Breaking the fourth wall, I’d like to go ahead and introduce myself! My name is Clare McCallan and I’ve been interviewing the movers and makers that contribute to the Little Catholic Box for almost a year now. I write these wonderful men and women’s stories in hopes that it adds a personal touch to each box you receive. This time around, Erica asked me to write a little about myself, since she knows that I’m an avid runner.
What she doesn’t know though, is that I’ve had a nasty back injury for about a month now. I’ve been very private about it. Maybe this is a little cowardly, but I didn’t want to talk about it publicly until I knew how it was going to end. The pain was bad, sure. I mean, I’ve maybe had 3 or 4 full night’s sleep in the last month. But the worst part was wondering if one of the greatest parts of my life, exercise, was coming to an end. And so, in the weeks leading up to diagnosis and treatment, I spent my time in the most productive and healthy way possible: assuming the worst and thus, spiraling.
“God always takes writers young, doesn’t He?” I, the self-diagnosed martyr and widely recognized diva, lamented after another sleepless night. Well, God had no interest in taking me any time soon and in His great humor, decided to give me a most unusual answer right when I was on the verge of giving up. X-rays revealed that due to a chromosomal abnormality, I actually have an extra lumbar vertebra. In layman’s terms: I have just a little bit too much spine, and it’s causing everything to wiggle in a bad way. And that wiggle, that dastardly wiggle, is pushing on my nerves and causing a whole lot of pain.
The solution? Three chiropractic adjustments a week, for a month. I’m two weeks into treatment now, and the level of pain relief I’ve already experienced has brought me to tears multiple times. I think what’s making me even more emotional though, is knowing that in a month or so, I’ll be able to start exercising again. I am so grateful for the role that running and weight lifting have played in my physical and mental health. However, I’m acutely aware of how I ended up aggravating my back last month: over-exercise. And isn’t that just like the devil? To take something so good and sacred - so God-given - and tempt us to warp it into something unhealthy? Driven by a desperate need to “earn” approval from myself and others, I’ve struggled on and off with over-exercising for about 3 years now. While the subsequent injury may have initially felt like a punishment from God for abusing this body He gave me, I now understand it as a great mercy. He built a protection protocol, equipped with its own pain-centric alarm system, into my body to protect it from its greatest threat: my own insecurities.
This month of doctor-ordered rest has been excruciating. I had gotten used to exercising, hard, at twice a day. And no, you don’t have to remind me that that’s too much - the shooting pain in my spine reminds me daily. But I am so grateful for this time of rest, because it’s forced me to evaluate that gift that physical movement has been in my life, and the ways I need to honor that gift going forward. I guess before all of this, I thought the best (and only) way to honor my body was to squeeze every inch of energy and life out of it. Now, I’ve had a bit of a perspective shift. I think there may be kinder and smarter ways to thank God for this gift He has given me. I think it may have something to do with rest.
Getting to speak to this cohort of Little Catholic Box creators has been such an important part of my recovery. While my back is going to heal in its own sweet time, my conversations with this quarter’s women have done more than I could have imagined for the healing of my mindset and heart. I am so excited to share their wisdom and kindness with you in this blog.