Dark Place

I often wonder if many others find themselves in a dark place from time to time. Dark, I mean dark where you contemplate different scenarios and outcomes to alleviate your pain.  I think to myself there must be others. The dark place couldn’t have been saved just for me. Those of us that find ourselves in that dark place tend to keep it to ourselves fearing vulnerability and judgment.  I believe that is where unhealthy begins. Acknowledging the darkness is freeing. Not to say that every personal internal thought must be shared, but finding that person or persons that you trust enough to acknowledge and share that you are in a dark place helps. Life is full of hills and valleys. No one is at the top of the hill every day.  Anyone who tries to make you believe they are is just not truthful or authentic.

Recently I suffered what I call a freak phenomenon. Fifty-six years of my life I was able to walk, run, ride, skip, hop, do a split, dance, swim, exercise, and jump. I possessed the ability to move freely without thought, restriction, or pain.  In an instant that changed. Changed without any major life-threatening experience or tragedy.

I had just woken up and duty called.  It was a routine and casual painless morning stroll to the ladies room.  My right leg, a leg that I had come to know and love had betrayed me. I no longer knew this strange limb. The strange limb that once operated with optimum performance failed me.   The limb went numb but not without the excruciating pain that traveled from my toes, around my calf, crossed over the inner thigh, continuing up my leg, and smashing into my groin where the pain intensified.  It felt like every bone in the vicinity of my groin was shattering and cutting like glass.

Although I could not feel my leg, I could feel the pain in my groin so much so that I could no longer walk.  I fell to the ground and slid my not-so-svelte body across the bathroom floor screaming and crying.  Somehow I managed to climb back into my bed. My son rushed to my room from a deep sleep.  He was not sure if he was dreaming or if his mother who had always appeared to be a body of strength was the one screaming out for help.  Yes, it was me.

I knew I needed to go to the hospital, but we were in the middle of a pandemic, the dreaded COVID-19.  I was terrified.  I had no choice.  At the hospital, it seemed my condition stumped many.  The doctors were not sure why there was so much pain.  There was no event or any major accident that would explain the cause for such excruciating pain nonetheless it was evident pain existed.  Probed and prodded and most importantly tested for the dreaded COVID-19.  Thank God I was negative. Drugs were administered to try to alleviate the pain.  Somehow they thought 800 milligrams of Motrin was enough and I could get up and go home.   I could not move or the groin pain intensified nor could I feel my right leg.  Getting up and walking was not an option.  I was admitted.

This was one of the darkest moments of my life.  I truly believed I would not walk again. I believed I would be paralyzed confined to a wheelchair or walker for the duration of my life.  I felt doomed.  My mind was flooded with many negative thoughts.

I spent four days in the hospital on oxy and a parade of other medications to combat the pain and the nerve damage I suffered. All of this because in my spine, L5 has a slipped disc pressing on my sciatic nerve.

Finally discharged feeling helpless and in despair.  I could not see how I was going to resume the life I once knew.  I couldn’t do anything for myself. I found myself in that dark place contemplating different scenarios and outcomes.  As time passed something came over me.  I thought people are living their best life who are in worse situations if they can carry on.  So can I.   

A nurse came to my house three times a week as did my physical therapist.  I learned how to walk again first with a walker until I got stronger and then with a cane.  It took time but I decided I was going to fight.  I was determined to regain some sense of normalcy.  Finally, I graduated and was able to leave the house in my car and drive to the doctor.   I saw a neurologist, orthopedist, and a pain management doctor every two weeks. I began physical therapy in a facility outside of my home.  Walking was very slow and painful but I remained determined.  I receive an epidural in my back once a month.  I take medications every day for nerve damage and pain.  

Today I walk with a cane and a slight limp. The cane is more of a precautionary measure,  just in case my leg gives out as it does from time to time, because of the herniated disc. I don’t need it nearly as much as I use to.  I still have a bit of numbness in my toes and the side of my calf.  I am truly living my best life.  I have resumed most of my activities. 

I spent several weeks in that dark place until I realized I don’t want to be in that dark place.  I want to be in the light. I want to shine for the world to see. So I push forward, continue treatments, pray, read my daily affirmations, and day by day I get better. Stairs are still a challenge. Down the road, I’ll need surgery.  One thing is for sure I will stay in the light and shine for the rest of my days.

Push through and always look for the light so you can shine.