I’ve Been Here Before


My body has been holding stable for weeks, perhaps even months. Of course I still have pain, and my limitations remain significant. But my pelvis is holding in place, and I can tell.

When I go into physical therapy, she no longer spends the whole session adjusting my body back into place. Finally, finally, finally my body doesn’t completely go out in-between sessions. We can finally focus more on nerve releases and gaining strength and improving my flexibility.

It used to be that she would adjust me, and before I even left the session, my body would already be falling apart. For the first year, I wondered why I even continued to go to physical therapy. Was it even helping?

Then for awhile I would have a few days of relief before my body was screaming to go back for an adjustment.

After that, I could manage, with great difficulty, a week between sessions.

Then it became ten days.

And now I go two weeks between appointments.

This is a process that has been four years in the making. I am so thankful for where I am, but I also know that I have been here before, and in some ways it is a dangerous place to be.

This is the place where relapses have always happened in the past. When my body feels stronger, and I begin to have the courage to push further and longer. When I start accepting more invitations, perhaps feeling pushed to schedule more than one thing in a given day.

This is when I start to take risks, and when the line that exists between progress and relapse becomes quite fuzzy. If I don’t push enough, I won’t make progress. But if I push too far all progress will be lost. I don’t know where the line is, so I often hover far back, fearful of the possible consequences.

For me, a relapse means that one day I walk a step too far and unexpectedly fall off of a deep and dark cliff. It means that I tumble down, down, down, not knowing when I will hit the bottom. It means looking up in fear as I fall, seeing the light fade, and knowing I will not see that place again for a long time.

Relapse means months into years of increased pain, forced to live in bare minimum mode. It means I can only manage the basic necessities of life for months on end. It means each and every day, I must wake up and try to climb out of this deep abyss.

I’ve been here before – this place of greater stability and decreased pain. I am so thankful to be here, but there is a fearful quality about this place. I fear what people will think when I say I am doing better, but not adding much to my schedule.

I fear walking one step too far.

I fear going back to places of nightmares and darkness. I fear losing hold of this better quality of life. I fear losing the laughter and the happiness. I fear going back to that places where my personality, who I am, is so dampened by pain and limitation.

I don’t want to live my life in fear, but I am willing to do just about anything to not go back to that place. I don’t want my days to be darkened by uncertainty and hesitancies. I don’t want to always hold myself back. But the truth is that I feel like I have no other option that to only take one step forward every so often, knowing that the line is many steps away.

I’m just not ready to toe the line. I’m not sure I ever will be.

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  1. I’m going through this right now, too… Although I’m also experiencing random relapses, but overall, feeling a bit better than before. Thanks for putting this in words. From one chronic pain warrior to another, keep trusting in God! You’re an overcomer…remember that! <3

    1. Thanks Laina for your thoughts! I still experience flare ups of pain as well – but usually only for a week or two, and nothing like the worst relapses I have experienced. I think I reserve the word “relapse” for those worst times when it took me so long to recover. Just as a clarification of my terminology 🙂

      Thanks so much for your encouragement. I am glad you are in a slightly better place as well, and hope it stays that way for you!

  2. It is so encouraging to hear of your progress! May I ask do you wear a gadget that tells you how many steps you’ve taken today in total or how many hours you have slept? I wear one on my wrist that tells me these details. This was an experiment, just for one year. The end of this month, will be the end of the experiment. Would you Believe even though I long to take it off to wear a normal watch, I am concerned that I can’t tell how many steps I’ve taken in my day without wearing it and then take a few too many and cause the flareup or not enough and become deconditioned. Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts. With love and hugs.

    1. Thanks Nancy! I have considered wearing a device such as that. The ones I have looked at are a bit pricey, so I am considering it for my birthday. I think it would be really handy in building up my steps slowly without causes flares or relapse. Thanks for the idea! It sounds like it has been somewhat helpful for you. I’m so glad to hear that!

  3. So glad to hear that you are in this phase, but I know the fears you write about all too well. I went outside and pulled a couple weeds this morning…haven’t done that in years! But afterwards, I had major anxiety, wondering if it will trigger a flare up. So far, it seems that I am okay. Unbelievable! I have learned, as you have, to try new things in baby steps. It feels like such a ridiculous way to live, but this is our reality now. Praying you will be able to overcome the fear and handle whatever comes your way.

    1. Wow, good for you that you were able to pull weeds. That is a huge accomplishment after not being able to of so long!

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