I remember a time in college where I was bending over to get something out of my book bag. A guy approached me and asked if I was a gymnast or a dancer. I was shocked, for two reasons really; first and foremost, um, get a new pick up line and, second, how the hell did he know I was a gymnast? He went on to say it was the way I bent over with ease and grace and I continued to be a bit weirded out. I wish I could end this short story with “then that man became my husband” but really, I don’t even remember what he looked like.
The point being, there was a time I moved uninhibitedly.
I was a gymnast, a competitive one at that, for years. I was that girl that would do handstands on walls that enclosed the Grand Canyon. I may have done the splits at a bar after being dared and, of course, after throwing a few back. I could also beat my husband, with ease, in a push up contest.
I’ve always taken pride in my body. Not so much in terms of appearance, but in terms of ability.
None of that changed when I gave birth twice to very large babies. I recovered and I went on doing handstands around the house and so on and so forth.
And then came back surgery. I’m far enough along in recovery now that I can do things. To the naked eye, my life may seem more or less normal. My thoughts, however, are plagued constantly by my aches and pains and limitations. I’ve adapted to not bending by bending instead at my knees. And, now, every time I squat down to pick something up, my knees ache and my thighs burn. My body is failing me, yet it’s not that at all. My body is healing and it feels like it’s taking forever. It feels like I live everyday in the body of an elderly woman. I need breaks, I need to rest in bed, I need to ice, hell, I’m two shakes of a lambs tail from switching from Advil to Alieve which would surely put me in the senior citizen category.
Learning to listen to your body; knowing when to push, when to give up, when to ask for help… It’s all a challenge and it’s all a careful balancing act.
Recovery is still very much a part of my life.
*As a side note, thank you to each of you who have also endured a spinal fusion and have reached out to offer advice or encouragement. It’s your words that keep that light at the end of the tunnel lit.

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7 Responses

  • Oh goodness, Ashley! I’ve been MIA for a while and did not know you’d had back surgery! I am glad to hear you are on the mend, but could not imagine the recovery for that. I’m such a terrible patient…I recently broke my wrist and have been in a hard cast for the last six weeks. That alone has nearly driven me over the edge. (I’m really stubbornly independent!!) I hope you continue to heal and feel better!!

    Thinking of you!

    Love and light,

  • I know you don’t feel tough, but you are. I am quite certain I would have gone insane if I had to endure recovery like you have. You have gone about handling your daily life without complaining, though I know you are in pain. Sometimes, when we talk on the phone, or even when I see you in person, I forget… because you don’t remind me. You don’t wince or whine or anything. You endure it. I would not be that graceful. I would be a total self-pitying bitch. I have to think at the end of this, you will have an appreciation for your body. And though you joke that you’ll go back to being impatient with everything, I doubt you will. I’ve been so impressed with your tenacity, your commitment to doing shoots (even shoots that require a long, probably painful drive), and your stubborn insistence on going on with things. Like I said, you’re tough.

  • Living with chronic pain and limitations is just… hard. So hard. I have an old hip injury from my dancing years that has plagued me for almost 15 years. (Nothing as severe as your recovery! But shit, 15 years is a long time.) I have finally gotten it under control, but part of that process was realizing: I resented my body, I felt like my body had failed me, I maybe even hated my body. I know it sounds woo-woo, but I really believe that learning to honor my body again was crucial to healing.

  • “two shakes of a lambs tail…” this whole sentence made me smile. Here’s to feeling better and doing hand stands again:)

  • I have loved reading about your surgery and recovery. I am a 35 year old mom of 4 and just had the same surgery in March. You are the first person I have found who has had the surgery in sonik at circumstances. I have had no one to compare to so it is great to hear your journey. Thank you for sharing. I need to update my blog and get my story out there!

    • Yes, you do. Would love to read your story as well. Thanks for sharing. And wow, I’m so used to seeing my own x-ray but yours blew me away. Hope you’re doing well. xo


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