|The Road Not Taken
In 2002, I moved off campus to an apartment building in Virginia. Along with the 1.25 hr commute by bus/rail each way, the roommate situation didn't go smoothly as I had hoped or planned. You'd think in that situation, the solution was pretty clear: move closer to work and ditch the roommates. Easier said than done for me. It took a year of seeing a therapist to get my anxiety issues out in the open. Not only did I have an anxiety-triggered OCD-like behavior, but I had anxiety about life, namely "what if I make the wrong decision...will I land on my feet?"
Raise your hand if you've ever thought of this....
I was able to move out on my own after a year of asking that question over and over again and realizing that no decision was set in stone and that I could thrive or recover from any decision. I'm guessing even if you're not nodding your head that you've felt that doubt, there's a little part of you that has always wondered "What if I can't?" How many of you wonder something different -- "what if I can and do?" What if I make a decision that can't be undone?
science and technology to fix me up, that is, until I started educating myself about the science and technology. People would say "Why don't you just have surgery" as if it was similar to fixing a broken bone or having a mole removed. The short of the long of it is that our bodies are built to perfection (minus our appendix and tonsils). We're highly evolved machines, and science spends its time trying to figure out ways to come close to what evolution took thousands of years to do. In other words, even if I were to have spine surgery (fusion, disc replacement, discectomy) my spine and discs will never be as strong as they once were. It would also require extensive rehabilitation.
Even worse, there's something called Failed Back Surgery Syndrome. I've seen quotes anywhere from 20-60% (depending on the type of surgery) of back surgeries "fail" to alleviate pain. I have two coworkers that have had spine surgeries only to end up in more pain than they were before the surgeries. One coworker walks around hunched over and contorted to the side, the other walks with the assistance of a cane and he's not that much older than I am. Coupled with my doctor telling me to "use it til you lose it" -- I'm don't know what to do and I'm scared. And it's not the stupid anxiety of not knowing whether I can handle living alone, it's something that's logical to be afraid of.
Yep, you heard it right. The great FGvW is scared. Why? If I'm in this much pain, and my life is limited this much -- what will my life look like in the months before I "lose it"? Will I be one of the lucky people who has a successful spinal surgery? Then another part of me wonders if I'm being stubborn by trying to avoid surgery in the first place (especially with all the videos on youtube of people who have had success and resumed their lives).
I wish I had a crystal ball that would show me my outcomes--something better than statistical guesses.
Unlike the speaker in the poem above, I haven't decided on a path to take. I'm stuck at the fork.
How do you make a decision when everyone tells you the outcomes are a crapshoot?