Dear Body

Dear Body

I’m sorry that I hurt you by breaking our neck all those years ago.  I was young, with an arrogant attitude to life that I was invincible.  I didn’t appreciate your youthful beauty at the time, I know, but I’ve since learned many valuable lessons.  I know, now, that I have a duty to keep you healthy because you are the only one I can and will ever live in.

Believe it or not, I eventually grew to love you, despite being useless paralysed.

By the grace of God, with the love, care and support of my son, family, friends and community I managed to successfully rebuild a new, meaningful life with you.  And for that, I am grateful.

I know that you’re far smarter than I am and that is why I have tried to learn from you.  You have a wisdom which I lack.  I’ve tried my best to listen to you and, more importantly, understand you.  But, you gotta help me here a little bit more.  I’m at a loss.

I’ve been really worried about you.  I’ve felt you crying out for help with every fibre of your being. I know that I can’t feel the pain anymore.  But, I do understand that you still feel it and that it hurts like hell.  I knew with all our heart that you were in severe pain by the way you were suddenly acting.  You’ve taught me well.  I’ve learned to listen to you and I can recognize the signs of pain when you spasm or contract awkwardly.  I also know how dangerous autonomic dysreflexia can be.

So, I did the right thing.  Don’t you remember?  I took you off to the doctor – the smartest guy I know. 

Secretly, we rolled our eyes at his concerns of a possible bladder infection or bowel impaction.  But, we can forgive him, because he doesn’t know how intimately I know you and I trust that he always has our best interests at heart because of his thoroughness.  So, for the sake of peace of mind, we cooperated.

He immediately sent us for an abdominal x-ray, a sonar, urine tests and blood tests.  Yes, I know that we hate needles but, sometimes it’s necessary.  Our arm didn’t pull away too violently so it couldn’t have been that bad.  At least the nurse was friendly and I thought it was really nice of her to visit us at home.

He told us that there was some faecal loading in our bowel.  Well, we certainly didn’t need an x-ray to tell us that.  Besides, we are all-woman and it’s our prerogative to be full of shit sometimes.  Is it not?

So, I punished our poor tummy by drinking the most disgusting stuff in order to get rid of all the shit.  I think our taste buds are still recovering from the shock.  After excessive groaning, burping and farting, our bowels eventually emptied themselves much to the disgust of our oversensitive nasal passages.  I have to admit that I felt really sorry for my care assistant as it was rather foul.

While we are on that topic, I have to tell you that you often make me feel humiliated.  You burp and fart at the most inappropriate times.  Have you forgotten that we are a lady?

Anyway, the emptied bowels didn’t help.  Your right-hand side was still writhing around in pain, especially our right leg.  I was convinced that there was something wrong with our knee or hip.

Our physiotherapists couldn’t find anything unusual.  A friend sent her chiropractor over to check us out, and she couldn’t really find anything strange.  We even had photographs taken of our entire body to establish if there were any hotspots as a result of a buildup of heat energy due to the pain.  They didn’t even come up with a teeny-weeny, little hot spot.  Nevermind.  As far as we are concerned, we are hot, hot, HOT.  Yes, and oh-so-sexy.

Hey, I even took you off to that drop-dead-gorgeous ear doctor to relieve the pressure in our ear in the hopes of making you feel better.  I know our eyes enjoyed the visit.  The candy gave them a much-needed spin.  And as for our ears, well I think that they thought they had momentarily died and gone to heaven every time he touched them.  Oooh… it was good.

Flesh is so contradictory, isn’t it?  It goes on pleasuring and humiliating until the day we die.  It would be nice if we could focus more on the pleasurable side of things, if only you would do your bit and play along.

The spasms got so bad that we were now struggling to sit in the wheelchair without falling over.  You kept me awake night after night with your contortions.

You had me so worried.  I feared the worst.  I thought we’d gone and developed a syrinx in the spinal cord or something equally as terrifying.  We went back to the doctor and neurosurgeon.  We had a CT scan, a bone density scan as well as a cervical MRI.  I know that it was a little cold and uncomfortable for you but it was bloody scary for me.  After a nerve-racking wait for the results, they came up with nothing.  I was relieved.  But so, so, so frustrated.

We put you onto some special drugs to prevent spasms, which I hate, but anything to get you back to normal.  They didn’t help.  And I was getting desperate.

I took you halfway across the country, at great expense, to specialist doctors at a spinal unit where they told me, after many more tests and an isotopes bone scan that our trochanter (upper femur) had a stress fracture.  The doctor wanted to know what I had been doing to you to break our bones.  I can’t share all our secrets now, can I?

