Andy, 62, has had back pain and neck issues for as long as he can remember. He learned at a young age he had a very narrow spinal column. Not only did he need to wear a neck brace on and off as a kid, but his discs would often slip leading to episodes where he was bed ridden. In his 60’s his chronic back pain was so acute he felt as if he had two separate lives. His pain kept him from enjoying life—he could not even walk the dog with this wife.
My name is Andy. I’m married to a wonderful woman, Stephanie. We’re a Brady Bunch family. I have two children, Stephanie has three. We’ve been together for long enough that I consider her children mine, and I call them son and daughter. I got into the logistics fields on the east coast many, many years ago, and I love it, and I love the whole international, domestic, and how the retail trade works. Some of my back pain and neck issues started as long as I can remember. I remember being a youngster diving off of a diving board, and learning later through that compression and having a very narrow spinal column that my disks would bulge and my neck would go out.
I wore a neck brace for a few days, and I’d be fine, right as rain. And there were times on the lower back where it was strange. You’d be doing things, and, all of sudden, your knees would go out from under you. You go to get out of bed, and your disk would slip. You’d get into a laydown position, you’d take it easy for a few days, and those would be episodes that would happen maybe twice a year. That was going on for about as long as I can remember. The effect of back pain, or chronic pain, it does affect you in so many ways that people don’t realize. So, there’s the obvious pain that you’re dealing with, and everybody deals with pain at different levels. As it goes on and on and on, I think that the strength I’m bearing with, you think it changes your personality a great deal.
You start to consider where you’re going, how long you’re going there for, what can I do to stay out of that position, and then when you’re putting yourself in positions where you’re living with that pain, you’re not in conversation or engaged as you used to be. You’re sort of quiet, and you’re trying to be a sport. People are used to you being different for a long time, and I think it grows to the point where you want to be less and less engaged, so you’re sort of living two separate lives. And your wife, in many cases, going in two cars, ‘cause you know you only wanna be there an hour, and she’s gonna wanna stay through the evening. You kinda got together to do all these neat stuff together, and all of sudden you’re not doing the neat stuff, the hiking that you were doing, the boating that you were doing, the… We were very outdoorsy, and Steph loves that, I love that, and, all of a sudden, you know, you’re getting questioned on, “Honey, can we walk down the street, or do you think we can walk at the mall?”
And, [LAUGH] you know, it gets to the point you’re being asked if you can do ridiculous things, and you’re being asked for good reasons. So, it finally got to the point that all those things affected me, and I was young, and I was worried about a future of happiness. And I went to see a neurosurgeon about seven years ago, and I had surgery on my lower back, and it was not successful. It just slowly got worse and worse and worse. Going out to dinner, ‘cause you wanna do something normal, and just being in brutal pain. I was frightened of surgery. For me to even go and do the earlier one on my back was monumental for me, then to go and see the neurosurgeons to look for a solution and the MRIs, you just had no choice.
You had to kinda get pass that fear, and try to go for it. There’s choices, and each choice has a positive list and a negative list, and you go through those lists, and you keep coming up with a solution at the time, until you’re finally let down, [by trial?] there. You make the final decision, which was to go in for the surgery that I landed up doing. This neurosurgeon that I used, he was a life-changer. He looked me in the eyes, he talked to me, he looked through endless records that I had, sent me for new MRIs, new CAT scans, and sat there and went over them in finite detail with me, pointing, showing, and explaining what he felt he could do, and telling me, literally saying, “I believe I can give you your life back.”
So, we picked the date of December first. And that date, I just wanted to do it. I wasn’t really, extremely nervous. There were times, you’re there, [INAUDIBLE] “Is this really happening?” And you go through the motions, and you’re getting wheeled, and you’re kinda saying, “I think this is real.” But I was okay.