Sunday, 2 January 2011

Hopefully Happy New Year

2011. A New Year, New Decade even. New start, new opportunities, hopefully a new job. None of us know what's around the corner but I sure am pleased it is this time this year and not this time last year. I think.

Why only think?

Last year I was facing spinal surgery. At this time last year I wasn't sure I would have it as the surgeon I had been seeing was reluctant to operate on such a stiff curve in such a "mature" patient. Fast forward 12 months and I've been in theatre five hours, in hospital two weeks, in bed best part of four months and off work for seven.

So of course I must be pleased it's now and not then? Why not be?

The thing is - and it's hard to say this for fear of coming across as negative or ungrateful - I am not sure that given the choice again, knowing what I do now, I would go ahead. Yes, I know that my scoliosis was getting worse, I know it was starting to squash my lungs, would have squashed my other vital organs, probably would have meant a wheelchair and probably a reduced life expectancy.

But had I not opted for surgery I might have had a few more years of what I can only describe as freedom. Not from pain - that was there in bucketfuls even before the operation. But it was a pain that I recognised, that I knew, that I had grown up with and could cope with. It didn't stop me living my life. I worked hard, played hard, dressed to disguise the "deformity" and for the most part forgot about it - even if it sometimes took a glass or three of red wine to get to that stage!

Now "my back" dominates my every waking moment. (And much of the time when I would prefer to be asleep.)) It's not easy to get comfy or to sleep, on waking I reach for painkillers, getting dressed is a mission, and throughout the day, every single moment of it, I am conscious of a sore, aching, dragging, pulling, itching pain.

At some point during my "recovery" period I had what I guess used to be called a "nervous breakdown". Nowadays it's generally referred to as post traumatic stress disorder. I don't want to go into the details here - it's a new year and I'd rather be looking onwards and upwards.

However, the impact and repercussions of this "episode" have been profound and long lasting. Sure I had counselling and some low dose ADs, but there remains a lingering feeling of disengagement which feels impossible to put into words.

Crowds - be it the nightmare of the Jubilee Line in the rush hour, or a rather more pleasant social situation - are especially difficult to cope with. Always there is this feeling of detachment, of being "apart", a sense that no one "gets" what you have been through.

And no matter how much you tell yourself that others have been through far worse, or that it really doesn't matter whether others understand or not, that the thing to do is pull yourself together and get on with life, still the tears come - at the drop of the proverbial hat or more likely a thoughtless phrase. Thoughtless in the sense that no thought has been given to how you may be affected, not in a cruel or unkind sense.

And so at the start of this new year, new decade, I am seriously unable to say that I am pleased to have had this surgery. I hope one day I may be. For now I am taking a day at a time. I have put myself back onto a course of amitryptiline which can help the pain, enable sleep, and lift your mood. Let's see how that goes.

I thank you all for your support over the past year and wish you every happiness and blessing for 2011. More soon...


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