Friday, October 22, 2021

13 Years Later, Now

I recently posted Reflecting 12 Years Post Accident, which I wrote in 2020. Please feel free to click over and give it a read. While I don't post about it every year, I felt the need to, again, this year (2021).

Mixed emotions. That's how I feel, as the 13th anniversary of my car accident approaches. Each year hits a bit differently. It doesn't always affect me. I took the power of that date back several years ago. I know that the date isn't inherently bad... yet, I feel the weight of it a bit more this year.

Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash

This year, it makes sense why it's on my mind more.

On September 30, I woke with what I labeled a "sleeping injury." I had pain and limited range of motion in my right shoulder and neck. I joked about how ridiculous our bodies are, that I could hurt myself while in an unconscious state.

I figured it was simply a matter of sleeping weirdly and that it would dissipate in a few days.

It didn't.

The tightness, pain, limited range of motion worsened each day. I've tried: heat, ice, muscle relaxers, nsaids, theracane, lidocaine patch, gentle massaging and stretching.

My sleep and daily functioning are both being disrupted and limited. I want to write, but I'm having a difficult time physically doing so.

There's an emotional component to this pain, as well, as it's reminiscent of past trauma / pain.

I know that our minds are prone to distort or misremember things, including pain experiences. This is often compounded by time. Understanding all of that, there's still a familiarity with the pain and limited range of motion I've been experiencing.

I injured my neck and right shoulder in a 2008 car accident. While I don't fully remember a chunk of time after the accident, I remember pieces. One of those pieces is that there was a lot of pain and I was physically very limited in using my right arm and neck.

Two years after the car accident, I had a neurostimulator implanted (2010). I had a very long and difficult recovery, including severely limited range of motion in my neck.

I've been doing a good job recognizing the connection to these past traumas / events that my mind and body are making, and reminding myself that they are separate. The car accident isn't happening right now. I am safe. 

In light of current struggles, I'm being reminded:
  • Healing isn't linear - past grief, trauma, loss, challenges keep showing up. Each time they do, I do my best to feel it and process through.
  • I'm safe - it can be especially difficult to remember this, when there's such similarity in how I feel (physically and/or emotionally). 
  • I'll get through this, as I have previous challenges.
Update: I was seen by primary care on 10/5. I woke on the 13th anniversary day (10/10) with the first notable improvement in symptoms since they started. I'm so grateful for that. I have imaging and doctor appointments on the schedule to help determine the path forward.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Reflecting 12 Years Post Accident (2020)

I wrote this post last fall (October 2020), as the anniversary of the car accident approached. 

Over the years, the meaning and emotion of the event have ebbed and flowed in a way that perfectly illustrates the grief process. I've written about this multiple times before: 
When I moved to Arizona in 2017, I started seeing a headache specialist here. It so happened that the date of that initial appointment was the same as the accident. I consciously chose to take back that date; the move and new provider representing a clean slate of sorts. 

This year has been filled with so much loss, on both the individual and collective levels. Perhaps it's in light of this that I find myself more aware, as the anniversary of the accident approaches.

As 12 years post accident approaches, I find myself reflective. 
Photo by Faramarz Hashemi on Unsplash

Following my accident, I fought hard to get back the pre-accident Jamie. I finally reached a level of acceptance in living with this disease, and fought hard for the Jamie I am today. I'm still a work in progress, no doubt. But, in this moment, I recognize that I've come a long way.

I have to be very mindful about how I think about this. It can be all too easy to spin down a path of what ifs. The truth is, the person I was when the accident happened is frozen in time. She very well might've had a different journey, but the person I missed for so long (and sometimes still do) would be whoever she grew to be over the years. And, that, is unknowable. It will forever be an unknown. So, I must remind my mind that the grass may not have been greener. 

I'm grateful to have some people close to me that know me and love me as I am, not who they wish I was. I want to see me through their eyes, to believe in myself the way they believe in me...  with less self-critical judgment. I'm working on it.

Today, I recognize that living with chronic pain is hard, that each year that passes may affect me differently, that grief is a process with ebbs and flows... and... that I can do more than I think I can, that I can engage with myself with compassion and love, that I can give myself space to experience the grief process in all the ways it shows up. 

(As I'm posting this a year after writing it, I'll share about this year's anniversary in a separate post) 

"Loving ourselves through the process of owning our story is the bravest thing we'll ever do." - Brene Brown

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