The Power of the 5th Step

Who knew that the 5th step from the top had calamitous, universe shattering powers. Until 2 weeks ago I had passed heedlessly up and down across this step for well over 20 years, as my child grew up, my career developed, various cats and dogs came and went from our lives, colour schemes changed and our marriage matured. All this while I was oblivious to the truly life changing power held by the 5th step.lThen at 7am it revealed itself in its full bone smashing glory, cracking apart not just my morning, but my back, my independence, my sense of control and poise, and the next 12 weeks of my life, minimum.

The same day that the UK entered its reality shifting heatwave, the day that the British summer decided to behave in ways only known prior to this in myth and fairytale and childhood dreams, my T8 vertebrae was shattered by the sharp edge of the 5th step from the top. In the split second of the impact the bone in my spine fractured, and so did all the structure, purpose and meaning of my life for the foreseeable future. T8 it turns out is quite an important small bone, sitting somewhere near the centre of my body, and when it broke into pieces so did my physical, emotional and psychological well being. In a moment the 5th step had undone me, and the pain was excruciating.

Its hard to sum up the vulnerability of a broken back. In a very visceral way it feels like being broken in half, and you not only can’t or shouldn’t move, but you also have to lie flat facing the ceiling at all times. This leaves you with absolutely no idea of what’s happening around you, even in close proximity, and lying belly up feels very exposed and unsafe. And did I mention the pain…..

I had a thought that writing down my musings and my highs and lows might help me during my recovery from a fractured back, and might also touch themes which resonate with others in trying circumstances of their own. I do warn you however that I am an eternal optimist, and will be no doubt be looking for silver linings, when the pain recedes. Right now though I’m feeling pretty hopeless, in all senses of the word, and am off for some more painkillers……

Published by

greenmackenzie

Hi, I'm Seonaid, and I share my home with my husband, my son and a collection of cats and dogs. I am forever snapping shots of things which catch my eye. I love art which is here now and gone tomorrow...like food and nature...but also have a passion for vintage and the ancient past! Nature is my favourite muse, with her wild ever shifting seasons. I have been using and teaching mindfulness and relaxation for over 12 years, and have yet to become any sort of expert :-) I'm a Psychotherapist, and run the Maggies Highlands Cancer Centre, in Inverness, Scotland.

30 thoughts on “The Power of the 5th Step”

    1. Patience grasshopper! From a TV show in the 70’s, Kung Fu. Use those meditation skills.
      I fell 5 years ago and shattered my kneecap. I had an operation, 2 weeks of rehab, no driving for 6 weeks, physical therapy 2X a week in my house for 4 weeks, visiting nurse for 4 weeks, no bending for 6 weeks, walker, splint, then physical therapy 3X a week for 9 months to get the muscle and bending back in my leg. Blah,blah
      I was determined to not get down and to work it hard and get the usage back. I learned patience, to accept things the way they are. I got comfortable with hanging around and got into art journaling, online watercolor course to pass the time. I am loving and still doing art and am a more patient, compassionate person. I also an extremely careful as I walk. My knee slips out if I let my attention roam elsewhere. I did this at 60 and am now 65. The older you are the harder it is to regain that confidence and resilience. Good luck with your recovery. I look forward to following your journey to recovery.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, already I am developing more patience Anne, but I can see there are some other interesting lessons along the way to be looked at. Trust and accepting I can’t fix every thing myself….all very interesting. Mindfulness of course has already been a godsend, and I will think of you and your long but successful road to recovery if I’m every wobbly 😁

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  1. I am very sad to hear what has happened but I will be very happy to read about your process to recovery. I do not have such a challenge but know others who do. Perhaps I may learn something from you so I may understand how others cope or even pass on your process.

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  2. Most lovely lady – you will recover from any trial or tribulation put in your way. You are an inspiration to all of us and wonderful in every way.
    Speedy and successful recovery thoughts being sent your way xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gosh. I haven’t seen a blog from you in the longest time and now I discover this one. I am so sorry to hear of your terrible accident. I will follow your new blog right away. I have been immobilized by illness before but not to the extent you currently are. I feel for you and understand the emotional and mental turmoil that accompanies the physical pain. When I was confined to bed I found music was a great solace. I could only bear certain kinds of classical music and some ambient music. I couldn’t stand listening to songs or upbeat radio presenters. Sibelius was my favourite.
    Thinking of you and going to your new blog now… love – Suzanne (I used to blog at “Art and Life” but now blog at https://beinginnatureblog.wordpress.com/

