Monday, October 3, 2011

The Road to Recovery

There are moments in your life when you realize you are in control of nothing. Recovering from major life-saving surgery is one of those moments. I can go from feeling almost fine to so tired I can barely move in an instant. My body is in complete control right now and courtesy of some well-placed advice from those who know and love me most, I believe I am going to listen.

Being an ‘A’ type personality is not a good thing when you are in recovery. Relaxing for long periods of time is not in my nature. Don’t get me wrong, I like to take some time off here and there to spend with the kids or to read a good book. But anything beyond an afternoon of playing outside or the occasional “three chapters to avoid the dishes bathroom break” I start getting fidgety to accomplish something. When watching sports, unless it is one of my kids’ games, I have to have something else to do or else the downtime between plays is excruciating. Even back in high school, the teachers included a note in my folder that said, “Make sure Ken has a book to read every day so that when he finishes his assignments early he has something to do!”

In business, this requirement to stay busy has served me well for the most part. I usually juggle two or three main projects while maintaining an inventory of smaller research projects and white papers. This allows me to provide immediate service to our stakeholders while planning for future technology requirements.

So, when faced with several weeks of recovery on short term disability inhibiting my ability to perform my duties at work (meaning DO NOT DO WORK, RECOVER!) what’s a guy to do? In the past, I had no disability insurance, in fact this time they had to explain to me what it is and how I was supposed to use it. When faced with my previous two surgeries a decade ago and more, I simply worked; whether in the hospital or laid up in bed. Back then we didn’t even have the benefit of the Internet. My wife transported files back and forth via a large portable hard drive. But the reality was I worked. Now I was a bit younger in those days, however, since I was working from home I could set my schedule based on when I was sleeping and when I was awake. It gave my mind something to do while just lying there in bed. Was this the best mode of recovery? Based on what I now know, no. At the time, however, it was and it kept the lights on and the mortgage paid.

So, here I am today, lying in my bed, recovering slowly. The older tissues are mending well, but the soreness and weariness is a lot more than I remember from the past. Ten years applies a lot of wear to the body. Fortunately, with the exception of the recent vena caval issue, I am in great shape and the healing process is proceeding according to schedule. Maybe even a little faster than expected. For me it seems like eternity.

I am catching up on the grad school work I missed while in the hospital for two weeks. I have started the most recent “Change” Novel from SM Stirling. And, I have attempted to keep everyone up to date with semi-regular Facebook entries and mass emailings. And, as promised to my boss and my wife, I have not done one ounce of work while on disability. This is not to say I have not thought about it or what I would like to accomplish once I get back (you know you’re in trouble when you start dreaming of learning solutions in your sleep), but I have not acted on any of it; no papers, wireframes, PowerPoint slides, etc.

I think the best part on the road to recovery has been the people who have joined me from time to time. The loving support of my friends and family both outside and inside of my work has been amazing. Between the cards and emails and food and flowers and prayers, I have felt more loved by more people than any time in my life. I am truly blessed by God and all the angels he has sent my way. I was faced with a human burden of the flesh and through His grace he provided me with the best medical care and the best support team possible.

I am not sure how long this road will be. Initial estimates were the end of October. I am hoping for a week earlier, but we shall see. I at least want to be driving by this weekend, but we shall see. In the meantime I eat, sleep and occupy my waking hours with Netflix, Sci-Fi novels, grad school and the occasional blog post. The great thing is that there is an end to this road, and contrary to where I started two weeks ago, I am going to make it alive and well.

- Ken

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