically everything feels "off." I was an athlete before my fusion, and now I have saddlebags on my legs that look like they were transplanted from some other person. It's bizarre, and scary, and depressing. And I feel very alone with it, as none of my colleagues understands anything about this. I do have friends who are incredibly compassionate, and they listen and comfort me, but they don't really know what it feels like to have my "real" body taken away and an alien body installed in its place. 

HELP! I guess I'm seeking words of wisdom from others who have experienced or are experiencing what I've described above. I realize that I am still grieving the loss of my "real" self (the grief comes in waves, and maybe it never ends...?), but that realization is only mildly helpful. I'm starting therapy again tomorrow, so that's good. But is there anyone out there who feels like their body ISN'T their body???


 


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Comments

  • New Body.

    Years ago(19) i was strength training and road bike riding 60 to 70 miles a week.

    Historically i was more atjletic then not...1350lb leg press, had push only 350 on bench as geneticaly i was not blessed with much push power..but buddy...could i pull 850ld of a rack like nobodys business.

    All numbers didnt matter after an underage drunkard girl ran a red light and hit my door at 65 mph.

    Doc who was my guide into infirmity told me that i was blessed to have had the musculature i did because it took all and was wrecked because of the severity.

    My bones in my neck should have shattered

    My rib cage did its job and took the impact well as could be because my muscles shredded,facia tore etc.

    In a moment..all years work..gone.

    Fast Forward to today and looking back i really should have not pushed so hard.That is my personal lesson.

    My old body was gone..I abused my new body for years and now am paying heck for it.

    My youthfull immortality? Lol..i burned that candle down ..but didnt learn.

    Now getting up from things is an umsmilely face affair.

    My old knee which i used up after 35 years or so is well..old and worn out..

    John...was his user name from years back on the forum said.."Be kind to yourself"

    Also? pain is inevitable...suffering is optional.

    It took a while..but i viscerally chose to not suffer. I decided between the two phenomenon. I"ll take the pain

    I stopped the internal dialog, the catastrophisation and severed the mental connection between pain..and "suffering"

    I stopped pleasing everyone and am in the game only-selfishly for myself.only,i am going to live in this body till the end.only i have any right to use and abuse it.

    I left it all out in the field. No regrets,no worries if i could have done a little more.

    I walked off that field head high and have not looked back.

    You love what you do. So if you slow down..to keep doing what you love longer? is part of the game.

    "The Game" ultimately is your quality of life and health after your done.

    Do your students know your suffering and how much the "cost of living" is taking from you..I am pretty sure they do .one day, they will have you as the gold standard of how to cope with pain and suffering with grace and dignity

    Your not alone in this. Learning to Cope is a aquired skill.

    You didnt know how to walk..untill one day you did.

    You didnt run..untill you did.

    Everything is learned or instinct and happens in order 

    Adaptation happens if you let it.

    You learn to walk again.

    Grief is in the natural order of things, there is no shame nor stigma attatched. In its proper time..place and sequence the adoption of new order happens.

    Grieve..it is proper and right to do because you did lose something. But in time peace settles in place.

    You can fight all you want against the inevitable..you get what you fight for

    Peace or bitterness.

    The Liminal point..the polar moment when you simply move on is a process...if you move forward with a definite idea of what you want emotionally and mentally...a positive ideation, you can get that result.

    What do you see yourself wanting for your future self inside.

    The ideas are not set in stone. We are in these broken bodies..but our mind and spirits can be free of the bounds that chain us.

    You can move on if you want to bad enough.

    Hang in there coz your not alone



    William Garza
    Spine-Health Mod
    erator

    Welcome to Spine-Health

  • @William Garza you're amazing 


    @MorningGirl  I can't say I really know how you feel because of course I don't.  But...  I know a little

    I'm 32, and last year I returned to my home city, which I loved.  It was the city where I grew up and truly became independent.  I loved it, loved exploring it, and loved the people I found in it.  But when I came back this time, I felt like I didn't have a place in this city anymore.  While I was gone, I had a devastating surgery that led to severe right leg weakness (I have to walk with a leg brace, and I can't run or walk fast anymore, I have a limp...) and yeah my spine is fused but I still have a bend that's progressing at a right angle at the bottom of my current hardware, so my torso is shaped horribly and I wear only very loose clothes to hide it.  Now, I can't walk around my city anymore.  I can't easily make it to a coffee shop to meet friends, I'm in pain while I sit with them.  I used to skip over the rocks in the river and swim against it's strong current, but now I sit on the shore and watch.  I used to stumble around tipsy late at night, now I stumble around in pure daylight when I'm sober just because of my bad leg.  (haha).  It's not my city anymore....  but I still live here.  I have a new life here.  I am finding a new community.  I am learning how to dip my toes into the river.  I found a way to pace myself so I can reach the coffee shop.  My friends walk slowly beside me and catch me when I fall.  (they really do).  

