My favorite expression lately, said with a slight smile, is “parts wear out.” For those who know me well, it’s just a smile back. For others out there, let me translate: Neurosurgery, lumbar region.
This all probably began longer ago than I realized, but it has made itself quite evident over the last 16 months. Of course, other alternatives like physical therapy and epidural injections were tried (as were appropriate), but without any success in my case. Various other tests were done before finally, I found myself standing, at long last, at the front of the imaginary line whispering under my breath, “YAY!”
My neurosurgeon (and his partner) perform this type of surgery only one day a month. What is normally a five-hour surgery time for one surgeon, is reduced to two hours with two surgeons (less exposure/risk to the patient) while two holes are drilled into the lumbar region and metal tubes are inserted on either side of the spinal column. All of the surgery is done through those two little tubes — unbelievable when you think about what they are trying to accomplish in such a very small area with such great constraints!
The first things that were fixed were the smoothing off of the bone spurs that were pressing on nerve roots and causing pain to radiate down my legs whenever I stood. The second (and more complicated procedure) was to prop open a collapsed disk (and fix a fracture) by inserting two rods and four screws to stabilize the area between L4 and L5. To my great relief, they have assured me that I’m not likely to spring airport security measures to life – thank goodness.
That night, I was awake every few hours, either for vitals or to take more meds, but I had a wonderful night nurse, Nikki, who made it all the more pleasant and who had a caring and upbeat personality. They should give find a way to clone her. She truly was amazing!
The next day, I “exceeded protocol” by being able to walk unassisted down the hallway (nobody has ever called me an “under-achiever!”), so I got “sprung” from the confines of the hospital, knowing I would do better in my own environment and on my own terms.
You know, a lot has been said about health care lately and I’m sure we’re going to hear a great deal more about it between now and the election. I, for one, think there’s a ton of things “broken” about the system — most of which is traceable directly back to the lobbyists for which we have absolutely no need for in the digital age.
But one thing I will say is that I felt — just for that one night in the hospital — like the luckiest girl on the planet. My primary care physician was there as they began my anesthesia and wheeled me down to surgery, and he was there in recovery, sitting next to my bed, holding my hand in his, as I awoke from the procedure. My neurosurgeon was there, too, before surgery and afterward, and reported to my husband that he thought on a scale of one to ten, my surgery was a “ten-out-of-ten.” I will need to thank him when I next see him, for his care, compassion and, above all, his miraculous hands!
Those two gentlemen, my friends, are what isn’t broken in our medical system and they will forever have my gratitude.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I’m charged with taking small walks every day, getting my range of motion to improve, and upping the endurance levels. Certainly enough to keep me busy ….
To my friends here in America – and across the pond – Shabbat Shalom!
Until we meet again …