Thursday, April 14, 2011

Backing the backbone

When I first heard the word osteoporosis, I was sitting with my doctor and staring at my BMD and MRI scan reports. The films clipped onto a board on the wall lit up a picture which wasn’t too bright. My reluctant affair with a raging disease had begun and it was to be more than a bony affair. I knew how important my skeletal structure was, but now I learnt how bones could lose mass, and how just having a skeleton wasn’t going to keep you up; You had to feed it and care for it in the right way. Hollow structures didn’t hold up anything.

All of a sudden little gestures and movements that I had taken for granted became restricted. Those that weren’t had to be executed with utmost care. Nonetheless, I managed to rupture discs, or in the least cause a tear, which would put me in bed with excruciating pain in both my body and my mind. The ordinary task of walking became a feat; the rest and peace one hoped for through sleep was missing; pain had become a way of life for me and I learned to bear it with mental strength rather than stuff myself with pain-killers. My conversation was dotted with L1, L2,L3,L4,L5 and C2, C3, C4, C5 and bulging discs and my life was reduced to redundancy within the four walls of my home. It was harder for the mind to accept this than for the body to deal with it. As I said earlier, it was more than a bony affair, it became a lesson in fortification: of the spirit, of determination, of the will to overcome. What was hardest of all was the way people looked at me. I saw a whole gamut of emotions written on people’s faces from pity, dismissal, underestimation and impatience to the general disgust few people have for those with some form of disability. That is when I got the biggest lesson of my life. A strong spiritual backbone keeps us erect while we are bent in half physically. So it needs to be developed too.

Our spiritual backbone needs our attention . Just as we need to fortify our bones with the right nutrition and exercise, we have to feed on spiritual food too and constantly exercise our faith. Faith and prayer constitute the spiritual backbone.

There are many who are actually bent in half spiritually even as they stand erect physically.

I think many of us exercise and strengthen our wishbones more than our backbones. When I was a child I loved getting the chicken 'wishbone', which I would break with one of my siblings hoping I would get the wish! Well since then I too have had my share of wishing on a bone. Zoom to the present and I'm hanging on a wing and a prayer. I am glad that I had the gumption to refurbish and restore my faith thus building up a back-up for my weakening bony structure. All my battles whether related to health or any aspect of life, have been won through my mind and spirit; my spiritual backbone. Whether I lay in bed nursing a ruptured disc or hobbled along painfully, I always stood tall inside.

As Joyce loves to say, “We need backbones not wishbones.”

It's been over three years since that day in the doctor's room. There have been ups and downs but I'm glad to report that I am responding well to treatment and can walk and do quite a few things I wasn't able to do earlier. I understand I will never be able to do many things and that my condition is not totally curable. Medical interventions will aid me and reverse conditions a bit, but eventually the aging process will determine the final outcome. Each day is unpredictable. It could be great for days and then one small movement can go awry. Thank God for another backbone!



  1. "That is when I got the biggest lesson of my life. A strong spiritual backbone keeps us erect while we are bent in half physically. So it needs to be developed too" So well said Khushi. "A strong spiritual backbone" helps us gain from the pain! As Rumi said - light enters through wounds. Deeply appreciated

  2. Thank you Raj! As the saying goes...No pain, no gain. I like Rumi's words...Light enters through wounds! Awesome...

  3. Joy, I had no idea you suffer so much. I'm really sorry you have to do so and I'm really sorry you have to read about my petty complaints. I'll be mindful of that in future as I've no real grounds to be complaining.

    I like that quote too...light enters through wounds. Who is Rumi?

    I hope you have a good week...I really do.

  4. Ken, thank you...but please don't be sorry for letting off steam. We all need to get some things out of our system. I am so much better now, and do not live in the constant pain I used to these past years. I can walk well and upright and sit up so that I can work and do some daily chores! I have learned to appreciate the little joys of life.

    About Rumi:

    Rumi (30 September 1207 – 17 December 1273), was a 13th-century Persian Muslim poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic. Rūmī is a descriptive name meaning "the Roman" since he lived most of his life in an area called Rūm (then under the control of Seljuq dynasty) because it was once ruled by the Eastern Roman Empire.
    He lived most of his life under the Sultanate of Rum, where he produced his works and died in 1273 AD. He was buried in Konya and his shrine became a place of pilgrimage. Following his death, his followers and his son Sultan Walad founded the Mawlawīyah Sufi Order, also known as the Order of the Whirling Dervishes, famous for its Sufi dance known as the sama ceremony.
    Rumi's works are written in the New Persian language. Rumi's importance is considered to transcend national and ethnic borders. His original works are widely read in their original language across the Persian-speaking world. Translations of his works are very popular in other countries. His poems have been widely translated into many of the world's languages and transposed into various formats. In 2007, he was described as the "most popular poet in America."

  5. Perhaps I should appreciate the little things more.
    Now I've been educated, too.
    Thank you Joy.

  6. You are such a gracious upbeat lady, I had no idea you were struggling with pain. I appreciate your sharing this. I understand pain and you have inspired me to write about my recent bout with it. Love ya Joy <3

  7. Hi Maxie...thanks for your gracious comment. I would love to read your article, as I can only make a guess about how much pain you have dealt with too. Luv ya too!

  8. Hi, I don't know what happened to the post I did for this blog but it is not here. I am sorry you have so much going on in your life healthwise. I did miss you and really enjoy reading your blog. It is my way of getting to learn about another culture that I will probably never get to visit. I also would like to make a painting or mixed media piece for you. If you would like to contact me with a subject that would interest you and your address I would be honored to create something for you. I can be contacted through my profile on my blog. Take care my friend.

  9. Hello Marlene! I've missed you too. OMG, you would do a painting for me! I am honoured. I don't know what to say, I am so ecstatic! I will contact you. :)))