Jon, 26, grew up in Boston where he played hockey and lacrosse as a kid. By 10th grade Jon was 6”1’ and experiencing what he thought was normal growing pains. He didn’t want to wear a back brace or have back surgery which his doctor suggested. Jon still wanted to play hockey and lacrosse. He could not put his own socks on by his junior year. Jon often travels for work, and a cross-country flight for him is “brutal.” For ten years he has not been able to sleep in one position for too long without pain. He is used to living this way.
My name is Jon. I'm 26. I grew up in Boston, and I'm a recent transplant here to Los Angeles. Traveling a lot for work. Work in the music business with production, and so we do different things in the electronic and orchestral music space.
Growing up in Boston, dad and uncle were both big hockey players, so we were skating pretty young. But so I was playing hockey, playing lacrosse. You know, it's interesting, 'cause in ninth grade, I all of a sudden woke up one day with a massive, swollen wrist, massive swollen elbow, pain all over, aching everywhere, and went into the ER. And they kept saying I had arthritis, and my mom is, like, this kid's in ninth grade. There's no way that's the case.
Nine months later, after going to tons of different doctors, one was like, I'm just gonna get you tested for all these different things. It turns out I had pretty bad Lyme disease. That's kind of around when my back started hurting. You know, I never had one incident that was I got hit in the boards and all of a sudden my back's broken. I just kind of figured, oh, it was growing pains. You know, I mean, by the time I was in ninth grade, I was probably, like, 6'1. And so I was shooting up, and I just thought it was normal, and-or it's the Lyme's. After another year, year and a half, so probably this is the end of my tenth grade year in high school, I finally went home, I was like, Mom, I don't think that this is normal. Could we just go get it checked out? I mean, by this point, I was a little bit of a wild child, so I'd been in and out of hospitals with stitches and all sorts of different things.
And so I was kind of used, I was like, let's just go back to the hospital, let's just see what's going on. Got an MRI, CAT scan, everything. And turns out I had a crack in my L2 and a crack in my L5. So that was a surprise, and it also kind of was like, all right, cool, like, I'm not just being a wimp and this isn't just growing pains. Like, there was actually something wrong. I'm glad we caught onto this. What are my options, doctor? And he's like, all right, well, we're gonna get you fitted for a brace. Whoa. You know, I'm tenth grade, sophomore in high school. I've got this massive brace that he wanted to put on me. So I was like, what else? He's like, what I suggest is we fuse the bones together. It's two years' recovery, and it should work, you know, which at that time I wouldn't have accepted either way, because I got to play hockey, I got to play lacrosse.
But at the same time, my hockey season of junior year, which is kind of the year that you get looked at, I couldn't play. I mean, I'd wake up, and shout Dad, you've got to put my socks on. I couldn't bend over to put my socks on. I mean, that's how bad it got. Waking up in the morning and having to, like, yell upstairs to my dad to come down and put my socks on is not what you want to be doing at 16, 'cause, you know, at that age, you're getting independent. So part of me was a little insecure about it. You know, we had a bigger car, the Expedition back then. Great, I can hop right up into that thing. It was awesome. But getting in and out of those small, you've got to bend down, and ooh, that'll get you. Even now, a cross-country flight, you're sitting down in that seat for five, five and a half hours. It takes a toll on my back.
Things that I didn't have to do before, I mean, constantly stretching; hamstrings, glutes, all the time stretching. Every morning when I woke up, I had to stretch. Every night before I'd go to bed, I had to stretch. Otherwise, I'd wake up and I'd be stiff, and if I'm stiff, I could barely put my pants on now, let alone my socks. If I lie on my back for too long, back hurts. Lie on my side for too long, it starts to hurt. Sit down for too long, it starts to hurt. So I'm constantly throughout the night changing, and I've been doing it for about 10 years now and dealing with this. It’s just,this is how my life is. I mean, now looking back, it's like, oh, maybe I should have done that, but at the time I was like, that's not an option. Like, doc, I just can't not play sports. I'd rather have the pain and play lacrosse than not play.
I think it was the end of tenth grade