I have one sibling; a brother eight years my senior. At 29, he hurt his back too, after breaking his leg badly while playing sport and being on crutches for several months. He had always been huge and strong and probably suffered as much mentally, being suddenly crippled, as he did physically. His back injury was at the same level of his spine as my mother’s, but for myself I hadn’t yet made the connection. He was active, often lifting heavy things and doing physically demanding tasks that could account for his injury.
He is now 34, and still in pain despite surgery to correct a compression fracture (where one of the bones in your spine breaks under pressure because the discs aren’t cushioning the bones the way they should) and a partial discectomy (where they shave off the part of the disc that is bulging out where it shouldn’t). I remember blinding terror during the time he was having surgery, an ordinarily stressful situation compounded by leftover neurosis from my childhood anxiety for my mother.