On March 3, 2006, I was a 19-year-old college freshman playing beach volleyball in Florida on spring break. It was a tish windy but we wanted to get in one final game before we packed up to make the long drive back to Indiana. My partner set me and I jumped to hit. The wind moved the ball in the air and I tried to move with it. I felt my back snap. I was in too much shock to cry.
After we got back to Indiana, I checked in with the trainer at school. She said to ice and keep playing because it was just a pulled muscle. I knew something else was wrong because I wasn’t healing. A few weeks later I lined up with the rest of the injured student athletes to see the sports medicine doctor who worked with the college. The trainer pointed at me and said I didn’t need to see him and to just keep playing.
Once I got home for the summer, my parents took me in for imaging.
A few months later I heard a new diagnosis: Anxiety.
A few months after that: Depression.
I honestly don’t know if I’ve even found forgiveness in my heart for that trainer. As soon as another trainer said that all she needed to do was check for leg weakness to find out it wasn’t muscular I felt my heart grow hard. I played volleyball for six weeks with debilitating pain and was told it wasn’t a big deal.
The physical trauma of injuring my back now makes me panic anytime I do physical activity. I re-injured my back in 2012, 2016, and 2019. I tried to kill myself because I wanted the pain to stop in 2012. I changed primary care physicians when I was told I needed to be more active in 2016. I quit my job in 2019. I struggle finding the motivation to clean our home or run errands because I’m so scared of making the pain worse.
I’ve never “celebrated” this anniversary before. But I’ve found healing in writing over the past year so I wanted to put it all out there.
This back injury was the turning point of my life. I’ve grieved so much for who I could have been if I hadn’t gotten hurt. I’ve yelled at and questioned God for allowing this to happen. But I’m reminded daily that I’m here “for such a time as this” to be an advocate and encouragement for others who are suffering with chronic illness.