Broke My Back, Wrote A Book

It’s been thirty-four days since my last workout. I had an idea that I was going to get hurt soon. My back ached above my kidney, or maybe it was my actual kidney. It happened when I went too hard for too long, tightness and pain to the touch. But if I’ve learned anything from fitness influencers, all I had to do was foamroll at night and I’d be fully healed by morning.

It was a workout like any other workout at F45 – loud, psychotic, painful, and taking me to the point of fainting. My back was tender when I woke up that morning but the soreness had become such a part of me that I didn’t think much of it. Until I was swinging the sledgehammer and it felt like a cannon went off inside me. I made the face women make when they suddenly find themselves in labor. And just like all the great men, I tried to push through it, wincing and gasping with every rotation of my torso, trying not to let the big metal hammer slip through my fingers as I lost the strength to maintain a grip.

Until finally I couldn’t move anymore. I found myself down on a knee, holding my breath, unsure of the last four seconds. I looked around and saw all my classmates carrying on, slamming battle ropes into the ground, jumping on boxes with weights over their head, and getting after the burpees in the corner. I thought because no one looked at me like I was actually injured that maybe I had imagined it, or made it a bigger deal than it was. So I finished the workout, for another twenty minutes.

When it was over I thanked whatever god was in charge of time and sat on the floor. I was loose enough and filled with enough adrenalin that I started to believe it could’ve just been a cramp.

I spent the next three days on the couch, with a sweater tied around my waist holding a bag of frozen peas to my back. I barely made it home from the workout that day on my bike. I kept my sunglasses on incase a tear or two squeezed itself out of my eye. Alexis was out of town for work and I was left to figure shit out on my own. Not that it would’ve made a difference, when she got home three days later I still insisted on tying my own knots and rolling myself onto my left side and pressing myself up to a seated position while whaling like a theater actor playing the part of mother who just lost her son instead of letting her help me stand up. If I did it all myself then maybe I would be less hurt.

“Three days and I’ll be back to 100%,” I told her.

“It doesn’t really look like it, sweetie.”

Perhaps it was the twelve minutes it took me to walk to the bathroom or that sticker from the Icy Hot patch stuck to my butt, but I wasn’t fooling her.

Thirty-four days later and I’m still unable to exercise. I try to jog a block here and there with Woody since the vet told us he was six pounds overweight and given that he only weights twenty-four pounds total it meant we had an obese dog. “How did this happen?” I asked Alexis as Woody went through his arsenal of tricks to get the piece of chicken dangling from my hands.

The jogs were brutal. A single block and my back was seizing up. Pulled muscles, sprained ligaments. I think I even fucked up my psoas somehow, because it was hurting through my body and into my stomach. I’m not positive, since I haven’t been to a doctor officially. I’m afraid to call my insurance. They haven’t adjusted my rate for two years since Obamacare started and I was broke. So I asked my Chiropractor and he said I didn’t look too good, which Alexis had already told me.

Being a person with a chemically imbalanced brain can make for an interesting life. Since I only have 30% of the active serotonin of a normal person I have to work really hard to make life feel “happy”. Which is possibly why I’ve pushed myself so hard and accomplished so much. That’s my Ted Talk theory anyway. What’s a little more accurate is that I have a meticulously plotted lifestyle that is so sensitive I can’t even enjoy the company of my best friends if I’m at their house past 9PM because I won’t have enough time to get home, journal, read, stretch, shower, and meditate before getting the mandatory eight hours of sleep I need in order to function, that is, if I’ve even made it there that long if dinner wasn’t the right balance of protein, fat, and carbs without a single grain in sight. If a tiny feather ruffles, my entire life might as well just collapse on itself.

You can imagine how important exercise is to me. It makes up at least a third of my entire plan. Taking that away is more than some washed up jock hurting his knee in a pickup basketball game and having to take a few weeks off, it’s actually threatening my mental state and my life. At least that’s how it feels. Like the walls are crumbling and the panic is growing – which could inevitably lead me to another severe depressive state – a state I have been able to avoid, for the most part, with such particular attention to every little detail.

Instead of falling down the dark hole of nothingness, I was greeted by a much more favorable circumstance. I wrote a book. With so much extra time on my hands (I couldn’t work out and I couldn’t hold a camera to work) I cleared off a space on the dining room table and rose every morning at 5:45AM (critical to get up before the sun if you’re writing something moody) and typed out the story of how I met Alexis. It’s been the story I’ve wanted to tell since the day of our wedding, when I felt such a deep connection to everyone around me and realized it was only possible through love.

In twelve days, I wrote an 80,000 word manuscript. That’s about 190 pages single-spaced in a Word doc. That is the other upside of being mentally unstable – when you put the sleeping dragon to work it tends to produce at an unrealistic level.

It’s a beautiful book. In so much as it’s very honest. Having my journals as a reference was a huge help. Five years of diligent note taking paid off. I did some horrible things to a number of women and I talk about all of it. There’s a mix of my own account, my journal notes, and a good dose of emails and texts that were exchanged. I suppose it is an admission in a time of denial. I am sorry for who I was but I’m also not – because it was who I was. And I went after what I wanted regardless of who it might hurt, which could be considered unforgivable behavior or it could be the reason I met the most loving person I’ve ever known. That’s kind of up to you, the reader. As my editor said in her initial thoughts – she was both drawn in by me and all the similarities she felt and also repelled by some of my behavior. Which makes it a conundrum emotionally. And that’s good, because when your happiness enzymes are only functioning at 30% capacity you need the things you read to dig inside your heart and mind and try to tear you apart. If nothing else, to find out who you really are.

We’ll see what happens with the book.  I’m having the first fifty pages edited right now so I can start querying. My goal is to get an agent and get published so I can finally call myself a real writer. I know it’s possible to self-publish and be even more successful financially but that’s not what I want to do. I want to be a best-selling author who polarized readers around the topic of love and relationships.

Spread the word!

    2 Comments

    1. kathryn ericksen
      December 2, 2018

      Holy Bananas, good on your book but for pete’s sakes go see a doctor!!! I’m sorry you live in the States and have to have that conflict with insurance/personal well-being. That’s an awful position to be in. (I’m Canadian btw). Take Care!

      Reply
    2. Mary Trujillo
      December 3, 2018

      So sorry to hear about your back — I hope you can get to a Dr soon. About the BOOK! Amazing! That is teerrrriiffiicc! Congrats, and I hope you get a badass agent that gets you a smashing book deal. And I total get your feelings about self-publishing – totally. Glad you are going for it, looks forward to buying and reading it!

      Reply