I know that I was extremely joyous at the news.  It wasn’t that I was celebrating your pain and injury.  It was just that I was relieved to finally have an answer so that we could treat you and get you all better.  So, after a week in hospital, we went home.  Doctor’ s orders were to take it easy and I was to make sure we take all the medication.  No more swinging from the chandeliers either.  You sure know how to spoil a girl’s fun, don’t you?

I was very good about taking the medication and I treated you really well.  Our poor tummy ended up with an ulcer because of all the anti-inflammatories and pain medication.  I had to do something as it was becoming unbearable and your behaviour was getting out of hand.

You must still have some sort of charm about you because you managed to get my doctor, the orthopedic surgeon and his lovely wife, who happens to be my friend, to do an after-hours housecall.

So, back we went for another full MRI scan and CT scan.  Now they are not even sure if your leg was ever broken in the first place.  That’s nice.  How do you think I feel?  Well, let me tell you.  Like a complete idiot.

As a last-ditch attempt, the physiotherapists have agreed to see me everyday for the next two weeks to see if their intensive treatments and acupuncture will make a difference.  At this stage, I think my physio’s are the only ones who still want anything to do with us.  But, don’t push your luck.

The doctors are at a complete loss.  My medical aid is depleted.  I have stopped all the medication which seemed to be doing us more harm than good.  I have done everything within my power to try and help you. 

Three months on and you are still behaving just as badly, preventing me from having any sort of life at all, keeping me housebound.  Is this really necessary?  Don’t you remember that we are social beings and need to see other people?  Do you care that I’m feeling lonely?

I feel as if I am constantly at war with you.  I don’t want to be mean but, you’re holding me back, confining me and, quite honestly, irritating the hell out of me.

You’re humiliating me and making me feel awkward and insecure.  I worked so hard to rebuild my self-esteem, self-worth and self confidence and you are compromising that at the moment with your bad behaviour.

I know that you don’t agree with me, but, walking is really overrated.  Seriously.  All I want is to be able to sit in my wheelchair without making a complete freak show of myself.  Is this too much to ask?

I take full responsibility for turning you into a quadriplegic and for that I have apologised over and over again.  Who knew you would be so unforgiving.  And relentless.  Is this your revenge?  I probably deserve it but will I ever get a break?

I feel like screaming at the top of our lungs: Hey, Universe, when is it my turn? 

So, Body what exactly do you want me to do now?

About Tracy Todd (Brave Lotus Flower)

Author of Brave Lotus Flower Rides the Dragon – an intimate and inspiring memoir of a quadriplegic. Inspirational Speaker. Teacher. Counsellor. Wife. Mother. Animal lover. Although I need a wheelchair to get around, it is most certainly not what defines me.
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44 Responses to Dear Body

  1. I think you see me, I like this 13econ1126, It’s a nice post. May be u can go this way follow us.

  2. Bette says:

    Hi Tracy,
    I just found your blog through a link on my friend Tracy’s website. My friend became a quadripalegic on Sept 4 while riding a bike and training for a race.
    I’ve been reading several posts of yours and I am in awe of you. You are a beautiful writer.
    I hope your body has been behaving better for you as of late.

    • Luyanda says:

      Hey Miss Tracey, Uhm_Im 14 Years Old, Turning 15 this Month. 🙂

      I know u posted this looooooong time ago, but then today, I attended an award ceremony where you were a guest speaker, ii must say, (It wasn’t my first time listening to you, I was first touched by your story in 2011, in an honours evening held at Nelspruit Primary) as I was saying :), today felt as though u we’re talking to me.
      Your words inspired me and that’s why I googled you so I can read your blog and in some way, get to know your precious self!

      You write beautifully and I never get bored reading your blogs. You are a true inspiration and role model. I believe you changed my way of thinking about life.
      I promise you, because of you and your magnificent words, I am never, ever again taking anything or anyone for granted.

      I ask that u continue writing and inspiring more souls out there.
      Its been a real privilege reading about you .You are one of the strongest women on Earth.,you simply amazing!

      And, please don’t get mad at the body, its trying just as much as you are! :p

      You and Your family will forever be in my prayers. May our heavenly father, God bless you!


  3. Tracy, this moves me so deeply. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing it, and bringing my attention to at FB, too. I feel so reverent. Would you like me to post it to the “Dear Bodies” page at Trust Tending as well?

    • Tracy Todd says:

      Hi Kristin

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog and for making the effort to leave a comment. I would love for you to post my letter to my body on your page. I would really appreciate it. I discovered your blog by chance for the first time yesterday and your writing is really moving. I’ll definitely be back. Often

  4. Julia says:

    You are inspiring and your writing is beautiful. So sorry that your body hasn’t been behaving of late. I do hope that a solution will be found soon.

