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  • Simone Ellin

Back After Back Surgery

I'm ashamed to admit it's been more than a month since I've blogged. I do have a fairly good excuse though.

After having bizarre symptoms such as numbness and nerve pain in my hands and right arm, neck pain, poor balance and more falls than I care to acknowledge, I finally learned that the source of my problems was my cervical spine. More specifically, an MRI showed that my spinal cord was being compressed by several vertebrae. Doctors were adamant that I needed surgery in my neck ASAP. So, more than two weeks ago, I underwent a very scary operation in which the offending vertebrae were removed, and I received a spinal fusion. It's a long and involved surgery with a difficult recovery.

The past two weeks have been painful and depressing. But it's also a relief to have discovered the cause of my symptoms and to think that as time passes, at least some of my discomfort will probably subside.

Just before my surgery, an amazing thing happened. I was contacted on my website by a woman whose grandfather was an old friend of my grandfather's in Germany before World War II. The woman — we'll call her C.— left her small village in Germany for California at the age of 18. These days, she resides in Austin, Texas. Here's how our virtual meeting came about:

Several days before she contacted me, C. obtained a copy of a letter that my grandfather wrote to her grandfather in 1961, after he, my grandfather and mother had resettled in New York City. The letter detailed some of the atrocities my family endured as a result of the Holocaust. C's family, though not Jewish, also endured a great deal of hardship due to the war.

After discovering the letter, C. googled around and eventually found my grandfather's obituary which contained my name. That led her to my website and the bullying project.

Sadly, as a young child, C. experienced terrible bullying by her classmates.

In the past few weeks, C., my mother and I have been corresponding by email. She is a lovely and accomplished person who feels strongly about my bullying project and has encouraged me to keep going with it.

It's funny... Every time I think I have learned as much as I can about the ways in which childhood bullying affects people in later life, I find there is more to learn. That's what keeps me interviewing people and working to get the word out about the pain so many of us encounter during our childhoods and for decades afterward. So, onward!

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