In denial

It was the beginning of 2009 and apart from having established a good routine for myself in terms of exercise and work habits, I had stepped up the intensity of my exercise somewhat in an earnest attempt to lose some weight in preparation for the holidays. I would alternate daily between Hatha yoga and running on the treadmill and it was going well until I was doing yoga one day and went into Bow pose. For those not entirely familiar with yoga, this pose is when you lie on your stomach and, holding your feet with your hands, you slowly and gently push your feet away from you. This provides the action of enabling the muscles of the spine and lifts both ends of your body off the floor, creating a bow like action. It is a strong pose that takes a lot of practice and strength. Lets just say that on this particular occasion I went into bow pose and had some trouble coming out of it. To put it bluntly, I pinched a nerve in my lower back. That in itself sounds benign enough but it was excruciatingly painful. To make matters worse, not long before that I had taken two falls off the horse and herniated a disk. This was where I’d pinched the nerve and where my pain was radiating from. Luckily my mobile phone wasn’t far away. Lowering my body very, very slowly I eventually got my legs to the floor again and in short,  leopard crawled over to my phone where I made two phone calls. One to my friend asking her to collect the girls from school for me and the other to my husband, pleading with him in tears to come home and help me.

That was me flat on my back in agony for a week, my days consisting of warm packs, Radian massage gel and copious amounts of painkillers. About two weeks later however, I had fully recovered and was back into my exercise routine again, this time without Bow pose in the mix. This was when the pain slowly but surely started to creep up on me over the weeks and months. By May, I had to stop exercising altogether. The pain in my lower back and hips had become crushing. I had pushed my body too hard and was paying the price for it dearly, having to bum walk down the stairs just to get the car keys to go and fetch the girls from school. I was literally crawling around the house, the family looking on with great concern.

I was not concerned about my growing pain. It never once crossed my mind that it could be something sinister because of the simple fact that I was still seeing my physician every 6 months, who was examining me and conducting tumor marker blood tests. These are tests that measure your white blood cell activity and if your white blood cell count spikes, then it is an indication of some sort of infection or if you’re a cancer patient, unfortunately something potentially a lot more serious than that. My white blood cell count results were consistently normal indicating on the face of things that all was fine, so what did I have to worry about? I put it down to pushing myself too hard and I started taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement while I was at it. It wasn’t long after that and we were off on holiday. We were so relieved to be escaping the summer heat to cooler climes and the excitement was palpable.

Holiday pic

On holiday in South Africa in 2009

I spent the entire holiday hobbling around, wrapped up in the warmest blanket I could get my hands on while warm packs and painkillers were my staple diet. I was miserable and couldn’t participate in many of the activities that my family and extended members were enjoying so much. I kept on wondering what was causing me so much pain the whole time. The really troubling thing was that there was no logical explanation for any of it. Looking at everybody running around like agile fleas and having great fun, I knew that the right thing to do would be to make an appointment with the doctor when I got back home to get to the bottom of it all. I think I knew even then that I wasn’t going to like what I would hear, but it looked like I didn’t have much of a choice anymore. I tried to forget about if for the rest of the holiday, determined to enjoy what was left of it as much as I could under the circumstances. I would deal with the problem when I got back home again.

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