When I was 16 and everyone was planning careers and universities I was dreaming of beautiful beaches, sunshine and adventures. So, I left school and got myself a job in retail so that I could begin saving for the adventure of a lifetime!
Retail actually became something that I loved, I made some of my best friends there, I learnt how to be in the working world and all round had the most incredible few years!
Over this time, I started to develop some back pain. I persevered through it and continued completing deliveries, launching sales and avidly learning visual merchandising. However, the pain gradually became worse and was quite constant so I decided to see an osteopath who was very good and helped me. He also suspected that I had a disc injury so he referred me for an MRI which showed that I had a Prolapsed Intervertable Disc at L4 & L5. I was then referred to an orthopaedic surgeon for a second opinion. He was very reluctant to offer me spinal surgery at this stage due to my age and suggested that I should continue with the osteopathic treatment as this was helping and that I could consider wearing a back support whilst lifting and bending at work.
At this point I was worried that I would not be able to go travelling, how was I going to climb to the top of the mountain with a back like this? However, with some continued osteopathic treatment my back and leg pain began to further improve. I learnt more about managing my back pain and I spent some time learning some basic yoga and then in the spring I booked my flight to Sydney Australia!
There were three very important investments I had to make before I got on the flight, the first was the insurance which was obviously imperative that I had got all the correct insurance. The next important purchase I needed to invest in was my backpack, my entire life would be held in it and then put on my back! This was obviously an important purchase as I did not want to cause myself additional back pain. So, I got a backpack with wheels then if my back was having a bad day at least I could pull rather than carry my backpack. Finally, having spoken to my osteopath and recalling what the surgeon had said I invested in a back support so that I had something with me that would give me additional help if I needed it. I spent lots of time doing my research and with some advice I came to the conclusion that the Medi UK lumbamed support was the ideal back support for me! It was lightweight, discreet when worn and had lots of good reviews.
The summer passed quickly and suddenly it was the 21st of September and I was standing with my passport in hand waving goodbye to my Dad at Gatwick airport. I was to spend 36 hours travelling to Sydney. First stop was Frankfurt (not the sunny destination I was hoping for, but a nice stop) then it was 11 hours to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam which was a crazy cool layover. I had asked my osteopath about things to do on the plane to stop my back seizing up and he gave me some simple stretches to do and advised me to stand up and walk when possible. So, every hour(ish) I got up and walked the length of the plane and done the stretches my osteopath had given me. After my Ho Chi Minh stop there was another 8 hours to Sydney.
I had planned to see so many things whilst in Sydney, obviously to see the Sydney Opera House, visit Bondi Beach, cuddle a koala but one of my top things was to go and see the Blue Mountains which is known for dramatic scenery, steep cliffs, eucalyptus forests, waterfalls and the Three Sisters sandstone rock formation. It was going to be a full day of walking, climbing and exploring, this was everything I had set out to do and I was so excited! The first thing I packed that day other than sunscreen was my back support. This day was incredible and I spent hours exploring the many terrains and looking at all the different types of flora and fauna! Half way through my day I noticed that I was starting to get some pain in my lower back so I took the time to put on my support and have my picnic lunch. The view was unbelievable!
After a delicious lunch and some down time for my back I set off for the rest of the day and with the support on I felt like I was completely refreshed and that I could now continue on the incredible adventure that I had always imagined that the Blue Mountains would be. On the train back to central Sydney I took off my back support. I was so pleased that I had the ideal support for me, because without it the day would have been entirely different. I would have had to give up at lunch time and I would have missed out on so many more stunning views and perfect photo opportunities!
I spent the next few months exploring Australia and making many happy memories, life long friends and experiencing places I had never even heard of!
After New Year I decided I needed a new place to adventure so off I went to Sydney International Airport and there I booked the next flight out to Indonesia, Denpasar Bali to be more precise. Indonesia was very different to Australia, there were new noises, smells and sights that you never expected. The two things that stood out most to me on this first day in Bali was that there were motor cycles everywhere, and that British potholes suddenly seemed very minor in comparison to the potholes, broken and very uneven pavements that I had to navigate to get to my hostel. This rendered the wheels on my back pack somewhat useless, so on went my back support. I knew I had too many things to see for me to have back pain so to prevent an injury I decided that whilst I was unable to wheel my back pack I would wear the support whilst carrying it.
Indonesia was incredible. One of my favourite experiences was climbing Crater Ijen, a 4km trek up a volcano and into a sulphur crater. An unbelievable experience. I often found that after a day of extreme trekking even with the back support on I felt like my back was a little tender and stiff. However, I did find ways of relieving the tension, firstly a good night’s sleep, although that was not always easy in hostels and some very simple yoga always made me and my back feel much better. The other activity that always seemed to help my back was swimming, the warmth of the ocean and the weightless feeling of swimming always made me feel like I was giving my back a well-deserved break.
I had an incredible time travelling, it was excellent I made so many memories that will stay with me forever! I got to see some amazing countries, meet some amazing people and have some incredible experiences. One of the biggest things though is that although I was not back pain free in the 12 months that I explored Australia and South East Asia I did learn to deal with it and did not let it hold me back from doing the things that I had wanted to do for so long. Back Pain can really be horrendous and so painful, I can truly sympathise! But it does not have to be the end of your adventurous side, even if that isn’t to the other side of the world. Talk to a professional, educate yourself and invest in the products that will help and suit you, because there are so many wonderful things to experience and back pain should never be the reason that you say no.