One year on since I broke my spine – Sinead’s story of recovery

July 17th 2019 is a date that I don’t think I’ll ever let myself forget. The trauma of the accident, how close I came to lasting damage, the reality of losing my ability to take care of myself…all of it was a lot to process, a lot to face up to.

If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, last year I was in an accident where my motorbike and I collided with a van at enough speed to send me flying and break my spine. You can read about the accident here. I wrote it in the few days following the accident, when I read it back just today I noticed how raw and emotional I must have felt when writing it. It’s obvious I’m trying to stay positive, but breaking my spine and almost losing my independence forever was a big deal for me, and I think it shows.

I would first like to say that I feel EXTREMELY grateful for a lot of things. I feel so grateful that the break wasn’t bad enough that I would require assistance for the rest of my life in some form or another. I also feel deeply inspired for the bravery shown by anyone who has been through a life changing event, I think if it had been worse for me, I’m not sure I would have the strength to be as courageous. I feel hugely grateful for the NHS, for my husband, family, friends, my career, yogafurie members my cat who has since passed, Yoga and Hot Yoga (all of these factors had a helping hand in my recovery).

I broke my L1 and T11 vertebrae. The first two weeks I couldn’t do a thing. I couldn’t walk without a back brace and crutches, I couldn’t make a cup of tea for myself, run a bath, make lunch or dinner. I needed someone, I needed my husband. And being someone who feels most comfortable when independent, this was difficult for my mental health.

Then healing took a new phase and I could leave the flat for a 5 minute walk, still with my back brace but I was eager to ditch the crutches. I started making simple meals. I started trying physical Yoga practice once more! *Disclaimer – it was the most basic of movements with absolutely no need for spinal movement or core strength, strictly hamstrings and shoulders*.

After 5 weeks I came along to assist on Teacher Training. I spent a lot of time lying down, but I decided I was ready to ditch my back brace. I felt it was okay due to the years I have spent listening to my body and it felt right for me. However when I had my 6 week check up, the Doctor was ruffled that I wasn’t using my back brace, so please do bear in mind that I was often going against medical advice and I wouldn’t necessarily advise anyone try to rush their recovery simply because that’s the route I chose. I would always advise a listening ear to your body and go at that pace (although I was definitely imperfectly human and rushed my recovery). By the seventh week I was back mindfully practicing Hot Yoga and teaching classes, without offering demonstrations of postures.

Then recovery was gradual, it came along piece by piece. Although things did still hurt. Cycling to and from Yogafurie studio caused a soreness in my spine alongside huge spikes of fear and anxiety being on the roads and vulnerable once more. I also caught myself out by teaching too much, or demonstrating the odd posture whilst not warmed up well but I learned from those lessons quick!

In February I decided to brave a snowboarding holiday. I was so nervous about taking a bad tumble, or overdoing it somehow. My back still ached whenever I cycled to Yogafurie studio, so how would it not ache when spending hours on end snowboarding?

This holiday had profound healing effects on my spine. I believe it was psychosomatic. For me, to get out there and learn that I can still enjoy myself (perhaps more carefully than before), made a huge difference. When I returned, my cycles to and from the studio didn’t hurt any more…!

So what was it that helped me to heal so well? I was given the impression that once you break, you never really go back to 100%. And I believe that to some extent. I’m sure an x-ray would still show a sad looking L1 vertebrae. But how come I have no pain? How come I’m back to a healthy spine?

Want to know what I think?

Lifestyle.

For me, lifestyle blummin’ well did it!! Not just one, but lots of factors combined together. And below I’ll mention the big few!

My work requires that I’m fit and healthy, everyone within Yogafurie understood that. All teachers pitched in to cover for the entirety of my time off (and I teach a fair few classes weekly). Ed (Director and Dad) encouraged me to rest as much as I could. Yogafurie even contributed towards me getting weekly Rolfing sessions. So my work environment was VERY supportive in my recovery, and I know if I still worked in any of my previous office based jobs, the type of compassion and care couldn’t have been the same.

My husband, my family, my friends, the kind gifts and messages from Yogafurie members. The outpouring of love, concern, support and understanding was overwhelmingly kind. I learned that us humans are wonderfully healing beings!

Nutrition! I believe anyone can greatly affect their chances of healing by simply opting for fresh and healthy food.

Then the final big piece of the puzzle…you guessed it…Yoga & Hot Yoga! I won’t explain any science behind it here, however I did write my own piece about research into why I was healing so well and how much heat and Hot Yoga was a part of it in this blog.

Moving our bodies in healing, nourishing ways helps us to heal! I’m very fortunate that at Yogafurie we encourage mindful movement and listening to how your body responds. This meant I could get back to Hot Yoga classes just 7 weeks following breaking my spine and move in ways that encouraged healing and sped up my recovery process.

In the warmth of the room (and therefore with a warm body) I was rebuilding my core, gently introducing spinal movements and encouraging support from other parts of my body. All I can think is what a miracle Hot Yoga has been before, during and after recovery! and I encourage you to join a Hot Yoga studio that offers you time, space and knowledge to dive into the individuality of your body, how it moves and responds, so that you can promote optimum health, strength, flexibility, vitality and healing!

Almost a year since the accident and I feel fortunate in so many ways. Thank you for reading my story since, I hope it offers inspiration that we can all can take charge of our health, wellness and vitality and aim for the best outcome. Often it works out!

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