Recently Broken Back, Looking For Support


Dear Whole Woman friends,
It has been quite a few years since I have written on this forum, though I have continued to do the work, and also have been participating in Christine's Joy of Menopause online class. Not long ago, though, all that came to a sudden and most unwelcome halt. On July 26, I was picking figs on a ladder, when the ladder twisted and fell, and I fell on top of and across it, breaking three vertebrae in my back in the process. The vertebrae were T13 (yes, I have an extra vertebra; it was a compression fracture), L1 (a "burst" fracture, meaning it was broken into fragments) and S3 (a so-called "subtle" fracture).

I was lucky; my spinal cord was undamaged, and they decided not to do surgery. Instead, they put me in a brace called a TLSO, which is a bit like an old-fashioned corset; I have to wear it whenever I am vertical, though I am allowed to take it off when I sleep. I also have a lot of "thou shalt nots": no twisting, bending, reaching, lifting anything over 10 lbs, or high-impact activities like running or jumping. I have to wear the brace constantly till probably late October, when (assuming that everything goes well, and I don't end up needing surgery) they will start "weaning" me off of it... but I have no idea how long that will take, or how long it will take for me to recover completely, or what "complete recovery" will look like.

Needless to say, all this has played hell with my Whole Woman exercise routines and also my ability to maintain posture, though I have continued to at least try to do the latter, and I can sit cross-legged for brief periods before it hurts too bad. Also since the accident I have insisted on only peeing and pooping standing up, even though it was a couple days before I was able to pee at all, and four days before I could poop (and they were threatening to catheterize me, and then, to give me enemas... quite the incentive). I was in the Acute Care unit for a week before they released me to a so-called "skilled nursing facility" (I renamed it "the Hellhole"), where I remained for nearly two weeks.

Since then, I've been gradually adjusting to living on my own again. I'm recently divorced and in a time of complete uncertainty-- right now I'm in a temporary sublet situation for another week, then I move to a different apartment for a month, then I have no idea where I'll live after that... nor do I know what work I will be able to do to support myself, or when I will be well enough to do it. Also during that month I have to prepare to sort and remove the rest of my stuff out of my ex-husband's place, because our lease there ends on the 7th of November... and I have to figure out where to put it, and how to get it packed up and moved, since I won't be able to do most of it myself (and he is pretty much worthless at helping with anything). Talk about STRESS!! I keep reminding myself to just try to accept all the uncertainty... but it's really hard, and really scary, exhausting and overwhelming. I still get tired really quickly, so I can't get much done.

Anyway... I know you can't help me with any of this. I mostly wish I knew which of the Whole Woman exercises I could safely do, within my current limitations! And I've felt so terribly alone, dealing with all this, though I've thought of all of you, and of Christine, often. One thing I will say, more for others' benefit than my own: the fact that I'd been doing the Whole Woman exercises on a nearly daily basis for about seven years prior to the accident meant that I was able to come out of the so-called "rehab" facility much sooner than I otherwise might have. In fact, the PT people who saw me there were blown away by how able I was to do their tests: one told me that he had never seen ANYONE able to sit up and down from the bed as many times within the time limit as I was... and believe me, I"m no athlete! Also standing on one leg, and doing things like the Grapevine step... which, actually, I volunteered to do. They just wanted me to sidle along a wall! Anyway... all that work paid off, in more ways than just managing my prolapse.

I've been working really hard at avoiding constipation in natural ways (weaned myself off their nasty chemicals as soon as I could, and also snuck a kefir grain into the SNF so I could make some probiotics for myself with the little glasses of milk they provided... and I fermented that, and some apple juice someone brought me, on my bedside tabletop... and I got my ex to bring me a loaf of real sourdough bread (not entirely whole grain, but you can't have everything) because the nutrition in that place was AWFUL! As were MANY other things. Anyway... I won't get into the horror stories. I have managed to make Christine's strong-bones smoothie a few times since I've been out on my own again, and I am continually doing my best to have good nutrition. I have managed to keep the prolapse somewhat under control, at least enough to (mostly) avoid leakage... but lately it's started to get worse again. I can sit cross-legged, and try to maintain the posture when I'm upright, but I can't do very much firebreathing, etc, because of the brace.

I think I'm starting to repeat myself, so I'll stop now. Thanks for listening, and for all the good you do. :)


Hi mulchfairy. So sorry to hear of all your troubles.....when it rains, it pours, as they say. But I'm glad that the WW work has been successful for you, and has helped you deal with the physical challenges you now face.

If you're healing from a broken back, there is really no one here (with possible exception of Christine herself, if you care to book a consult) who can advise you about exercise. If you can relax into WW posture, without discomfort, then I would say that you can use your best judgment about what else feels right and what doesn't. Just go slowly. Most of the WW work is just the fact of moving through your day in posture. Everything else, including the exercise, is secondary to that.

Keep us posted about your physical and emotional progress as the days go. - Surviving

Dear mulchfairy,
I would like to send you support, wishing you a speedy recovery,
and let you know that you are not alone.
A few years ago I wrote a piece for the poetry forum.
I hope you find some comfort in it as you recover and beyond.
Here is the link.

Best wishes and much love,
from Aussie Soul Sister

Thank you both-- and thanks to Aussie Soul Sister for her poem, as well. :)

I'm keeping my head above water, but not much more, yet. An added challenge is that I've just started the process of separating out my possessions from my ex's, at my old apartment. So I can pack boxes, but not lift them after they're filled... and not only am I supposed to avoid bending, lifting and twisting (pretty much impossible), but it's also challenging to maintain proper posture while doing all the packing and sorting (and deciding, and discussing). I had a long day of it yesterday, and noticed the prolapse (and pain) was definitely worse afterwards. So I will be continuing to work on mindfulness, obviously. And sitting in Whole Woman posture whenever I can. ;)

The pain still gets pretty bad, pretty fast... but at least I'm off the oxycodone and other drugs now, and am using CBD and homemade cannabis capsules to help manage it. Also resting (which I should do again, soon).