One step, two steps

Life never ceases to be a roller coaster.

Over the past three months, since scheduling hip surgery for November, it’s been a back-and-forth internal debate about whether the benefits outweigh the risks. Then a plot twist was thrown in a week or two ago… my insurance is denying coverage, so surgery is cancelled while the appeals process takes place.

On top of this, I found out that I have mild-to-moderate lumbar stenosis and a disc extrusion. I’ve been having back pain for the past year, which got worse about 1-2 months ago. My diagnosis came via an MRI.

For a couple of weeks this month, I struggled a lot with fatigue, creeping depression, and an inability to focus clearly. I took a day off from work, grabbed my new hiking poles, and hit the trails at Walnut Creek park. I was able to do 4.5 miles and enjoyed being out in nature on my own. The hiking poles seemed to help relieve some of the pressure on my degenerative joints. I have mostly avoided hiking over the past 2.5 years due to pain, so it was a relief to be able to exercise like an able-bodied person.

A step forward, however small, is still a step.

Currently, I am trying to rediscover myself as I have lost part of my identity over the past five or so years. This was mostly due to stress, pain, and a loss of motivation – all a result of too many job changes, injuries, complex responsibilities, and changing relationships. My personality has changed in some ways. I have started to intentionally advocate for my mental health – through self-care, therapy, open conversations, a commitment to regular exercise, and the occasional day off. I am also trying to read, photograph, and write more.

Part of this struggle is accepting permanent changes.

I have several degenerative joints… so basically, I hurt most days. I can only hope that my body will respond to treatments. I rarely use my cane, but it or a hiking pole may become a permanent fixture if I continue to have flare ups and fatigue.

My body will not return to what it was before and accepting that can be hard some days. It can be hard to accept that my joints are degenerative at 30 years of age. It can lead to all sorts of questions… What course will my health take? How does this affect dating? Can I continue to travel by myself? Will I be able to continue with my current work schedule? (My current work schedule is usually good, but sometimes the commute home wipes me out!)

Until next time, salud.

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