As I sat there in the specialists office listening to him rattle off his prognosis and the long list of things I wouldn’t be able to do to any more, I just stared blankly and emotionless at him. Where was my support person? Why didn’t I bring anyone with me to this appointment? As usual I didn’t think to bring anyone. I didn’t want to bother my partner or family and feel like I was putting them out in any way. Besides, I am a tough young independent woman who can handle any situation and surely it wasn’t going to be THAT BAD. Things like this don’t happen to me.
“You will not be able to play any sport, you should avoid doing any heavy lifting or twisting, do not gain any more weight and you should avoid having children – your back won’t be able to handle the additional load and you are at high risk of permanently damaging your spine more..”
It had taken 6 months since the car accident to finally get an accurate diagnosis. I had spent countless sessions with GP’s, monthly visits to the neurologist and I had already started an intense rehabilitation program which consisted of hydro-therapy (these sessions were filled with the elderly in one swim lane, babies in another and me in my blue and white polka dot bikini in the middle lane feeling incredibly out-of-place) and physiotherapy. Not to mention my daily routine of taking pain killers, heat packing my back, stretching/foam rolling and just lying on the floor.
It was in that moment in the specialists’ office that I suddenly realised the life I envisioned of having was suddenly over. I was only 23 – I still had the attitude that the world was my oyster and constantly had my dad’s advice in the back of my mind that I could do and be anything I wanted… and that I had plenty of time to put all my hopes and dreams in motion. Now I was being told I needed to live a life of caution and that things were most likely only going to get worse, not better.
I packed my things and left the office, headed back to the car and then proceeded to bawl my eyes out. I actually don’t think I had ever cried so hard in my life. Will my partner still love me now that I am damaged goods? Will he take care of me and provide me the additional assistance I need? There were so many things running through my mind. I was suddenly not the tough independent woman who can handle any situation. I was now a fragile broken girl who now needed assistance to carry out basic daily tasks. I felt completely out of control of my life.
I spent a solid year being miserable, accepting the diagnosis, being almost vegetable like and responding to friends, family and co-workers saying “I can’t do that” and “I can’t do this”. I was in excruciating pain majority of the time. I considered going part-time at work or even quitting, I felt I wasn’t adding any value and I couldn’t work at the pace I was used to. I would get so frustrated with myself that I would cry and give myself anxiety attacks.
It wasn’t until I started seeing a life coach work offered me that I started to realise I could take back control of my life. That I didn’t have to accept what life had handed to me. All I needed to do was work towards my goals little bit by little bit and day by day and be resonable about what I was expecting. Up until then I had done nothing and complained about not getting any better or making any progress. I played the ‘poor me’ card thinking that is all I could do. No one was coming to save me – sure I had the amazing support from my friends, family and my now husband. But the only person that could really change anything was me.
It was from that moment that I realised I had the control and I had the power to eventually achieve the best outcome I possibly could as long as I did everything I possibly could. I am now 4 years post car accident – I have had 2 spinal surgeries (don’t ask, they were awful) and I have drastically changed my health and lifestyle for the better. I am now the strongest, leanest, lightest and most importantly, happiest I have ever been (even pre-accident). I am not saying it was easy but with the right determination, persistence and consistency you can make remarkable progress to what you have set in your sights. You just have to want it that bad that you are willing to do something about it.
If you aren’t doing everything you can to achieve that goal you set out – why not?