Matt, I feel as though I’m reliving your journey. I remember so clearly your phone call. “Mom, I was lifting an engine and I felt something in my back pop. The pain is horrible. I can barely walk.” Little did I know that almost 5 years later I would be reliving your experience.
The similarities are mind boggling. You lifted an engine, I lifted a stuck window. As soon as I felt the pop and felt that searing pain shoot down my leg I thought of you. They say you can never understand what someone goes through until you go through it yourself. I am a living testimony to that truth.
Looking back I wish I had known how life altering your pain was. I never thought it was as horrible as you described. Living with your pain, I now feel so ashamed that I lacked compassion for your pain. All I saw was your addiction to the opioids. Your addiction became my focus. Your pain was a secondary concern.
Now I get it. I’m facing the same surgery you survived. I’m facing trying to find a happy medium to this pain that has become a part of my life and a reminder of how you suffered. I’m facing the possibility of becoming addicted as you did after back surgery. I think back to how your life was affected and I’m terrified that I will become you.
Thursday I will be the patient. I will be you. I will be in the OR not the waiting room watching your name flip through the different phases of your surgery. I remember scanning that board every few minutes searching for where you were in the process. I remember walking next to your stretcher to those OR doors and giving you a kiss for luck. Promising I would be there when you woke. Promising to pray for a successful surgery.
So now I’ll be the name Ray and Mike will be following through the OR process. I will be the one with the surgical scar on my back exactly like yours. I remember seeing your scar and feeling chills come over my body. I remember thinking how brave you were to have gone through what you did, never thinking that almost 5 years after your death your scar would be on my body.
We have always had this unexplainable connection. You and I so much alike. Now, even though you are no longer here, I will be retracing your journey. Feeling your anxiety as you waited for surgery. Understanding your pain as it is now my own.
I pray that I will feel your presence. That somehow, someway just for a brief moment I will know you are there. I pray that neither time nor space will break our connection. I pray that you have forgiven me for not understanding your pain………