Alan Staton via Flickr

Alan Staton via Flickr

Don’t step on the crack or you’ll break your mother’s back!

This popular children’s game comes to mind at times when walking with my kids or treating a patient with back issues.
When my very young and active 70 year old mother broke her back however this game rang ominously true.

As most multitasking women do, she had been nearly down the stairs with a small laundry basket and a cup to put in the sink in her hands when she missed the last couple of steps and fell awkwardly.

She wounded up┬ácompressing her lumbar vertebrae into a “wedge fracture” -the term that describes a trauma that turns a rectangular vertebrae into a triangular shape when viewed in profile on X-rays.
Now, instead of discussing the obvious medical issue of osteoporosis (bone thinning) in this article I want to share my mother’s healing mindset.

Blessedly, other than being born with a congenital heart defect and having high blood pressure my mother has enjoyed relatively good health all her life. The back fracture was her first ‘accident’ where she had to go to the ER and her first ever broken bone.

What is remarkable is her recovery. She was off her pain medications in 3 days and up and walking around in a week and completely pain-free and back to her usual busy routine in a month.

Patients 10-20 years younger than her with similar injury can take 3 months and sometimes complain of chronic pain depending on pills for years.
Two clear differences are her reliance on faith and prayer as medicine and her healing mindset. Her healthy mindset expects positive and rapid healing, so she got it.

There was absolutely no whining or victim mentality in her recovery whatsoever. Sure, she got frustrated and regretted
the whole slip and fall incident, but she focused on the “forced rest” it gave her.

She relished the chance to see her friends and family (although sheepishly) and the chance to reflect and be grateful for her previous health.

Her resilience and positive perseverance is something I share with my patients now as encouragement and I keep a photo of her broken spine X-ray on my phone as one of my wallpapers to remind me regularly that healing is in large part in our mental control.

Want more healing┬áthat goes beyond the “pill for every ill” approach?

Sign up below to get new weekly issues of Healthgist in your inbox and get your health questions answered while at it.


About the author

Avatar photo

Dr. Carol

Dr. Carol- doctor, wife, mom and maker PB&J!
One of my passions is to help people Embrace change, Try new things and be BOLD for a healthier and balanced life!


  • Thank you for another great article. Your mom is a wonderful example.

    I will think of her good example as I struggle with “resting” after my cataract surgery next Monday. I will so miss my time at the Y, but I want a good outcome.

    I Will keep your mom in my prayers, and please pray for me and those involved in my care.

    Very sincerely,
    Judi Parker

    • I feel you Ms. Parker. The worst punishment anyone can hand me is to insist I rest. Who has time for that? Beautiful things come out of those mandatory rest though- the vision for Healthgist came when I was forced off my feet after sustaining a foot fracture from a car accident. Talked it over with my dear “partner-in-crime”, Dr. Carol and Healthgist was born!

      We would be praying for a wonderful outcome with your upcoming cataract surgery.

    • Some body parts are that way, Anne Louise. Ankle is one of such- it takes close to the same time to heal from an ankle sprain as an ankle fracture.

  • That is awesome at how fast she healed. I took a tumble the other day and bruised my leg bad. I forced myself to rest for one day and then got back to my walking.

    • Listening to your body is crucial Tara. Pain is our body’s red traffic light telling us to STOP and check it out.

Leave a Comment