Thanking My Lucky Stars

Jessica & Dylan
Mom & baby, February 2010

Yesterday was the 5-month anniversary of the day I broke my back. I celebrated by picking up my baby and snuggling him, picking up my dog and snuggling him, and snuggling my husband (he’s too heavy to pick up). And, of course, I also spent some time thanking my lucky stars that I was not hurt worse and that I will make a full recovery, even if it takes a while. Breaking your back sucks, but I am still feeling incredibly grateful that my injury was not worse and that I can rely on my extensive knowledge of nutrition, anatomy, and fitness to help me recover.

I still have a few weeks of physical therapy, but I have been released from the care of the neurosurgeon so I am pretty much on my own for managing my recovery now. Honestly, I have felt like that since the beginning anyway. While the professionals are useful and helpful, how well and how quickly I heal is mostly dependent upon me. Most mornings I am up at 5:00 AM to do physical therapy, trigger point therapy, and myofascial release before Dylan gets up. Then throughout my day I try to fit in stretches or a little foam rolling while I play with Dylan and take care of the house. I also am careful how I move, and I try to avoid carrying Dylan around on my hip too much because it exacerbates my back pain and really throws my whole body out of whack. I also try to be sure I eat well (I always eat very high-quality food, but tend to not eat enough), drink enough water, take my supplements (the usual suspects plus extra calcium and vitamin D to support the bone healing process), and of course, get enough sleep. Most days I am not able to do all of the things I need to do to really take excellent care of myself, but I try, and what’s more important, I try to not stress or beat myself up if I don’t succeed.

Healing from a major injury feels like a full-time job in and of itself, so I try to stay realistic about my progress and the timeline for full recovery. My current expectation is to be back to my full strength and flexibility at 1 year out from the injury, but I am continually reminded by doctors, massage therapists, and physical therapists that 2 years is probably more realistic because soft tissue heals very slowly and I have a lot of soft tissue damage in the area around the break. The professionals are also telling me I should probably give up on ever running again because my L-1 vertebra is permanently lopsided from the break, and the pounding of running could cause problems with my facet joints (and thus entire body!) over time. But I have not given up hope yet! I would love to be able return to trail running with Cooper, one of my all-time favorite activities. So, we will see how things go. For now I’m focused on caring for myself as tenderly as possible, both physically and emotionally, and staying in the present moment rather than getting too far ahead of myself. It’s a very amazing thing to have something almost-really-horrible happen to you, you get a whole new perspective on things. So, even though the back breakage has derailed some plans, I am feeling really good about the outcome so far, and know that things will only continue to improve as time goes on.


  • It is amazing that you are doing so well and that your outlook is wonderful. I am so proud of you Jessica!

  • I, too, am thankful your injury wasn’t worse and that you seem to be healing well. I think just keeping up with D and C will give you (anyone, actually) all the “running” exercise you’ll ever need.

    And I just love this picture of you guys!

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