This isn’t an autobiography, so I won’t describe every detail of my life—simply highlight the pivotal moments in my journey to where I am today. I married and had a son, but I saw him far less than I would have liked: to advance in the company, I was having to trade more and more of my time away, to the point of working 7 weeks away from home and then 3 weeks at home. Now I thought that “real living” would begin when I became a manager, sent to work in a different country. As a result, I had been working 8 years on a rotation schedule. The first 2 years I spent in hard physical labor, lifting heavy equipment and tools. It wasn’t a problem for me at the time—I was young and full of enthusiasm. But sometime during the 3 years since I had joined up, I had shifted to entirely office-based work. By then, all my physical activity had ceased, but then I began feeling lower back pain.
One day I stepped out of my office, slipped—and fell. The next day I couldn’t even struggle to my feet to open the door for my driver, who had brought me medicine. Instead, I crawled. The doctor confirmed: I had ruptured the disks in my lower back. I spent 2 weeks in the hospital recovering.
Finally, after 8 years working in my own country, my family and I were transferred to another country. For the first time, I did not have to work away from my family. We rented a large house, I bought my first car, and my wife become pregnant again. I learned how to play golf. Life seemed straight out of an American movie.
Then, one morning, after playing golf the day before, I found myself unable to stand straight—the lower back pain had returned. I couldn’t even walk to the car to take myself to the hospital; my pregnant wife had to help me get there. Again I spent 2 weeks recovering, this time at home, and received 3 shots directly into my discs under X-ray control. It was only 2 years since my previous episode.
Since then I found myself having a relapse every 2 years. I played no sports during this time—I was young and strong and scarcely felt the need. I smoked and drank, like most of those around me. Then we moved to a beautiful country in the Middle East, where we stayed 3 years. I learned to scuba dive, and I found myself captivated by this new pursuit. During our time there I went on more than 60 dives, and I dreamed of someday going on a scuba safari: several days spent scuba diving as part of a community as excited about the hobby as I was.
But after the 2014 crisis we were moved back to my home country. What’s more, my back was getting worse. Instead of acting up every 2 years, it began bothering me twice a year, in spring and autumn. That continued for 2 years, and my doctors warned me that I would need to find a good surgeon to remove my ruptured discs. Otherwise, I should expect my legs to lose feeling soon—even to stop moving. Back in 2006 my doctors had warned me that I should forget about participating in any active sports: no running, no cycling, no basketball, no volleyball—no sport that would put a vertical reciprocal load on my spine. Having never been a sportsman, I hadn’t minded. I even had an excuse to avoid sports entirely.
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