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Question for Drivers

wwlady41wwwlady41 Posts: 131
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:54 AM in Recovering from Surgery
Hi all,
I am new to this forum and am so happy to find it! This has been a crazy year for me. I had a 2 level cervical fusion with fixation done in January. Then a TLIF on L4-5 on 5/17.
I had been postponing them both as long as I could but the stenosis had become severe and the pain just wouldn't let me live my life.
I was so worried about taking the time off from my job, things have been a bit rough since a new upper mgr came on board. But finally there really was no choice.
Both surgeries had complications, cardiac (SVT), inability to swallow after the cervical, ileus and bladder retention issues afte the lumbar. Needless to say both hospital stays were longer than planned, 9 and 11 days respectively.
My concern regarding driving involves my job. I am required to be out in the field for 80% of my week and the average mileage for me was about 1800 miles a month. I have a very large area to manage and have loved the work I do.
I just don't know if I will be able to resume this safely, how long it could take or even if it is wise to protect my body for the future, I am 51 and want to be smart.
If anyone has anything to share I would really appreciate it.


  • Sounds like my job. I work from home but drive (outside sales). I have re-woked my schedule as much as I can. I call on the phone more and send samples/literature via email/snail mail/fed ex as much as I can. I have cut my driving down about 50% since my MVA last April. I try to stay on a tight very organized schedule when I am out. I plan for more calls on each day that I am out. Instead of seeing 4-5 accounts daily I see 7-12. I can get most of my calls done in 2 -2.5 days leaving the rest of the time to get super organized and plan better.

    I hope that helps. I am on plenty of meds (I am used to working on them), but what kills me is sitting on my car when I have to drive an hour or 2 out of town.

    Good Luck :)

  • Hi Julie,
    it sounds like you are doing a good job organizing and reducing the time on the road.
    I have always tried to be very effective while on the road, seeing as many of my staff and locations while out, but even with that I was close to 2000 miles a month. My area is very spread out.
    I don't know yet what I can do, but I guess time will tell. I am trying to remain positive and hopeful!
  • Hi WWLady!

    It was great chatting with you last night, I can't believe how much you've been through this year while still remaining so positive!

    With not knowing what you do for a job, and why you have to drive to your different sites, would it be possible to do some sort of tele or video conferencing instead of actually physically visiting them? Or use something like Skype maybe?

    that's all I have for suggestions, sorry! Hope you continue to heal quickly and that your recovery goes well. And that we see you in chat again as well!!
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • It was great chatting with the group yesterday, it has helped me so much finding all of you! Friends and family try, but they really can't understand. I do use conference calls and skpe when possible, but unfortunately I must physically be on site in the various locations for visits and staff development, just the nature of the job. Some folks have smaller areas geographically, mine just is really large.

    I am trying to just focus on the healing and see where it takes me, but I would be lying if I said it doesn't worry me.
    looking forward to seeing you in chat again soon!
  • Bonnie:

    I share your situation. My job involved extensive driving (on average 1,000/week prior to PLIF in Jan 11). Now I am gradually getting "back" into it and I am learning new techniques to manage the pain. Last week I drove 900 miles in 4 days - it kicked my butt and once again humbled my male pride.

    Anyway, here's what I have learned. Pain is cummulative. You may feel OK for a day or so, but then it sets in. Plan your driving accordingly. Insert days of no-driving between days of driving. Allocate more time for the trip because you should stop more often and rest/stretch/walk. This one is really difficult for me because as a man I perceive driving as a competition and if I pull over then someone else is getting ahead of me (that male pride thing again). As best you can, squeeze as many appointments together in the same trip. For example, get customers to commit to a 7:30 a.m. meeting or a 5 p.m. meeting. And, as has already been suggested, make the electrons travel instead of you.

    Good luck.
  • For you it is male pride, but I can so relate :) I am a woman who thrives on the competition and my toughest, is me :)
    thank you for your reply, it is good hearing from folks who are making it work. I am still pretty early in rehab, surgery was in May. So I know I will need patience... not easy!
    But I am also just trying to be sure I make the best decision, not just for work, but for me and long term health. I worry that between the limited range of movement in my neck and the fusion in the low back that I will just put too much stress on the nearby disks and end up back in surgery in another year or 2.
    I know there are no guarantees, I just want to do all I can to protect myself and be smart about what I do.
    what are your thoughts?
  • Bonnie:

    We walk a similar path, yet still different. I am 60 years old and only have a few more years of doing this driving gig. Because of that I have somewhat discounted the effects of long term health issues because I will only continue to do this job for a relatively short period of time. My company has bent over backwards (I remember when I could, too) to accommodate my situation. They do not want me to stop working (it's nice to feel wanted).

