My First Back Injury

My First Back Injury

This was an experience that seemed random and my ego rejected the idea that it needed to happen.  It’s been seven years and the memories still make me cringe.  I am very fortunate that I wasn’t permanently disabled in some way.  At this point I have some scar tissue on my back near the area of injury but I don’t feel the injury is impacting me on a daily basis. It took about three years to heal this injury and it was a long and difficult process.

Some people may not see my perspective on this but after much reflection it’s my belief that this happened because of low self-worth.  I was being extremely casual about attempting a backflip on a trampoline and didn’t commit to getting all the way around.  I was at a trampoline park with family and tossing around the idea of attempting a backflip. I had taken a trampoline class in college believe it or not so I was not a total novice, but I acting like one at the time.  So, I ended up completing half a back flip and landing on top of my shoulders.  My head came next, folding in.  My chin touched my chest as my neck extended past the point of comfort. My torso fell over my face as my toes touched down behind my head.  I heard a loud pop in the midst of this.

This is where things get interesting and a lot of this is difficult to share because of fear of being judged.  I felt alone during much of this process, and was naive about certain things that would have made a difference in my recovery.  I did the best I could and may still find more places where there’s an opportunity to heal around this incident. We just take each day as it comes and instead of pushing away our feelings, when we choose to feel them, we can transform ourselves from the inside out.

So, this was in September 2013 and I was working full time at a call center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  The health insurance plan at this employer was a very expensive addition and I had opted out of it, so at the time I was uninsured. I came to find out later that I probably could have qualified for medicaid benefits through the state, but at the time I didn’t know this.  So, I was in a rather bad place.

I managed to drag myself off the trampoline and I couldn’t get comfortable, no matter how I tried to position myself, I knew that something was seriously wrong. I was driven back to my mom’s house, where I was visiting for a few days (she had just had akilles surgery and I was supposed to be taking care of her) and tried to figure out what to do.  I took some pain medicine that night and the next morning I could hardly get out of bed. This next part is kind of humorous in a way but I actually wish I took this company to court for giving me the wrong information. A couple of months prior to this accident I had begun a chiropractic treatment program that had me getting adjustments about three times a week. They were one of the first resources I contacted when trying to find a solution.  They had a branch in Denver and I went in promptly following the accident and they told me they could determine if I had any broken bones.  The chiropractor used a tuning fork along my spine, and told me if the bone had a break in it that it would make a different type of sound and she would be able to recognize it.  She informed me her tuning fork experiment concluded I didn’t have any broken bones. Being in a place of fear and not having experience with getting injured with out insurance I took her word and didn’t pursue any other diagnosis.  It wasn’t until 2 years later I actually found out it had been a fracture, after an incident with an overzealous physical therapist put me in the emergency room with sciatica.

To make a long story shorter, I fought my way through this with everything I had.  I returned to work after taking 5 days off and for many months I didn’t do much more than go to work, go to the chiropractor, massage therapist and rest in bed. At first, I couldn’t stand up straight, and walked around partially bent over at the waist.  After several months of chiropractic care, I made progress and my posture returned. To this day, I never sought surgery or intrusive treatment for this injury and it’s truly a miracle that I healed as well as I have, and that I’m able to practice yoga, run, cycle, swim and more.  I haven’t seen a chiropractor again, and I still am angry with them for advising me incorrectly on the fracture.  However, they helped me heal from the injury in a natural way and that is always my preference.   Back injuries are tough because there isn’t a solution that someone else can provide for the victim that is an easy fix.

This back injury led me to find many gifted therapists and I sought out many types of treatment over the three years it took me to recover.  Massage therapy, physical therapy, dry needling, acupuncture, personal trainers, etc. For many months I would go to the gym and use the sauna only, sometimes for about an hour. I tried to look at this incredibly painful situation as a growing opportunity which was very challenging to see in that way at times, as I felt incapable of doing things that I was used to doing.  I would lay in bed for hours some days, and then I slowly began to be able to do some stretches I learned from yoga and physical therapy. There was a long time I couldn’t reach my toes with my hands, or sit up in bed from a position of lying on my back.  I had to turn onto my side and scoot myself off the bed.  I kept working at it and I can now reach my entire hand past the top of my feet.

My yoga practice has been an instrumental tool in my life for nearly twenty years and helped me a lot throughout many different situations.  It has been a practice to advance my meditation abilities, to improve my breathing techniques, to heal from injuries, to increase my confidence and more.  My yoga practice served me during this time of recovery by giving me hope that I could heal and using breathing, meditation and physical practice to do so.  At first, I could barely move, I just kept at it and eventually my mobility returned to me.

One of the aspects of this event that was tough to accept was that I had been in the best shape of my life prior to this trauma happening.  I had been working out with a personal trainer, my body fat was around 16%, the chiropractic treatments I was undergoing had me feeling great! I still sometimes feel upset that I suffered such a traumatic injury at the height of my career. At the end of the day though, we only have one choice, to give it another try and this time to be better than we were before.

If you have back pain, please reference the wonderful book Healing back pain: The mind-body connection by Dr. John E. Sarno is a must read for those are willing to consider that there is an emotional connection to physical health.