Well, the nerve, it’s not so good. I had an MRI last week and saw Dr. Peter Nora for a neurosurgical consult on Monday. There’s no immediate damage or need for surgery, but the MRI showed a definitive herniation at L5-S1 (not my personal MRI, but a decent example of one like mine), just like I’ve had twice before. Dr. Nora strongly recommended I take several weeks to minimize prolonged periods of sitting and standing, to take pressure off the disk and give my body a chance to solve the nerve irritation on its own.
That’s a great idea, but what about work? I’m still quite mentally fit (aside from the foggy effects of taking Percocet to dull the pain) and didn’t relish the idea of spending 3 weeks staring at the ceiling. Luckily, Microsoft has a great HR and benefits team, and I have an understanding manager (who happens to be a long-time friend and is actually the very first person I met at Microsoft on my first day as an intern in 1995!). Together with my general doctor, we crafted a formal ‘accomodation’ plan that acknowledges my limitations and still allows me to work from home part-time (and account for the rest of my time with sick leave). This way I get to be productive, keep my mind off of my back, and yet not stress my system with long commutes or hours sitting at my desk. I’ve got a laptop at home and can use Apple Remote Desktop to drive my Mac Pro at work, and thus can do pretty much anything from my bed that I could do at work.
The one tricky thing is that as a development lead, I have several people who report to me, and I need to be able to meet with them on a regular basis. Handily enough, between the new A/V capabilities of Microsoft Messenger 7 and the nice corded mic on my cell phone, I can attend meetings and talk to all my direct reports face to face. I did a number of one-on-one meetings that way today, and it seemed to work rather well.
So, I’m spending my days lying on my nice comfy bed with a couple of pillows and a freaking hot MacBook Pro. Not exactly where I’d like to be, but given the circumstances, I’ll take that over a stay in the hospital or a blah view of my ceiling. And, *knock on wood*, with any luck I’ll avoid a third surgery and be physically back in the office soon.