My first support system came from my family. I was very fortunate that my wife’s in the medical field herself, that she’s been there for 40 years, so she was my primary caretaker. And when I came out of surgeries, or I had other problems, she was there for me all the time. I wish I could even return the favor. She’s my caretaker, and I think that’s the hardest job in the world, and I repeat that to anybody: A patient, a spinal patient, quite frankly, has it easy; the caretaker has it the toughest.
My wife has been my caretaker, my strongest support system, helping me, and, even, at this point, she’s the one that will climb up on the roof, paint the house—take up the chores that, I don’t want to say that are generally associated with a man, but it’s not just a gender thing, it was the fact that because I couldn’t do those things that she took over. So that was a support system.
Also, my children. From early ages, when they were 3 and 5, they knew that their dad couldn’t some of the things that other people could do. So they helped around the house too. They recognized that. My children are now 41 and 37—they still come by to do things: chop some wood, clean the gutters on the roof.
That has been my true support system.
The other fortunate portion that I’ve had was that when I did join Spine-health, there were so many other people to talk to, and listening to other stories, and, for me, having the opportunity to help other people. I was lucky enough to have support systems, so I was strong—I wasn’t down, I wasn’t negative. But seeing other people that are so negative and so down and having the ability to talk with them and communicate with them and help some, to me, has even made my support system even stronger. If I have that was so down and now they’re so fortunate they write me a private email saying “Without your communications I would’ve really been down,” that makes my life so much better.
So, I think it’s people. That’s what you really need. That’s what your support system is all about.