Breaking My Back, Changing Trajectory

When I was 16, I broke my back. It wasn't a quick traumatic incident, it was a gradual break that occurred over a shortened period of time. The pains in my back never ceased, but I kept tumbling, kept running, kept going, until my feet went numb in class. Tingling pains were going down the side of my leg, and I knew "Hey, Mom, uh my feet went numb in class today, I think something might be wrong."

We get to the doctors, he asks me my symptoms, I describe them, to the top of his head as he's jotting down notes, with the affirming hmm and uh-hmm. He tells me to stand tall, place my feet together, and he pushes on the top of my head with three fingers. "Ow!!!" The pressure from his three finger tips instantly is felt in the low rungs of my back, causing me to break my posture, stance, and let out a large squeal. "Well, I think you broke your back, but we will confirm through X-ray," as the doctor jots down lab orders for the X-Ray.

Yep. Confirmed. Next up, the fitting for the plaster back brace. Age Sixteen: the peak of girl's discovering makeup, straighteners, and when boys go from cooties to cute. When the sweaty football players coming in from athletics are no longer looking like ew, get away, how disgusting to "Hey!!, and a wave from your end, to a flip of their sweaty mop of hair with a nod of the head, for what's up." Ah, high school.

So, fitted for plastic brace. No way to hide it. No clothing to really camouflage my plaster corset now adorning my "figure." Also, that figure thing, for so long you had a stick figure, now all the sudden you have a "figure"? Such an interesting time of life. So, you embrace it, all of that plastic corset, shell back brace. On Friday Nights, for football games you used to be cheering at, you rhinestone it. People are staring anyways, let's add some school spirit to it, why not? Beat the Wildcats printed out on computer paper, taped on the back of my plastic turtle shell back brace.

I am so thankful for that plastic turtle shell back brace. Breaking my back made me slow down literally and figuratively. I loved my talks with my parents on the 45 minute to hour drives to downtown Houston to the doctors. I had to lean and rely on my faith in ways I hadn't yet known. I also, had to embrace this new way I was perceived. People stared, they just did. I would too.  But, because of this, I fell for lack of a better term into my skin more. In the peak of when homecoming dances, how to apply a smoky eye, and the idea of "Popularity" reigned of importance, it was seemingly crushed as it contrasted with the reality of my new found adornment and accompanying back pain. Without it, without breaking my back, I'm not sure if I would be as goofy and comfortable in my skin as I feel I am (obviously everyone has insecurities has their stuff they deal with but you know what I mean.)

Breaking my back changed the trajectory I was on. I was launched into physical therapy, long thoughtful car rides with Mom and Dad, and how to deal with when people stared. Do you tell them how you broke it? Do you let them touch your brace, because they seem so intrigued? You do, and you do over again, and it made me who I am. It made me into Lindsey, and for a later date, an extended part 2 version, it altered my long term trajectory of where I thought I'd be too. Blessing is overused it's become a commonality when in reality it's should be highly regarded, so I won't use it for the sheer fact it's currently degraded to a casual saying, a funny joke (I'm guilty of using). So, breaking my back was transformative, and for that I'm grateful.

In the times you feel broken, in this case I was physically, it alters you, it transforms you, and changes the trajectory you are on, and I am honestly, truthfully grateful for it. Out of your broken-ness comes transformation. So, let it work on you, let it wear on you, it's transforming you, it's refining, defining, and making you, YOU!

"just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly."

"Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you. Don’t waste your pain; use it to help others.” - Rick Warren