How Back Pain Interrupted My College Education

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Ignoring the Problem

For the rest of my freshman year, I did my best to just ignore the pain. There were some days when it would practically disappear, and other days when it would get so bad that I couldn’t even concentrate in class. For some reason though, I was too stubborn to actually go see a doctor.

Physical Therapy and Painkillers

That summer, at my parents’ insistence, I finally agreed to see a doctor about my back pain. I had x-rays and an MRI done. The doctor discovered that I had not just one, but three slipped discs in my lower back. The discs were pinching nerves, which was what caused the pain running down my leg.


I barely made it through the first semester of my junior year. The pain in my back was distracting me from class and keeping me up all night. I remember a one-week period where I barely slept more than a few hours. Even when I was awake, I felt like I couldn’t think clearly about anything.

What I Learned About Pain

The biggest lesson I learned from my entire experience is that physical pain can also be mentally debilitating. This is something I might have understood on an intellectual level, but I didn’t truly grasp that the physical pain can affect your mind to such a strong degree.

I’m a lawyer and teacher from North Carolina. I write about sobriety, mental health, running, and more. Buy me a “coffee” at

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