    That said, in my past I was very "bull headed" about work. As you said, I was my greatest critic and motivator. I would work through sickness. So much so that this disintegrating spine has been an issue with me since 1978. I put it off and gritted my teeth. I know full well that I aggravated my condition by continuing to do what I did in the military for 20 years (jump out of airplanes, etc.). I lived/worked for the moment with little or no regard for my future health. Well now the day of reckoning has arrived. It finally shut me down and I underwent surgery. Now I laughingly tell people that I am a 60 year old trapped in the body of an 80 year old. I compressed two decades of normal health into one. It's gone and it ain't coming back.

    Long response with little advice. I plan to work a few more years at the same job, but with self-imposed and employer-supported restraint/restriction/modification as I described in my previous post. What I recommend to you is to seriously look at job opportunities that would enable you to stay in the same line of work, but with minimal travel. Explore telemarketing techniques for established customers (this is real popular now that fuel prices are so high). Convince management that you are more valuable to them as a supervisor - one who can train others to do what you have done so well. Both of these approaches keep you in the game, just in a different position with much less physical liability.

    Regardless, you really should look further ahead than I did and seriously consider what you want to be like physically in 10 years, 20 years, etc. When it is all said and done, financially there probably wouldn't be much difference but you sure would feel better.
  • I am sorry it has taken me so long to reply. I have had some ups and downs in the last 2 weeks. But I march (well not exactly, maybe totter! with this walker!)along.
    Today I went to see my internist. The specialist sent me to her to check on dizziness. They felt it was inner ear, she disagrees. I have very low blood pressure and frankly am pretty weak and run down after having the 2 surgeries this year. She is running blood work and we will go from there.
    I am so happy for you, and a bit jealous... of your situation with a company that is being flexible. Mine is not. They have told me more than once that I have to be 100%. I am a field manager and with the alignment there really isn't another spot.
    Running all of this thru my mind has been tough. I started getting anxious. Then I realized that it wouldn't help the recovery.
    so, I am trying to focus right now on the rehab and worry a bit less about work. I am still out on STD, moving to LTD in a few weeks.
    I hear you when you say to look further ahead and what my health will be like then. It has taken me a while, stubborn as I am :) but I am now trying.
    Step by step I will get stronger and make decisions when I encounter those moments.
    take care Jim,
  • Bonnie:

    Your comments remind me of just how blessed I am. Hang tough in your situation. As we used to say in the airborne - keep your feet and knees together (this is the common practice to prevent broken ankles, knees, etc. upon impact with the ground).

  • okay, so it seems the decision was made for me.
    I got the call from the boss that said, it was too long and that she needed to replace me.
    so, I will continue to work on my healing and keep the faith that better days are to come :)
    thanks all for the support!
  • Bonnie:

    That sucks! There's little to say that can make you feel better emotionally other than "we care." I don't know how I would respond, but probably initially with anger, then slipping into fear and depression.

    Some wise person always says that for every door that closes another opens. The challenge is to find it; however, your challenge is doubled because of a painful back.

    Some bubbly, never-say-die type of person would offer encouragement by pointing out that this is definitely an opportunity. As you are experiencing, there's a fine line between fear and excitement. Under your current physical conditions you could most likely do without that type of excitement.

    Hope things improve physically and fiscally.
  • thanks so much for the kind response, I really do appreciate it.
    I have been working thru the emotional response to the situation, first angry, then pulling back and turning everything inside, and now I am doing better. I do know that it was perfectly legal of the company to do what they did, not that I liked it :( but I also have to acknowledge that they actually waited longer than they actually were required to do.

    Now I have the other side, I really hadn't quite thought of before it happened... I have a couple of very sharp members of my staff who are considering applying for my postion.
    Made me catch my breath for a moment, but I am actually quite proud that I was really able to support them, give them some prospective into the actual internals of the position and avoid any of the negative feelings that I had to work thru. Truthfully, it is a very tough but rewarding job, way too large a territory, but going in with open eyes one of my spectacular folks would do a great job.
    I really hope they do select one of them, I will be very proud :)

    As for me, I would be lying if I said I was all wise and bubbly :) but I am trying to look at the positives and work on the recovery and pain management. My life is changed, different.. but still with lots of possibilities :)
    Just trying to find ways to have less down moments and many more positives :)

    I appreciate your kind words Jim, thank you

  • I m sorry that all this has happened to you but am quite amazed at your attitude :D

    An attitude like you have that took me almost 10 yrs of bitterness, anger and hurt to get past before I got "OK" with my working situation.

    Now I can finally focus on my new future. Your attitude is wonderful :)
    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
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