It has shaken me to the core. I know as we age we will see it time and time again, but it has left me with an unsettled feeling. On one hand it scares the life out of me, on another it motivates me to do as we have been doing, living life to the fullest.
Living with the spinal injury has been difficult but had actually become commonplace. There were things I could do and things I couldn't, bad days of pain and very good days without much pain at all. Even when I had been given the secondary diagnoses of a lung disease, we took that as it came. Things were not perfect, but we carried on and lived as comfortably as we could.
During that time we often talked about the travelling we would do when Barry retired. Although we travelled each year, it was generally within Canada and we longed for trips to Europe, Asia and beyond.
It was when I was diagnosed with severe spinal stenosis that required surgery to pervent paralysis that we saw the writing on the wall. Who has faced the threat of paralysis once let alone twice? It woke the both of us up to a future that may be uncertain. We started to realize if I'm doing well enough to travel after the surgery than we must. We can't wait till after retirement. I may have more restrictions than I do now.
With that in mind we decided on a trip this fall to Italy and Greece. My sister and her husband had wanted to go for their 40th anniversary and asked us to go along with them. We agreed.
It has been great motivation for me to get out walking and get this rehab on my back done. I have been averaging three kilometres a day and there are days when I walk much further. It is hard to believe a little more year ago I was in a wheelchair, used a walker and was in a rehabilitation centre. With hard work, and a lot of help, I've come a long way.
We plan to modify some of the tours to suit our needs and other times my sister and I will choose easy routes and join the guys later. I'm happy to push myself, but smart enough to know if I push too hard it will ruin the trip, so I will moderate.
I've had to give up a lot of things because of my condition. I have often felt sad to not be able to participate in some things, but I have also known the pleasure of being able to know my limits and work around them. I've worked hard this year to get to where I am, and sometimes I see someone out for a walk and wonder if they ever realize how fortunate they are to have two working, strong legs. I know the answer, nobody thinks of those things until it happens to them or a close friend. Be grateful, for all that works on your body, and do what you can to keep it working. I know I am!