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Suzanne, and yes I have already discovered that the right kind of music can carry me away from the pain and into quite a peaceful place for a while. It’s also been very helpful in terms of managing any building frustration.
      I’ve found your new blog too and am now following along💕

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      1. Thanks Seonaid. Looking back on my own illness I really think music was the one of the greatest healing tools I discovered. I am glad you are feeling it’s power too.
        The frustration of illness is really hard to deal with. For me the frustration of not being able to do what I wanted sometimes led to depression. Looking back I can see I had to stop the world for a time and focus on my own healing – physical, emotional and mental. It was a very difficult time though.

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      2. Frustration is a real challenge, and I have had to accept and surrender to this. I cant push my way through, or think my way to a sneaky shortcut. I just have to endure, stay present and let go all at the same time….simple😂 as you say the world just has to stop for me for a while….could be interesting….let’s see💕

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      3. Yep, illnesses where pushing only makes things worse are familiar territory for me. I am still dealing with that but in a much more low key than previously. The acute phase of such illnesses are really hard for our natural tendency is to resist and fight back. Fighting just makes the symptoms much worse – or at least that is my experience.
        One thing I found which might amuse you. At least I could still move my eyes 🙂 Tracking the flight path of a fly can become an engrossing experience at times like that.

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  4. Ouch! We both send you love, Love and more — the silence of wings in the the blue skies, the peace of long green, the healing waters from the Well of Age. Above and Below you, all around you, may the deep Heart hold you in its everlasting arms. xx D&E

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh Seonaid, I am SO sorry for you! Where I have never broken my back, I do have serious back problems… my vertebrae are in backwards due to my twisted pelvis. I know what PAIN is. Plus, over the years I have had difficult surgeries where I spent three months in a wheelchair. It DOES take patience and physical therapy, but eventually you will be moving around again. In the future be more aware of that 5th step. I’m sending Healing Hugs and Love your way!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All very much appreciated Gwynn, and while I’m new to this broken back thing, I’m aware that you like so many others have lots of experience on how to get through this. I’m definitely growing and developing patience, but am also trying to remember all the other things which have helped with unforeseen change in my past. What I do know is that I can’t rush this, it will take as long as it takes, so I might as well settle in for the duration😁 Each time I cross that 5th step now, I give it my respect for fear of more demonstrations of its power😳

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  6. Oh my dear Seonaid, I’ve thought of you often and checked your page a few times. I came to the conclusion that your life had taken a different path for a while and that you’d be back eventually. I’m so sorry to read about your injury, and hope the pain eases soon, it must be hideous. I’ll be following your recovery and sending virtual hug as that kind won’t hurt. Take care lovely lady.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for such lovely thoughts and hugs…..all very much appreciated💕there are many tales to be told of the last 18 months and my lack of blogging, among other things. This however has broken me, and forced me to stop….which may turn out not to be a bad thing overall. Once the pain lessens I’m hopeful that I’ll be more myself, and in the meantime I’m back in the blogosphere 😁💕

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  7. I am so sorry to hear about this Seonaid, and I can understand how you feel right now having gone through a mastectomy and chemotheraphy myself. Although it was some years ago I still remember how painful it was and how I was angry and short tempered. I resented being dependent,being sick but my family and friends were so supportive and very patient that I am grateful to have such wonderful people in my life.
    I don’t know why but writing is very therapeutic. Have been missing your posts and look forward to reading them again. The painkillers are a great help and soon you wont need them. Cheer up dear friend, this too shall pass.
    Sheela

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sheela, its great to be reminded that this will pass, and become something which happened to me, a memory! It’s very humbling how kind, supportive and caring people around me are being, and yes I can see some parallels with a cancer diagnosis and treatment. I’m hoping I might get lucky and that the process will be rather speedier for a broken back, than for breast cancer…but let’s see😊 I’m also hoping to get back to my usual ramblings on Breath of Green Air sometime this year💕

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Dear Seonaid, that is a streak of bad luck. And such a bad, bad 5th step. I would take it out at once!
    I’m so sorry you’re in so much pain. Wishing you a quick recovery, much patience, good books and tasty tea.

    I’m a back patient as well, rebel discs and stuff. It becomes a way of life. Remember to take it one step at a time. But not just yet!

    Warmest hugs from the Netherlands. ❤

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