Words and Images by David Finley
A year ago this week, my life changed.
It changed both swiftly and painfully. Physically, I became broken. The rigors of life, stresses of my job, and the emotional scars of my past gathered in alliance, forming an assault against me.
Waves of pain as I had never known before coursed through bone, nerve, and muscle traveling from my neck, down and up the left side of my back and shoulder, and back down my left arm. I couldn't lay down. I couldn't bend or turn my neck. I was unable to recline and sleep was all but impossible. My left arm began to noticeably atrophy and shrink.
All I could do was sit and concentrate on enduring and fighting my pain. And the pain... it just never stopped or eased at all.
Nearly two weeks later, the pain mercifully dimmed. It still hurt a lot, and although I was still unable to lay down, I could recline somewhat, able to claim my first uninterrupted hour of sleep since the whole ordeal began. For the next week my sleep came in short bursts of two to four hours a night, but I was so thankful for even that.
An MRI revealed multiple worn, fragmented and herniated disks in my neck. Combined exposure to both injury caused by repeated wear related to stunts I performed at work, along with intense emotional stress had taken its toll on my neck and overall health.
A New Beginning
But, I don't want this story to be about the way I was broken. This is a new beginning; my wake up call. Before the injury, I became so fixated on providing for my family that I allowed myself to work at a job that was perpetually destroying me. The irony is that I labored so intensely to provide money that I was inadvertently diminishing the amount of myself emotionally that I was able to give my wife and cats. As I've stated in previous posts, anger and fear had stolen a great deal of my quality of life, but now was my chance to begin reclaiming it.
Although it wasn't overnight, I have steadily recovered over the past year. Over several months, the pain receded to its current level of minor occasional discomfort. My left arm has gotten stronger, regained its sensation, and is currently of similar size to my right arm. The most noticeable change is my day to day happiness and peace. I finally had the courage to stand up for myself at that stressful job in spite of the consequences. Now, I'm enjoying life and chasing my dreams.
Don't get me wrong, there have been a lot of adjustments. Even now, I'm not nearly as strong overall as I was before the injury. Also, I have to be a lot more careful with my neck. But, it's okay. I have faith that those things will continue to improve as I continue to take better care of my emotional, spiritual, and physical health.
Before I sign off, I just want to say that I don't know if I could have endured it all without the strength and love of my wife, who stood by me through the entire ordeal. She is an answer to prayer.
So now, it's a year later and I am so thankful for the pain that reshaped my life. I am thankful to be doing work that matters even if the money isn't there yet. I am thankful to be given a second chance.
Thanks for reading Scofflaws!