Yesterday, Lisa and I went over to San Francisco for a consultation with a neurosurgeon. It was also a chance for us to (finally) meet my case manager in person. The visit was as eye-opening for her as it was to Lisa and me.
Up until now, my workers' comp insurers have been planning my case based on my original surgeon's assessment that I will reach my maximum improvement in January. This, despite the fact that my physiatrist and everyone else I've talked to, say that recovery from this type of injury can take 18 months to three years (or more). It would seem that the insurance company will be resetting its calendar for my case.
The other revelation from this exam is the news that the hardware in my back is subject to metal fatigue and breakage over the course of time. All we ever heard before on this subject was that my surgeon did not, as a rule, remove the hardware once the backbones successfully fused together. Immediately, both Lisa and I imagined metal rods violently snapping, etc. Fortunately, these failures are most often discovered when people complain of an increase in back pain and x-rays detect the trouble. Minimally invasive surgery is usually the remedy. Not a huge worry.
But then nothing causes a huge worry, lately. When you wake up in a hospital bed, as I did, with very little access to sensation or control below the waist, most other setbacks seem small in contrast and anything you recover is a gift.
In the wide-ranging conversation we had yesterday with my case manager, we discussed the results of my vocational rehabilitation assessment. Getting some kind of job has been very much on my mind lately but I keep running into some formidable obstacles. What I need is a job where I can work between 2 and 6 hours a day, maybe 2 to 4 days a week (depending on my strength and pain levels). A job where I can take the day off whenever I need to and suddenly hang up on people so I can make it to the bathroom. A desk, and probably a comfortable couch, within 15 feet of the bathroom. A job where it won't matter if my medication temporarily renders me a brain-dead zomboid. A job where no one will mind if I attend meetings lying down. I've consulted the list again and ruled out reptile farmer and a few others. Any ideas?