In the last week, I have watched my wonderfully strong and always healthy husband turn into a nervous and scared little boy. He is my world and has been incredibly supportive in my own struggles with complex trauma and anxiety over the years.
Unfortunately he found out that he has what is known as a disk protrusion or slipped disk. Before this was actually diagnosed after an MRI scan last Tuesday, he had injured himself whilst at the gym in New York. He said that he pulled a muscle in his lower back after weight training. This slowly got better after 2 weeks but was still tender when he made certain movements.
On Monday last week he bent over to get something from his desk at work and felt pain again in his lower back and a slight popping sound. After an hour or so, he was hit with a sudden wave of anxiety which he felt through his whole body including the awful need to go to the toilet.
For a man who has always been healthy and never really had anxiety, this was truly a horrible experience. He usually comes home around 5:30pm from work and I start cooking dinner a little earlier..Around 4:15pm I started preparing the dinner and he arrived home with a sad look on his face.
He told me what happened and I gave him a big hug. I told him that he is obviously very concerned about his lower back and this is also affecting him psychologically. That same evening, he asked me if I would go with him to the emergency doctor as he was starting to feel numbness in his left leg. I told him that this could also be from his anxiety but we went to the doctor anyway, just in case. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
The doctor arranged an MRI for him and all was revealed. The lowest disk in his spine had a slight protrusion, which was most likely touching a nerve on the left side, which is why he had numbness in his left thigh.
The doctor advised him to take it easy, maybe take some days off work and work from home. Sitting was uncomfortable and putting more strain on his protruded disk, so at least at home he could lie down, whilst still working on the laptop.
We both feel happy to have caught this early before the problem got much worse but unfortunately my husband is now riddled with anxiety and finds it too overwhelming going to crowded places, as he is worried he will feel anxious again and need the toilet. One of the symptoms of a protruded disk in the lower spine is the need for a bowel movement. In my husband’s case however, I think this is mostly his anxiety about everything as it hits him when we are out and about. As many of you anxiety sufferers know, when you first start feeling anxious and are out in public, you just want to go to the nearest toilet or get home as quickly as possible. Anxiety affects our bodies in peculiar ways and unfortunately one of the uncomfortable symptoms is nausea or the need for a bowel movement.
I am currently doing my best to support my husband and been looking after him very well. He has been so worried and feels very vulnerable as we don’t have other family around that can truly support us, if his health gets worse. I am not currently working as we are living abroad and I don’t speak the language and he is terrified he won’t be able to work and we will lose our home. I keep telling him that no matter what happens, we will find a way to cope. We are supposed to be moving back to the UK anyway next year so I can start my MA and also start work again, so then he will hopefully feel better. He feels a lot of pressure as I am relying on him financially at the moment, but I truly believe that if things do actually get worse, then I will get a job and move home.
For the last week, he keeps telling me he loves me and that I am being incredibly supportive whilst at the same time saying that he ‘hopes I don’t leave him if he gets worse’..He has never said that to me before..I have always been the one terrified of abandonment due to my family background..Now I am watching my vulnerable husband struggle so much, and I wish I could make it all better for him..
When we are at our most vulnerable, we all need support and extra love..I guess my husband isn’t used to being so vulnerable. I love him all the same however and I hope that he finds a way to handle his fear of worsening health..