Peter was lucky to have a cousin who stayed at this house for a few weeks after surgery as well as his girlfriend by his side. His favorite part of the day is taking his 45-minute walk, which he had to build up his strength in order to do. The biggest help for Peter came from a friend who had had the same surgery. Talking to him helped Peter realize that what he was going through was normal. Peter had been working at the same hospital for 40 years and when they knew what surgery he needed to have done they were incredibly supportive and understanding.
I also knew someone who had the same surgery, and he said to me, this is what I experienced. Don't think that there's anything wrong. It's gonna be six weeks before you even start to begin to feel like yourself. That was very helpful for me.
I called the office. And I said, I have one question for you. I said, I have all these physical limitations. I said, What about sex? And they said, As long as, you know, you're not gonna be hangin' from the chandeliers or doin' somethin' crazy, it's okay. I spoke to my friend. He said, After mine, I stayed on the bottom. [LAUGH] And the biggest help that I had was my friend who had the same surgery. That was... immeasurable in terms of how much it helped me... realize that what I was going through was normal, and that there wasn't something... wrong. And I would call him often and complain. I would say, Were you still feeling this at three weeks? And he was very patient with me, 'cause I kept asking him the same questions over and over and over again, but he said, Pete... you're gonna be out of it for six to eight weeks. This is perfectly normal. This is exactly what I experienced. That was the greatest help for me. So to have someone who's been through it before, who you can bounce your frustrations and your fears and your doubts against, it's immeasurable.
I have been at the hospital that I work at for 40 years. Have a good reputation. I have a very good relationship with the chairman of the department. And when I initially went in to speak with them, to tell them that I was gonna have the surgery, their response, without even... without hesitation, was, Peter, take as much time off as you need. And whenever you're ready to come back, your job is here for you. And not too many people get that kind of flexibility. And then when I came back to work, it was understood that there were certain things that I could do, and there were certain things that I couldn't do. Like lifting a patient from the gurney.
Your body tells you what you can do and what you can't do. And if I couldn't do it, I just simply said, I need help. And everybody understood that I had just had major back surgery, and everybody was very accommodating and very understanding and very sympathetic. I just eased back in. If I were a couch potato, I would say that I had gotten back to my regular life. The pain that I experienced, pre surgery, was so... uh, debilitating. I remember going to a cocktail party, and standing and talking to people, and I had this, I felt like there was a knife sticking in my leg.
And I was trying to take the weight off of my foot while I was, uh, talking to that person, and it was terrible. That's gone. And at four months, I am conscious... uh, of being careful. I'm much more conscious of where I'm walking, 'cause I don't wanna trip over something. When I walk down the steps, I'm holding onto the railing. You know... it's really hard to tell people what to expect. I don't think they hear it. There's a certain form of denial. It's not gonna be that bad for me.
I've never experienced anything like it in terms of the debilitation that I felt for the first four to six weeks after the operation. But once your energy starts to come back, you slowly start to put the pieces of your life together again, and eventually it becomes normal. But that's hard to convey. It really is. There really are not problems at this point. I'm just waiting for him to give me the green light to, probably, start out on a stationary bike, and then I'll ultimately be able to get back on my bicycle and, you know, ride into the sunset. Ride into the sunset. Ride into the sunset. Ride into the sunset.