Andy did not expect the pain he felt post-surgery which took longer than anticipated. He was able to walk rather quickly but had significant bloating which called for a specialist’s attention. Being in the hospital for two weeks, as well as the transitions back to home and then work, was “brutal.” He felt depressed and worried about his recovery, burdening his family and weaning himself off pain meds.
. It’s interesting for you to ask the questions about coming home, and the pain, and how different it is after being in the hospital for that period of time. You’re told what to do, you’re told not what to do, you’re really listening carefully, ‘cause you’re really hurting and you don’t wanna hurt. So, you wanna do the smartest things to heal and stop hurting as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, you really can’t do anything, you’re just at the mercy of your caretaker. I think if I yelled “Steph” one more time, she may have killed me.
And maybe that would have been the kindest thing at the time. I was… It was brutal. You’re taking medications. One, you’re supposed to be taking medications, you’re in and out, and-and it’s impossible to move, it’s impossible to prop yourself up, you’re really trying to do these things, you’re doing what they’re telling you with your [heels?] and everything was r… very, very painful. I know that there was a lot of nerve damage that they had found, and a lot of additional hours spent trying to get cysts of nerves, and get the nerves through the canals, and I think there was a lot of scraping of, what I call, the sheath of the nerves. So, the healing period and the nerve pain was very, very long.
The whole time, I’m on the phone with work as much as I can be. I stupidly joined meetings while I’m slurring my words, and I’m not hearing. It came to the point where you went back to work, and you had to function, and you were still in chronic pain. You don’t believe that the surgery worked. The next stage of what happened, the very, very, very deep depression while trying to function. So many… So many layers of it. You went into this because you wanted to have a new life. I naively think I’m gonna go through this period of time, and [now?] my life’s back, and this is how it’s gonna be. And it wasn’t how it turned out to be. And by that time, you do not want to complain anymore, you don’t wanna… This whole lie that you’re leaving, going up into the surgery, everybody, and how you doing… Everything you’re doing is a lie.
You went in for that surgery, you were tired of the lie. It’s the mental lie, we’re not talking about pain, we’re just talking about the mental lie due to it all. To suddenly be pass the surgery, into it, going back to work, trying to justify why you were off work this long, so I should be coming back okay. So, the lie continues, ‘cause you’re so far from okay. You go home, and you’ve just gotten through that lie, and you take it out on your caregiver. You’re tired of not bending, or not picking up, or not doing the garbage, or not cleaning up after yourself, or not doing these things. And if you do them, it puts you back two weeks. You’re your worst enemy. You just do everything you know you shouldn’t do, and then you’ll get yelled at, and “Why’d you do that?
“That was stupid.” And [all because?] I’m sick of asking somebody else to do it for me. And then the caretaker, obviously, is upset because they’re already doing so much, and they don’t wanna do it longer, so stop being such an idiot. Just don’t do what you’re not supposed to do. There’s the whole layer of the depression side to believing that then this did not work, and for me this was a last go. This was the last hope of me having, uh, retirement and a life with my wife who I love so much. When you start to believe that this is not gonna be the outcome, that this is how it’s going to be forever, you think really black thoughts. I don’t know how to tell you how black your thoughts are. A couple of saviors from those black thoughts were Stephanie speaking to somebody who’d been through the surgery, or somebody who knew somebody who had been through it, who called me and said “I couldn’t face anything.
“But get through this. It’s gonna get better.” And hearing that there were other stories that it got better were lifesaving moments. And they really, really helped a great deal. And I think it’s important to say that after the first surgery, I went to, what I call a mill, where nobody knew me, and nobody paid attention, they wrote down what I was supposed to do, and I did it. It was not helpful. In this case, I was looked at, I was touched, I was talked to, I was interviewed on how I felt. They went through notes of where I was and what I was doing, and they were very helpful in explaining what the therapy was, and how I needed to change everything I do.
They challenged me, but they always made sure they didn’t push me too hard, that I would hurt myself. So that time when I started feeling better was a really wonderful time. I wish I was even clearer on it, that I knew it was happening. I was scared to death of the pain killers that I was taking for such a long extended period of time that I needed to start to cut down on the pain killers. One way or the other, I needed to do it. And I was doing it, and I wasn’t necessarily going through a great deal of pain. And I started realizing I was able to do more, I was able to stay out with Stephanie longer. People would come over, and instead of me going into the bedroom, I’d actually be able to sit at the table longer. It wasn’t this realization that, “Oh my god, I’m pain free,” because I’m not.
I just flew all over, I just came back, my back hasn’t felt this bad for the last few days. So, I’m not pain free. I just have my life back again. I can live with this type of pain. You’re slowly realizing that you’re able to do more, and do more, and do more, which lead you to go into the physical therapist more, which lead to you realizing when you didn’t listen to him, because after a period of time you don’t… you can do everything he’s telling you to do in your life and at home, but you just stop bending over the where you’re bending over, stop picking things up the way you’re picking things up, watch how you’re walking, catch yourself. So, in the beginning, you can’t think of these things. And remember to breathe at the same time, it’s such a different feeling in how you’re walking or standing.
You’re becoming really aware that these things, while I do them, I didn’t have pain in the afternoon. These shoes, if I wear them from the time I wake up to when I go to bed, and I stop wearing moccasins that have no support whatsoever in the morning, ‘cause they’re fun to wear around the house, the slippers don’t help. And you just realize all these things that are contributing to making it better. I still take pain meds, but I’m very aware of when something’s starting or when it’s coming on. I know how to stay ahead of it with a very small dose, as opposed to waiting till it gets so bad that a small dose won’t-won’t help things.
So, the pain meds are something that you need to be careful of, but it doesn’t scare me that much to take when I feel that I need to take it, because I’m able to go do what I need to do. And I’m not taking the 15 a day, it’s just not like that any longer.