Hi! My name is Susan Early, the creator of a WHIMSPUN life. I have played with words and claimed the name of writer since I wrote lyrics to original three chord guitar songs I played through my youth. Come to think of it, writing is perhaps the most contiguous thread in my patchwork quilt of a life. I (not unlike a certain Indigo Girls lyrics), studied the workings of the mind with hopes of making it a fine vocation. Ironically, I am sure I paid more for the service of these PhD's than I ever earned; another story altogether. Sobriety in my mid thirties is the second longest string of my tale, and undoubtedly the thread which holds the others in place. I enjoyed a diversity of jobs as a 'social worker', finding I had a ready empathy with folks down on their luck. Eventually I also discovered these positions were hard on my heart and I veered toward administrative positions. I married and I have two remarkable sons who are still quite young for a mother of fifty. Life has given me so much more than I had the good sense to dream up in my youth. I know that in my heart.
I had my first spine surgery on my lower back when I was 20. Second, again low back at age 40. For a number of years before this second surgery my low back could 'go out' in a nanosecond, for little reason. Medrol packs and a few days of ice and bedrest became staples, then band-aids. I had a consult when a marked flair up while pregnant left me mostly immobile. He suggested, though my lower back showed signs of marked impairment, that my cervical spine was his primary concern, seeing signs of myelopathy. He told me to return after my pregnancy. My pain gradually decreased and after the birth of my son I felt I had more pressing matters. A year and a half after Jack's birth my lower back again required surgery. The previous concern with my cervical spine was misplaced. The four years between my second and third lower back surgeries were a series of flare-ups and ice downs, barely managed by cautious prevention. Though I simultaneously experienced neck and arm symptoms with lumbar symptoms previous to my third low back surgery, the extensive damage in my lumbar spine was deemed most urgent. I underwent a several level lumbar laminectomy which resulted in little benefit. The ominous Failed Lower Back Syndrome diagnosis was given to me by a succession of respected spine surgeons.
The neck and arm pain which had gone untreated was reassessed as one of these second opinions was with the doctor who had 8 years earlier suspected my cervical spine was at risk. Diagnostics confirmed cervical myelopathy. I learned neck surgery was necessary as a preventive rather than corrective measure; the cervical cord already showed signs of damage which were not readily corrected by relieving the pressure. Critical was the need to prevent further damage as I had increasingly been experiencing significant pain, hyper-reflexes, and spasticity in my neck, trunk and legs, as well as severe cervical headaches. Three years after the difficult third lower back surgery, I underwent the most significant surgery to date, a multilevel cervical corpectomy. Surgery confirmed my cervical spine had been 'squished'. The recovery time of this surgery was slow and painful; much of the pain and spasticity I experienced before the surgery remains today.
It is difficult to pinpoint when I came to see myself as 'disabled'. I held hope to improve for much of this time, and even today I find myself 'willing' my body to perform better. More often I find myself forgetting; not forgetting my condition, but rather losing gains in acceptance I had incorporated into my sense of self. Acceptance is a turtle I either am riding on triumphantly, falling off, or trailing in the fog. The fog is an infinitely better place to lag behind than the dark; though dark moments are inevitable, hope, love, and whimsy of all varieties are as certain as the rising sun.
With a WHIMSPUN life I hope! To reach others who have stumbled and could use a hand up, others who have become comfortable walking ten or more paces behind their friends, others who have spent too many days fatigued, isolated and lonely. I am committed to navigating the terrains, rocky and splendorous, of a life unimagined with honesty, humility, and humor.
Life is too beautiful, too difficult to go it alone. Whimsy in all of its magical glory seeks company!