Ten years ago I could not walk across an airport without a wheelchair. Here I am at 3,000 feet on Sunday after a two-hour hike (near The Chief by Squamish, BC, Canada). After a super-active young-adult life of sports and adventure, followed by 15 years of chronic and sometimes debilitating back pain from a simple fall, I have been pain-free now for two and a half years.

I am once again writing full-time, walking an hour a day, living a normal life. I no longer need to cancel presentations, restrict my writing to 45 minutes at a time, or choose between walking TO the grocery store and THROUGH it. I no longer have to lie down in the back seat of the car while my husband drives, or turn down social invitations because I cannot sit through them.

I do not take these things for granted at all. For anyone who is where I was ten years ago, I wish to emphasize that there is hope. For me, the cure was persistence. I tried every medical option out there before a combination of physio and deep breathing coordinated with pressure points seemed to finally do the trick. Throughout the long, dark period, I still managed to write; in fact, escaping the real world for a fictional one is a super way to deal with pain.

Even though I have a new lease on life, I treasure a deeper perspective in general, and empathy for those with chronic pain in particular, both of which I gained as a result of my experience.

Again, there is always hope of recovery. Never give up.