Ten years ago today, on February 13th, 2004, I was a fairly healthy man, working as a prison chaplain. On that date I suffered an injury to my spine at work that would eventually lead to two surgeries. The first was a laminectomy that didn’t work, resulting in failed back syndrome. That necessitated a second surgery in 2005, resulting in spinal fusion. This stabilized my spine, but left me with titanium hardware in my lower back and permanent damage to the nerves in my left leg, and forced my medical retirement. I’ve been partly physically handicapped since then.
I guess I shouldn’t complain too loudly. There are those who’ve suffered similar injuries to mine who can’t walk any more, and are confined to wheelchairs. I need the aid of a walking-stick to cover any sort of distance, and I can’t move fast, but at least I’m still able to walk. Even so, it’s sobering to think that the only times I’ve been free of pain in the past ten years have been when I’ve been under the influence of total or local anesthesia. (I can vividly recall the last time I was conscious and pain-free. It was in 2005, after undergoing epidural anesthesia for the administration of steroids directly into my spine. For six blissful hours I couldn’t feel a thing below my waist. I couldn’t walk properly, couldn’t even pee – but I felt no pain. It was wonderful! Unfortunately, the anesthetic wore off in due course . . . )
A neurosurgeon told me in 2005 that I’d never be able to work again, and I should resign myself to living on disability income. I refused to believe him, and set about learning the craft of writing to prove him wrong. This blog has been a big part of that, and I most sincerely thank all of you for staying with me on the journey. My latest book has been on the market for only eight days, but it’s selling better than any of my first three. At the time of writing it’s well inside the top 1,000 books in Amazon’s Kindle store (out of something like 2½ million books for sale there). That’s both astonishing and gratifying to me. I know I owe a great deal of that success to you, my blog readers and followers. I’ll never have enough words to thank you sufficiently for helping me to find a new way in which to support myself and my wife. Just goes to show that the old proverb’s true – every cloud does have a silver lining, if you’re prepared to look for it and work hard to earn it.
My injury and resulting disability were also important elements in my courtship of Miss D., who is now my wife. She’s been the “pedestrian filling in a two-car sandwich”, as she likes to put it, and has suffered other serious injuries on previous occasions. It’s a blessing to both of us that when one complains about pain or weakness, the other really does understand exactly what they mean! We don’t have to wonder whether the other ‘gets it’. We know they do. Our shared pain draws us closer together, and helps us support each other on the bad days.
Thanks for being part of this journey with me for the past six-plus years on this blog. Here’s looking forward to many more years of writing, many more years with Miss D., and many more years of hobbling around! As for the pain . . . it reminds me that I’m alive. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.