It’s Halloween today – which, for most people, means either the joy of jack o’ lanterns and the perfect excuse to dress up in the most outrageously slutty outfit imaginable, or the annoyance of children knocking on your door to pester you for sweets. But for me, it now signifies a rueful anniversary: one year since I did my back in.
It’s been an interesting twelve months: living with chronic pain takes some getting used to, and I’d be lying if I said there hadn’t been a lot of frustrations. Cancelled holidays. Agonising journeys. Living a very restricted life, for many months. But the thing which strikes me mostly powerfully, when I look back and reflect on the past year, is how lucky I am. I mean, yeah sure, I had some bad luck with my injuries, but that is more than made up for by the good luck. I was lucky with my work; I had an understanding boss and a generous sick pay provision, so I could concentrate on recovering rather than worrying about getting fired. I was lucky with my home; I have a spacious and beautiful house, so spending so much time at home didn’t drive me stir crazy. I was lucky with my family and friends, and most of all my husband, who were all loving and supportive. I was lucky with the area I live in, surrounded by safe and pleasant streets and parks, so I could walk around and get my exercise without it ever feeling like a chore. I was lucky in any number of ways, so that, while I can’t claim it’s been a good year, it was a whole lot better than it could have been.
At this point, I’ve recovered a great deal from the state I was in last November, and although I’m still far from back to perfect health, I’m now able to do most of the things that make up a satisfying life. So long as I remember to do my stretches and take my cocktail of painkillers. Ideal? No. Better than many? Yes. Enough to get on with the things that are truly important? Definitely.
I’m hoping that, by this time next year, I might be taking fewer drugs, and able to fly off on holiday to the Med. Maybe I’ll get there, maybe I won’t. But more than the physical improvement, I want to make sure I remember what it felt like, and how much worse it could have been. To remember how lucky I was, how lucky I still am. I believe the old school phrase is to count one’s blessings. So I will. And I may as well check my privilege while I’m at it, to bring myself bang up to date.