Short letter, long words

I had an MRI a few weeks back to help figure out what is causing my pain. This week, I received a very short letter with the results.

It was full of long words I didn’t understand. Words I wasn’t expecting. Scary words: disc protrusion, stenosis, foraminal narrowing. The second paragraph talked about pain, and a referral to a spine specialist if it gets worse.

And that was it. No potential reason, no explanation. Certainly nothing hopeful. All I could take from it was: we’ve found something wrong, and we know it’s painful.

So I turned to Google. Which scared me even more. It told me I have two bulging discs and slightly narrowed space for my spinal cord, one in my neck, one in my lower back. Plus narrowed space for a nerve in my lower back. Yes, I can see why that would hurt. I stopped reading when I saw potential complications and the worst case scenario.

I have cried a lot over the last couple of days. I’m confused, upset, worried, angry, scared. Confused, because I don’t know why this has happened, or if it can be treated. Is this my fault? Did I cause this with my eating disorder behaviours? Upset because I really didn’t want to be right about there being something seriously wrong with me. I was hoping the shoulder and hip impingements were it. Worried that there’s nothing that can be done to help me, that I won’t ever get any better. Angry because I now know how monumentally my last rheumatologist screwed up, leaving my condition misdiagnosed and getting worse for two years. And scared because – nerves and spinal cord!

Yet there are so many positives. I finally know this isn’t in my head. I finally know more about what is wrong with me. I can start to come to terms with the ways this pain has changed my life. I might have some sort of prognosis soon. I can ask for support to keep my symptoms to a minimum. I’ll be able to stop living in limbo and finally start to plan again.

And there’s another important lesson this week has taught me: how far I’ve come in my eating disorder recovery. All these emotions, and I’ve just let myself feel them. I haven’t binged once. Not because I’ve been battling the urge to, because the urge hasn’t really been strong enough to warrant a battle. There is no doubt in my mind that this would have thrown me into a cycle of bingeing and restriction before, yet here I’ve been, eating three meals a day, almost as if I’d never had an ED.

I know this doesn’t mean full recovery yet, but it has given me hope that I’ll get there sometime soon. No matter what happens with my physical health.

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