I think most of us spend our lives defining ourselves...
At least I do. And I don't like my definition.
If you follow me on Facebook or read my blog, you probably know I had back surgery last October. Spine-straightening surgery, to be specific. I was diagnosed with scoliosis when I was fourteen-years old and thankfully, for most of my life, I had few problems due to the condition. An occasional tight muscle or back spasm, but nothing to keep me from living my life. That changed in March of 2015. Suddenly, I was in pain all of the time. I'd take a day to rest, thinking I'd over-stressed my back, but the pain was still there. I saw a chiropractor and while the adjustments helped for a few weeks, eventually the pain grew worse. He referred me to an orthopaedic surgeon who took one look at my X-ray and referred me to a spine specialist. My scoliosis had curved and twisted to the point that I could no longer stand upright or walk without a limp. And the pain was non-stop and debilitating. My life, as I knew it, came to a screeching halt!
Even the simplest of tasks were beyond me. Washing dishes, doing laundry, taking care of my dogs. I was off of work more than I was on. And the pain was affecting my memory and my personality. I was miserable. So when the surgeon told me there was hope, in the form of a back fusion, I jumped at the chance. Well, not literally, since I had enough trouble standing, but I was all for it. Sign me up! Even after learning the risks involved with surgery and that my back would never be 100% (the surgeon estimated 70%), I was actually excited to go under the knife!
Fast-forward to today, six-and-a-half months post surgery. I'm doing so much better than I was this time last year. God's honest truth.
I'm not as good as I'd like to be. Most days, I'd say my back was at 85%. 15% higher than what the surgeon predicted. Not too shabby. Except for the new pain I'm in. Every day. Every night. Pain that allows me to live my life in short bursts at a time. I'm trying to chalk it up to the healing process. That each day is a bit better than the last. In some ways, it is. In others, well... let's just say if this is as good as it gets, I have some adjusting to do. And that's okay. It'll have to be. At least I can function.
What does all of this have to do with my definition of myself? I know you're wondering. Well, it's like this. I don't want to be the person with 'back problems'. And that's the label I've stuck on my forehead. I hear myself saying it aloud, using the phrase to explain why I'm not able to attend a function, or why I'm limping, or why I feel like crap. Oh, it's not an excuse. My back issues are the precise explanation for all of those things. But I don't want them to be. I don't want to feel like an old woman, tottering around, one hand on my back, moaning and groaning. I'm not that person!! (Only, I am. At least for right now. But I don't like it!) I do not want to be defined by my incapacity. Because it's becoming much to easy to live up to that definition.
So, I'm changing my definition. No longer am I going to be the person with back issues. Especially if I'm the only one saying it. Yes, I have to adjust my life to my new back. No, I can no longer accomplish some activities the way I did two years ago. Yes, I am so happy I had the surgery. No, I am not going to settle for this self-restriction I've attached to my being.
I am healing. I am different than I was. My body is different than it was. I am a new person. I am not going to settle!
I am redefining my life. <3