2 years ago. Things are going to be ok.
It's surreal to look back on this time. Just over 2 weeks prior to these photos I'd gone for my routine smear test. It left me in pain as it always does but this time it didn't pass, the pain just lingered and in fact gradually seemed to be getting worse. Nevertheless I battled on, fighting against the pain. I'd collapsed several times, been to more than one emergency department, seen numerous doctors.
I was still working, TENS machine under my uniform, patients worrying over my pained expressions, the ward sister repeatedly sending me home early. I was still doing my best, still going out and having fun even though it killed me. After all this was a temporary short term thing, at this stage no one thought it would become long term.
It robbed me of my career, it robbed me of my mobility and some of my favourite pastimes such as running and sex, it's destroyed my concentration and cognitive abilities.
None of the doctors I've seen can offer an explanation beyond pain theories and a freak reaction by my body. Medications have robbed me of my memory. Medical investigations have exacerbated my pain long term and introduced additional problems (full bladder signals AWOL).
However there are always silver linings. I've discovered a new love for swimming and yoga, I've engineered a way to still get out into the wilds and exercise the huskies too without assistance. I've embraced the freedom that comes with not working and experimented with my hair. I've started new projects and taken up new voluntary challenges. I've met some wonderful people I'd never have met in my old life. I get to spend more time with my animals. I've learnt to move my body in different ways to strengthen my muscles and stabilise my joints. I appreciate the small things and take time doing things instead of rushing around.
I kind of wish I could go back and reassure this old me that things will be ok, they'll be tough, but they'll be ok.