  5. Cat says:

    Tracy, I am so sorry you are suffering lately. I’ve been so bad about keeping up with other blogs, but I always try to stop by because you inspire me so much. You’ve been able to conquer the most amazing odds thus far, and I know you’ll be able to pull through once again. I can only hope that when I grow up, I’ll have half of the determination and beauty as you. Stay strong.

    • Tracy Todd says:

      Cat, thank you for your kind words. So glad you are able to find some inspiration in what I write. It makes it all so much more worthwhile then, doesn’t it?
      I hope you are well? Think of you often. Lots of love to you 🙂

  6. Esther Irish says:

    Hi! I found you on Robin’s blog. You’re story is amazing, even what little I’ve read so far.

  7. Pingback: Dear Body « Rambling with a cantankerous old mule

  8. Tracy, I don’t have the words to respond to this powerful piece so I will just say thank you for sharing your story. I sincerely hope that you and your body are getting on terms once again.

  9. Daleen Fourie says:

    Regtig jammer om te hoor van jou gesondheidsprobleme. Dis net vir my wonderlik dat jou liggaam steeds maniere vind om jou te laat weet “all is not well”. Sterkte,Daleen Fourie.(Ek het saam met Bessie na jou huis toe gegaan die aand toe sy bietjie emosioneel ontsteld was)

    • Tracy Todd says:

      Thank you, Daleen. I have learned that the human body, although exceptionally complex in its workings and often misunderstood by experts, is our most valuable possession. 🙂

      PS. Forgive me for answering you in English but unfortunately my voice program is unable to operate in Afrikaans.

      • Daleen Fourie says:

        Language doesn’t make a differance. Are you feeling any better? Please give my regards to your caretakers….they were so considerate and helpfull when we “visited” you that evening.

  10. Carl Muller says:

    Hi Tracy,

    what story. I have been blessed by them. Saturday I met another amazing guy. He jump out of an aeroplane some years ago and his parachute did not open. He just prayed to God and before he hit the ground a side wind came. He broke about every bone in his body and spend about a year in hospital.
    He said to me, Carl, how can I not believe in God after that.
    Wow, the same with you.

    Your stories encourage me a lot.
    God bless you!

  11. Tracy, you are the most remarkable woman and I am in awe of your unbreakable spirit! Your candidness gives me a much clearer insight into my husbands son’s quadriplegia, thank you.
    🙂 Mandy

  12. Well darling,….you really have given that body of yours a good serve.!!! Hopefully the two of you will now reach a compromise to the conflict you’ve been having. We all pray that the limbs are more in control of themselves and that they ask the brain very politely to forgive them for their misbehaviour! Keep up the great satire and enlightening stories – hopefully your prayers will be answered. Big Hugs,,xxxxx

  13. souldipper says:

    Tracy, the incredible insights you share! What a teacher you are – with your willingness to open yourself and lay your experience before us. I’m in awe. It makes me wonder if you see the power and strength of your contribution. Those of us who would have no other way to understand are given first hand information that turns on the tap of empathy and compassion. It gushes for me, Trace.

    If there is anything I can do to support you, may it be that you know this whole experience has purpose. When I was flying through the air in my vehicle, in those seconds that I knew that the car would land and roll down one helluva steep incline, in that moment of surrender to death, I was not given a promise of life. I was not given a promise of health, happiness, love, support or anything. Instead I was given a very clear message. Right after I thought, “Well, now I’ll know. I’m going to God.”, words were “spoken” – a voice with no gender but jam-packed with Love.

    It told me that I don’t go anywhere to be with God. God is and always has been all around me – I swim in God. I eat God. I breathe God.

    I fainted which probably saved my life. I crawled out of a much flattened car and ended up with one bruise on the top of my hand.

    Why? So I could share this with you, Trace. Every moment that you live, you are serving a magnificent purpose. These are trite words. It is a promise. It isn’t coming from me. It’s from a Power much beyond anything either of us can imagine.

    Keep writing and giving us “mortals” the spiritual experience of seeing into your heart and soul.

    We need you, Tracy.

    • Tracy Todd says:

      Thank you for your lovely comment. You make my heart burst with pride by saying that I had the ability to teach you something. I’m a born teacher. That’s what I did before my accident and it’s a comforting to know that I can continue to teach — albeit in a different way now.

      We need each other to cope with all the challenges in this nasty world of ours.

  14. Deborah says:

    So glad to see you posting again.x

  15. Dorothy-Anne says:

    Oh Tracy, now I know why you have been so quiet. I am so sorry. Although we don’t always understand, but by God’s grace we cope day by day; sometimes just hour by hour.

