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my back injury

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.

Stress fractures.
Herniated disc.
Torn ligament.
Osteoarthritis.

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.

4 thoughts on “my back injury”

  1. You are strong and able and I’m so proud of who you are… being an advocate for chronic illness is something I know you never imagined, but I love seeing you use your pain for good. Love you always girl.

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  2. Yes you are an example to me. Mine was a year ago at end of this month. Simply getting out of a new lift recliner chair my hubby had bought me. Been in bed since. No laundry, no dishes, no cooking, no cleaning, Nothing.
    I have had epidural steroid injections also, may need another. They hurt like heck.
    I have fallen 4 times since 12/18. Afraid to leave home as my last fall was 12/20 coming in the front door. Had to call paramedics to pick me up. I understand you. Others don’t understand us. I have depression also.
    Lots of love, Collette.

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  3. The story of how you got to this point is what makes you the amazing person today. As you said, you want to encourage others and be an advocate. Always keep fighting for better mental and health overall. Thank you for sharing this piece with the world. Often, the psyhical paln we endure can lead to depression. I am sorry that you went to that dark place in 2012, but I am happy to hear that you are still here!

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  4. There’s something to be said for the amount of transparency you offer to the world, and to the internet at that. We’re at this weird cultural transition between embracing self care, validating mental illness, and still expecting people to stuff it all down and act normal. There’s still a very visible demographic that says “You’re making excuses.” or “You’re just being lazy, get over it.” I’m sure you’d much prefer to not have had a broken back, but the bravery of advocating for those who are pushed to play pretend is inspiring.

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