Does the Back Injury Define Me? (catch up pt.2)

Half a year ago, my back doctor started talking surgery. It was bandied about for the next six months, without me putting any real effort toward it. To me, needing surgery was just further proof that backpacking was over, and since the thought of it also scared me, I didn’t pursue it.

Meanwhile, the aftermath of the injury continued to dictate my life. I didn’t hike anymore. I no longer walked for exercise. I tried back strengthening routines and failed-it only made the pain worse. I gained weight. And I stopped planning for future backpacking. I couldn’t. It was too distressing and painful. It seemed unlikely that I was going to bounce back in any kind of reasonable fashion. Any bit of optimism or determination I had to beat this thing just drained out. I believed that my dreams of long distance packing, not to mention my love of hiking hills, were ruined.

And then I made the move to Sacramento, and things changed. I went from an apartment in San José to my own house, I adopted a 2 yr old German Shepherd,  and I road-tripped to Colorado to visit family members- people I thought I might not ever see again- for the first time in over a decade. All important things, but in terms of my back, it was the move that altered my perspective.

Here in Sacramento, my house is two short blocks from the American River, and there are several paths along its shore. It’s beautiful. The sky is expansive in a way it just can’t be in San José. I knew right when I moved in that I was going to walk along the river every single day that I could, even if I couldn’t go more than a quarter of a mile, and even if it took me 30 minutes to do that quarter-mile. And that’s what got me thinking about all of it again. The PCT. Backpacking. How happy and complete I felt when I was striving toward my ambitious hiking goals. How much I missed it.

How much I wanted it back. Back. How much I wanted my BACK back. Enough to finally do what I was avoiding: meet with a neurosurgeon to discuss surgery.

Hastily drawn comparison of MRI in March 2014 vs. March 2013

Hastily drawn comparison of MRI in March 2014 vs. March 2013

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