    • Tracy Todd says:

      Thank you, Dorothy-Anne. I know that you can relate to many of the same challenges and it brings me comfort to know that I’m not alone. Much love to you.

  16. Tracy,

    I don’t know you but you have drawn me in with your writing. There is power for you and for readers in all that you express. It is hard for though of us who are not moving through your specific life and brand of pain to understand everything but I want to send you good thoughts, admiration and respect, as well as hopes that things will improve for you, though I know your challenges won’t just go away. My first husband had MS and was tripalegic. Life was often so hard for him and tough for me, though not nearly as much as for him. We didn’t have blogs in those days and I wish we did. He could have used such an outlet to be able to express what was frequently bottled up and on his heart and mind, as well as a way to make new friends and to expand his circle of contacts.

    I wish you better days ahead.

    • Tracy Todd says:

      I really appreciate your kind words and good wishes. Thank you.

      Your life was touched and forever changed by being married to a man with a disability. You now have the ability to not only see differently but to look differently.

      I must admit, that I don’t know what I would do without my blog and the interactions from my readers. It really makes a huge difference to my day.

  17. Ronna says:

    There just aren’t words, Tracy, to convey what I feel when I read this; but even more, to convey even the smallest level of understanding or sympathy in comparison to the hell only you know.

    As I read I kept thinking about pre-modern civilizations. Unlike us, they did not separate mind from body, head from heart, “real” from mystical. They lived in ways that were fluid, simpler, not disjointed or disconnected, and with no need or demand to make sense of their world. Though I would not want for all of this, there is much within that calls to me, particularly the ability to see and experience the “unknown” on the same plane as our taken-for-granted, day-to-day life; this merging of the practical and the spiritual or sacred.

    You, woman, are forced to live in this world whether you like it or not. You do not get to disconnect your thoughts from your body; to objectively consider information without knowing and feeling its impact (or lack thereof) on the rest of your existence. Unanswerable questions that haunt. Unfathomable emotional pain that pales in comparison to the lack of physical pain.

    And I don’t begin to know even the slightest depth of this. Still, you invite me there. You choose to make yourself even more vulnerable than you already are. You open up your heart and let me in.

    In the mystical world, you would be strong, dauntless, an entity-to-be-feared, courageous, and one from whom others’ could only hope advocacy, mercy, and aid. A saint. A goddess. A constellation. A warrior. A legend.

    Though this is not not the world you experience on a daily basis, it’s the one you create for the rest of us; for me. I’m sobered by your beauty. In awe. And infuriated by the levels of injustice you know.

    May saints, gods, goddesses, constellations, mythic warriors, and legends come to your aid, sit at your feet, and worship you. I do.

    • Tracy Todd says:

      Thank you for your lovely comment, Ronna.

      I often feel so out of place in this world of ours which is specifically designed for able-bodied people. I love the idea of being a part of the mystical world you speak of. Thank you. 🙂

  18. Hi Tracy,

    It really sounds as though you have been taking strain. I’ve been trying to think of something to say in response which is not trite & generally meaningless but the best I can come up with is to say that you have friends who care about you even though we are even more helpless than you to do anything about your situation. Hugs & strongs.

  19. Oh – forgot to say that care givers become habituated to smells. After only a couple of months, I would smell it and just react internally like “ok, better see to that”. There’s less distress on our part than on the part of those who produce the substances. It’s no different than when you first took care of Chad. Really.

    • Tracy Todd says:

      I know, Michael. I guess, you just get some special people in this world who are willing to take care of people when they cannot do it for themselves. I thank God every day for bringing Angels like that into my life.
      We are strange, us humans. We are the only species that insists on covering up our bodies and hiding ourselves when we do something as natural as excretion. 🙂

  20. I missed you so much, Tracy! Femurs are one of our largest repositories of marrow, the factories where leucocytes are made. A fracture there causes one of the largest inflammatory responses a body can produce. (I guess by now I understand you don’t do anything in half-measures.) I’m glad you were able to get it down here to let us know what was up. I was worried. Your state of well-being is important to me, as odd as that sounds from the other side of the planet…

  21. charmaine Manicom says:

    Some painful insights, but I hope your sense of humour carries you, and your determination brings you out of this soon.

    • Tracy Todd says:

      Thank you, Charmaine. I know the value of a good sense of humour. Laughing is so good for the soul. I’ll work hard on maintaining that but it’s not always so easy. 🙂

  22. Heidi says:

    Oh Trace once again a superb blog. You had me rolling with laughter, in fits of giggles & tears streaming down my face! Good one girl xxx

  23. Anton says:

    OUCH… I really hope you and your body get in sync again soon! It seems you’ve tried everything except for a songoma!

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