Back Pain Hernia Hell

The wisdom of pain, mapping my mid life crisis.

‘Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
Brene Brown

2023 caught me off guard. It’s been the toughest year for me since 2010. 

 I was going to share this in October but in light of what’s been going on in the world I felt ashamed somehow that I was suffering, when others were suffering more. But, this is my truth, and surely that’s valuable right?

I hope this piece creates a sense of connection within you and inspires you in some way.  I wrote the bulk of this whilst in Portugal in October, I have since returned home to Ibiza.  I’ve invested heavily in – Iyengar Yoga, Osteopathy, Nutrition, Top Physios, my own medicine of meditations, physical practice etc.  I’ve created a healing island for myself.

 I’m happy to say I feel like I’m really healing. I feel good, I feel confident and feel good in my skin.

October 4th, 2023

My name’s Katie, I’m 41 and I’m drowning. 

This year, I decided to move to a new country, new location, new house, new living dynamic, new language, new culture, new life admin,  new work opportunities, the whole shebang. 

5 days after I’d moved out of my home in Ibiza, (on the first day of the eclipse, May 5th hashtag !!!) and 3 days before I was due to drive from Ibiza to Portugal car loaded up, to my new abode in Sintra national park no less … I had a disc explode in my lower spine and I couldn’t walk.  

 It was a HELL of a few weeks in and out of hospitals, seeing every specialist I could form the regular mainstream doctors to alternatives and holistic medicine too. My house was already rented out so I was on the bounce (well, crawl)  in excruciating pain from pillar to post.  

This is the third yes third time in my life ii’ve suffered a massive hernia so I knew the journey ahead. Yes I have cried and cried and cried this year.

I felt there was just no way I could recover without surgery. I had scar tissue and disc fragments embedded in my sciatic nerve and down into the spinal canal. The pain was intense. I had surgery at the end of May. 

 Fast forward 6 months and here we are. Still alive. Still negotiating with pain everyday albeit it’s changed a lot. I’m depressed. I’ve lost a lot of confidence in myself, my dreams and ambitions for the future and in life.

I’m aware there are people out there who’ve had a far worse year than me, so I feel ashamed and in hiding with my thoughts and feelings. I let go of Portugal for now, nothing seemed to be flowing or coming my way and I’m back in my home trying to process wtf just happened.

People love a success story, social media is full of them, so it’s an uncomfortable spot feeling like a failure. 

 The surgery I was promised would take 30 minutes and be back to work in a few weeks was changed.  I still don’t fully know what was actually done. The neurosurgeon who performed it hasn’t replied to my messages for a follow up. It’s a strange feeling knowing that something was done to your body for four hours and not knowing what it was. I’m now, six months later, processing that uncomfortably.   

I feel like I got to 41 and this year, I didn’t attain anything I hoped for.

Literally every opportunity I received was cancelled or fell through. I yearned for a loving relationship, a home, a good job with a supportive team, a decent income, a family, a dog, LOVE & JOY. To be working towards creating my dream of running a Co-living centre called The Space based on the 5 elements…. And I’ve never felt so far from it in my whole life.  

So much of our identity is based on our careers, our families, how well our kids are, how well we are doing.  What happens when you don’t have any of those things and you have to handle a health crisis on your own?  I’ll tell you what happens.  

POOF. The lights go out.  You feel lonely and lost. You feel you’re a failure not only to yourself but to your lineage, to all the opportunities you missed.  

You feel like an old dolly that’s been tossed out of the window into a bush all tatty & strewn and weathered.  Ever to rot and get mouldy and forgotten. 

You sit in cafes wondering if you should get a job there. You remember that video with Thom York (Radiohead) where he’s got his head in a huge glass tank filled with water. You feel like that.  People converse with you but you feel like you’re not really there. You feel totally unseen and uncared for. 

  I’m not sure about my future right now, I’m unsure if I’ll go for it here in Ibiza, or if it’s over. I’m not sure how I’ll support myself financially and I feel vulnerable yet curious. I miss water sessions terribly. 

 I still have dreams of opening The Space, a co living centre based on the 5 elements but genuinely wouldn’t know where to start with it.  I wake up each morning wondering if I’ll be able to stand up, and most nights in bed wondering what’s the point of it all.  I sway from doing daily practice and not giving up in my healing process, to just letting go of the ropes completely. 

So what have I personally learned from this process this year? 

  1. You never know what is around the corner so count your blessings each day. 
  2. With great pain comes immeasurable PRESENCE and wisdom. 
  3. To understand what success is, you have to have experienced proper failure. 
  4. To know true true joy, you need to have experienced proper pain. 
  5. The importance of listening to yourself in spite of external data. I kept getting knots in my stomach and tenderness in my body at the start of the year before the move. But, I decided to be brave, ignore them,  and plough on through. 
  6. Your body is always, ALWAYS giving you cues consciously or unconsciously. Either choose to listen to them today or your body will probably force you to listen eventually anyway. 
  7. Never underestimate the importance of living within your core values. What are your core values and how do you keep them in check each day? 
  8. The older I get I realise the less I know (LOL) 
  9. The importance of having healthy boundaries, so you can communicate effectively with medics/health professionals, work opportunities, living situations, even friends & family. 
  10. The ability to ask for help however weak and shameful it may feel. 
  11. The importance of therapists and professionals who can support you when things get tough. 
  12. Continued presence of spiritual practice to help you feel grounded.  
  13. Plan/Aim for the best, also have a back up plan for the worst. 

How’s your year unfolding? Have you ever experienced a difficult time and how did, or how are you managing it? What are your learnings?

I’m working away quietly on 2 group programmes that aim to tackle things I’ve faced this year in case it helps someone else. 

One is called 

CONNECT –  is a circle designed to combat loneliness by bringing people together (remote).  Weekly meet up & share authenticity, vulnerability and explore peace and joy whatever is alive for you that week.  It is FREE to practise receiving. You just arrive as yourself with all your ‘stuff’ alive at that moment. Maybe there’ll be a theme to explore or a card to be pulled. We’ll share and connect depending on the moment or our vibe. It’s on Tuesday evenings 7.30-9pm (CET). It’s free. 

Link to sign up. 

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