Have you ever felt a pain that made you think you are about to die? I have had this horrible experience.
Pain and Treatment
One morning, I got up and could not feel my whole right arm and had a shooting pain near my neck. I was just 32 and wanted to live! I was in tears when I woke up my husband. He consoled me and immediately took me to a Doctor.
At that time, I was working as a Teacher in India, and carried a lot of notebooks home for grading. The doctor assumed that this caused the pain. He gave me some medication but it did not help me. He suggested that I see an Orthopedic Surgeon.
It was a stressful time for us. My husband was about to be transferred to their Tokyo Office.
The pain was unbearable and I was not even able to write. I held my right hand with my left to write. I finally resigned from my job as I was not able to think and teach properly.
The Orthopedic surgeon told me that my spinal cord was straight and there were nerve bulges between a couple of spinal disks. I was advised complete bed rest for about 2 months.
He wanted me to explain how my typical day was from the very start of the day. I started narrating it to him. “I set the alarm in the morning for 5am and then start waking up from 4 am just to check if the clock is working…” ”STOP”, The doctor immediately said, ”I don’t want to hear any more detail! Why so much stress?”
He advised me to go for physiotherapy, not be a “perfectionist”, lead a calmer life, reduce weight by going on a strict diet, and wear a neck collar. He told me to start doing light work after 2 months and prepare for our upcoming move to Tokyo.
Road to Recovery
I tried following all his instructions with great difficulty. The hardest part, for a foodie like me, who has a sweet tooth, was to keep away from cakes and chocolates! For about 3-4 weeks, I stopped eating sweets, then the cravings started and I would substitute at least one meal a day with just fatty and sugary sweets! This was not working! In fact I gained more weight! I started chanting the Mantra, ‘ I can do it!’ and focused my mind on doing some light gardening. This actually helped me keep away from sweets, reduce weight and relax my mind.
I started prioritizing my time and finished only the important tasks, leaving the other work for my family members to do; I kept telling myself, ’It’s Ok if they don’t do it the way I want, as long as it is done.” Basically I started playing mind games to control my brain!
I still wore my collar on long rides. Even with a collar, I used to get pain.
Once on a long trip I noticed that I used to stiffen my body whenever I saw a speed bump or a pothole. That was my body’s way of telling me, “the road is bumpy and you are surely going to be in pain.” I decided to fight this feeling. First time I encountered a speed bump, I had the pain; 2nd ,3rd, 4th, so on, then maybe it was around the 40th or 50th bump that I was finally able to focus and relax my body and did not feel the pain! Wow, now I knew that I could control my body with just sheer will power!
Slowly, I started doing other chores that I was not able to do using my new-found power. I also realized that I was heavily dependent on my collar. I decided to just dump it in the trash one day and I am proud to say that I have not worn it any time after that.
This has taught me that where there is a will, there’s definitely a way! This will-power has helped me be what I am today.
Written by: Lakshmi Sridhar, a member of Women L.E.A.D. Toastmasters