@chevyvan Thank you! I must say, one positive aspect of this experience has been all the people I know who have come out of the woodwork and shared their own experiences with back injuries. They are surprisingly common, much more so than I would have thought, and as a result I have found myself with a pretty widespread community of support, especially at work, which is great. I hope your parents are doing okay and that you are lucky enough not to inherit any issues!
Thank you so much for this piece, and especially this:
"I remember in the later months of the last episode, I was thinking a lot about hope: whether it’s useful or harmful. I began to think it was a barrier to acceptance, and it was better to let go of hope and go for acceptance. So I did, and it was peaceful in its own way."
I've been dealing with two herniated discs that are pressing on my sciatic nerve badly for six months now, and hope is the thing I have struggled the most with - even though it's ultimately a treatable injury, there's no telling how long it will take to heal, and the trajectory of my experience has been two steps forward, two steps back. Recently, after about two months of steady improvement, both physically and in terms of my outlook, my second epidural steroid injection aggravated the nerve root and the result has been just hellish - there is no position in which I can sit or lie down without the already severe pain becoming excruciating. And the insomnia - I mean, it's not even insomnia, because I am so fucking tired I could sleep for days, but in practice I can only sleep for an hour, maybe two, immediately after my pain medication starts kicking in, and then I get back up and stand there, reading, in the middle of the night until I can take another pill and start the process all over again. I've been feeling like I had so much hope, I was almost there, and then the thing that was supposed to help me get there sent me back to square one.
I've always thought of myself as someone who has a good deal of mental and emotional strength but this has been such a test. I try to focus on all the ways in which I am lucky - I have great insurance, a flexible job that lets me work from home when I can't drive or ride the 45 miles to the office, an extremely supportive boyfriend who has stuck by me even at the lowest moments, friends who would go out of their way to take care of me - but sometimes it's so hard to look on the bright side. But Laura, you're so right, and your words really hit home for me and inspired me to look at the big picture - I might be in pain, but I still have a great, rich life, and there are plenty of little things I can take pleasure in even when everything else is getting me down. So thank you for that.
Also, this is such strange timing, but just after I read this earlier today, I found out from my back specialist that she was finally referring me for a microdiscectomy, so it might really truly be over soon. And like you said, the hope is totally involuntary. It probably won't be a panacea and I'll probably still have a long recovery, but as soon as I got off the phone with my doctor I literally started crying tears of joy because I finally get to have surgery (which is certainly not a reaction I ever thought I'd have, but desperate times...).
So anyway, thank you so much, both Jia and Laura, for this. It gave me so much perspective at a time when I really needed it.
As uncomfortable as it might sound, I actually love my standing desk. I caved in and got one after about three months of suffering through sitting for 10+ hours each day with a herniated disc in my lower back. The key is to get an anti-fatigue mat to stand on - it eliminates most of the stress on your hips and knees that standing on a regular floor would cause. Boy is it ever a conversations starter though...I field questions about my setup at least once a day.
@anachronistique Maybe that's because according to yesterday's dialect maps, no one outside the Northeast even knows what a cruller is? That was one of my primary WTFs while reviewing those maps.
@iceberg If you click through to the full set, that's the first map.
Incidentally I have one ant and two ahnts, because the ant is from Oklahoma and that is how she referred to herself when I was little.
@Ophelia Even that is regional. Where I grew up in NH, any sandwich on a long roll was a grinder, regardless of temperature.
@meetapossum I actually objected to that one on the grounds that if grinder had been presented as an option, large parts of New England would be a different color. No one called them subs until Subway came along!
This definitely hits home.
Relatedly, can I interest anyone in some Backstreet Boys fan fiction circa 1997?
@baked bean Iit's a beautiful name, and I don't think it's trendy. At least I don't know anyone with a baby named Maya either...but then everyone I know with a baby has given him or her a side-eye inducing name, so.
@Laughable Walrus Ahh, that's so exciting! I have never heard of another person who pronounced it that way. In fact we always secretly suspected that her parents had intended it to be pronounced the normal way and she just changed it to be different.