Managing his own expectations was very difficult for Andy even when he went back to work after two and half months post surgery. His coworkers worked around Andy’s needs. Andy talks about the complicated relationship one can have with his or her caregiver. He is not totally pain free but feels content by what he can do and feels he will continue to improve. Andy’s wife, Stephanie, is featured in our series as a caregiver.
Managing expectations is definitely tough. I think my doctor was pretty clear that the healing period can go between here and go between there, and it’s an individual thing. He was very confidant that I would be able to be walking again, and doing activities again that would, uh, allow my [quote?] life to come back.
The expectation, in my case, was this slow drip test. It was a water torture test. It was waiting for this to happen, getting to those benchmark times of the front-end of it. Okay, I can live that I’m not on the front-end of it. I went back to work two and half months after the surgery. I couldn’t drive. I Uber’d 60 miles one way, I Uber’d 60 miles the other way. I did that for two months. It was just how it was. When I got to where I was, there were people who cared, who helped get me water. I had, what I call, a zero gravity type of a chair. I took to that location, and I had people that made sure that I got in that chair for a period of time.
People would have meetings around me in that chair. [LAUGH] I think I’m probably the worst patient in the world. You’re forced with having to handle life. If you weren’t at work, you were doing work from day one from home. Emails, and everything’s on a tablet, on a phone. I’m angry that I have to think. I’m angry that I have to answer these things. And the fact that I have to, and your caregiver may not have to do those things, may not be under that same pressure, you’re suddenly angry at your caregiver. It’s ridiculous. You’re taking it out on the people that you care most about. Always be careful about being angry with your caregiver, about how you’re feeling mentally and physically. It’s not their fault, they can’t fix it. They can’t do anything about it. You’ve gotta learn how to fix it yourself. On the other hand, you should use your caregiver for the reasons that they really should be there for. “Don’t lift this, and don’t get up off the chair stupidly.” And then, you’re-you’re mad at them, ‘cause you got up and did it yourself. I mean, there’s really no logical rhyme or reason that goes behind it. It brings out the worst of you, and I could’ve handled my post-surgical fear, that length of time in not having hope and disparity, I could’ve handled it a lot better than I did with my partner.
Sex after the back surgery, the neat thing is I still have a sex drive. That’s kinda cool. And I still love to have sex with my wife, and that’s really cool. Luckily, my wife doesn’t expect me to be a 28-year-old guy that can twist and bend and jump in 52 positions, because you’re not able to do that any longer. You have to be much more careful. The funny thing about it is sometimes you get tired of some of those great comfortable positions that you both seem to love, and you just wanna surprise her and do something else. And you may pay the price later, but that’s… [I’d say?] that you have to pay the price for doing something stupid, that’s probably the place to do it.
To be honest with you. I’m blessed that I seem to be getting better and better as the day goes. I am not pain free. I have no expectation. Let me talk expectations about being pain free. I’m not holding that up there as a dream. I wanna be able to tolerate it and handle it with a minimal amount of medication. I wanna do as much as I can, and I need to be careful. I find that if you get too brave and too bold with how good you’re feeling, it’s really easy to do dumb things that set you back to really not feeling well. You’re weakest when you’re strongest.
You better be careful. Reality is that my life is back. I’m able to go for two mile walks with Stephanie right now. I’m able to go and get into a sailboat, and sit down, and have people keep saying to me, “Are you ok?, “Are you comfortable? Here’s a pillow.” And I can just say, “I’m fine.” I’m fine. Am I pain free? No, I am fine. When I got on a regular bike, and realized that it wasn’t the looking up like it used to be, it was the leaning over to the handle bars. I’m supposed to stand with my shoulder blades touching each other. You can’t lean over. I’m not gonna get on a bike again. So, that recumbent bike is a lifesaver for me, and I love going around in it.
It makes me feel better. I’m blessed and I’m happy, and I have grandchildren coming, and I feel that I have a whole life ahead of me. I’m psyched about what’s to come, and I still believe I have a long road ahead of me. I just need to do it smartly.