Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sew Not in Pain

I've debated making this post for a while, but for some reason I feel the need to talk about it. So I'm posting it from my "edits" folder. This will talk about sewing, but not until after you've had a biology lesson(well not really).

I ruptured a disk in my lower back five years ago*. Not bulging, not a pinched nerve, but an actual rupturing of the hard shell of the disk to the point where the crab-meat like substance in the middle squirted out and lodged itself in a manner that irritated the actual nerve bundle. Walking was excruciating, and it took two and a half years of doctors, physical therapy, and finally an MRI to finally decide to have surgery. It helped immensely. But it was still another two and a half years of physical therapy and slowly, surely, losing all the weight I had put on during the ordeal before I was finally to a point I can now go day to day without narcotics. They treat it like a bad case of arthritis.

What does this have to do with sewing? Well, if anyone is serious about making clothes for themselves they have to come to terms with their own body. You can't lie about your size, your shape, you must embrace it. And when I finally did and came to terms that I am what I am, it gave me the impetus and courage to work through daily pain and start exercising again. It was, and mostly is, walking. I also take pilates classes at my gym. That's what the doc said "Core strengthening and cardio". I'm down 25 pounds, possibly even 30 as I didn't weigh myself for the longest time and it has made an amazing difference. Every pound of weight puts something like 2-5 pounds of pressure on your spine. That pressure being gone makes a big difference.

There are days I become so engrossed in a project that I forget to take the breaks I need to stretch and adjust for my back. I pay for it the next day quite heavily sometimes. Still, it has become a craft that I truly believe has helped me come to terms with how this has changed my life and how I approach it. It is something I can do and have an end result with little (most of the time) pain in the back. There's a certain satisfied feeling of accomplishment that one doesn't get on a regular basis in my field of work.

I'm still working toward an end goal of 170 pounds. That's what the doctors told me would be both healthy and achievable. Its hard, but the goal is for me not to be in as much pain, NOT so I can be skinny. I never was skinny, I never will be. And thanks to so many wonderful Sewing Bloggers out there I've decided that's OK.

The biggest realization in my change of attitude? Going to a boutique at the mall and everything was for a size 10 and under. Did I think "OMG I need to lose weight" or "I wish I was skinny"? NO! I thought "These clothes should be made to fit me". I call that a triumph in my book.

How has sewing changed your body image? Has it affected your life in a positive way?

Stay Fabulous!

(I'm on Day 3 of four 12 hour shifts. I keep looking at my patterns and fabrics longingly for the few quite minute I get before bed. Soon... soon...)

*The actual manner of how I was injured is not something I can discuss in a public forum for legal reasons.


  1. Wowza. Several members of my hubby's family have chronic back issues (mostly from accidents) and it's incredible how it can devastate a life. Good for you for working past it---and becoming a stronger, better person in the process.

    Sewing has definitely opened up wardrobe possibilities for me... It has really clarified my sense of my own body, and what works and what doesn't, and why. It's also allowed me to explore options I've never been able to fit in RTW, like woven blouses and long-sleeved tops. I'd never have been able to buy a blouse like my Ceylon blouse off the rack. And considering how standard I am compared to many of the people out there---it astounds me that anyone is happy in storebought clothes....

  2. @tanitisis - Thank you so much! And honestly, its reading the trials and tribulations of so many different body types with RTW that has helped me realize its everyone. I'm not inherently flawed in some way.