    I hope...  I hope that you will find these small changes in your old world, bringing you a new world where you can be comfortable, too 

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  • Its a process

    Learning to "walk" again..figuring out the new boundries and limitations

    But like all things, that too will end and a new period will begin..and thats where where Hope lives.

    Keep your eyes on the prize

    Learn to focus again on new horizons, new dawns

    Happiness isnt a destination, sometimes its a state of mind.

    Make up your mind to be not unhappy..find the center and go for it.

    If other people see coal? we see diamonds

    William Garza
    Spine-Health Mod
    erator

    Welcome to Spine-Health

  • @william Garza,

    Thank you for that post.  I'm 5 weeks L5-S1 fusion and completely bummed.  Not only am I dealing with life after surgery, but I am trying to work with the ex-wife about Temporary child support modification.  She doesn't care that I've been out of work for 5 months.  She just wants the child support payments to continue.  We have 50/50 custody and I pay out the ass with child support.  My family is helping me get by with my kids.  Thank God! I feel like my back is against the wall.  

    @William Garza, your words help me alot.  Thank you.

    Vegas

  • Morning girl, Welcome to the start of a new fresh journey! Yes, you have hundreds of friends who know what it’s like to be in a new body!  One we really don’t know anymore. We can vaguely remember the days of our youth where we could run and play all day and never knew the definition of tired or worn out. Do you remember the very first day you taught a class? Young, eager, ready to fill young minds with so much education? We all remember the eagerness of our first day of our careers! Then reality sets in! We look in a mirror and do not recognize the person looking back. And we ask where is that other person who used to be here? Morning girl, that person is still there and one day will reappear! Give it time and get used to the new you! I always like the analogy “ Don’t look in the rear view mirror, look through the windshield as that’s where your future is! We all go through the stage your in! It’s part of the recovery phase and one day you’ll accept the new you! You’ll learn how to do things in a way that’s easier on your body. But as I’ve said before, you have hundreds of new friends who can completely understand.....David

    DavidG

    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

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  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 6,473

    Vegas

    William has great poems and inspirational writings all over the forum. It may not be what you need right now but if you get down, look at some of them. They have helped me so much and always at the right time.

    Sandra
    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator
    ---------------------------------------------------------------
    Please read my  Medical History
  • Vegas

    It seems were given a full plate..an then a few more servings on top of it.

    I am full!

    Plate..i am empty,put more on!!!

    But..I am full....

    Serving more onto plate..here yah go hun...have some more...

    But..I am full.

    Looking down at your plate,you can move the stuff around in pleasing forms..but in the end,you still have to clean the plate.

    One item at a time..I usually start with the least pleasant and work my way down. Then on to the next one slowly...because we cant stop the plate from being filled..but we can control WHEN it is refilled.

    We have that control.we always have that control in spite of the seeming dissonance,discord and despair 

    Again

    We cannot always control the serving size, or portion...by we can control the rate.

    One breath...one minute..one hour one day at a time.

    William Garza
    Spine-Health Mod
    erator

    Welcome to Spine-Health

  • Morning Girl

    Your giving your students nd your close ones the most important lessons in humanity.

    These are pass or fail lessons.those that come to understand come to be extraordinary people who have learned empathy,sympathy...and how to approach life with courage.

    They see you at your worst..and at your best and they will strive to reach your examples heights. You have become an object lesson..a living Socratic Method 

    Be gentle with yourself..you are giving much, and there is still much more to give in you.

    William Garza
    Spine-Health Mod
    erator

    Welcome to Spine-Health

  • @William Garza 

    Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.  That's such a helpful idea to bear in mind!

    Kevin

  • John was a member here and i hope he and his are as well as can be.

    Pain is inevitable..what we do when it is heavy on our shoulders,hearts and minds can define the hour...the day and our lives forward.

    Impressions set as judge on our future decisions on how we handle  this geiss.

    Its important as a world wide family i think to guide those behind- new to pain- toward a balanced outlook

    We need all our worldwide Spiney family to add to the communal wisdom so that those who are lost inside their heads and their hearts ont toward a new perspective.

    How the individual handles something sometimes depends on a communities common perspectives

    How we handle pain can shape how we handle the mental and emotional sde of things.

    Mind-heart-spirit in balance



    William Garza
    Spine-Health Mod
    erator

    Welcome to Spine-Health

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