On Friday, September 8th, I will be checking in to the local hospital for surgery on my back. This will be the 5th time, but the first at the cervical end of my spine; the part that holds my head on. The years that I made a lot of money by installing drywall ceilings have come back to haunt me. The weight of innumerable sheets of drywall pressing down on my spine, so many year ago, weakened the vertebrae and now they are pressing down on the many nerves that exit the spinal column at this level.
It's a fairly simple operation, microdiscectomy and fusion of 6 vertebrae. A few days in the hospital and then home with a brace to keep my head attached while the bone grafts grow into strong bones. I have looked at the entire operation on Neurosurgery TV and was amazed at how easily they perform such intricate surgery, all the while looking through a high powered microscope and wielding very small instruments and working within a 1" incision.
During the past few weeks I managed to make it to the age of 77. Watching American longevity dropping during the past decade, I'm happy to have made it this far. And thinking about that made me think of my life 70 years ago. I was in the 2nd grade at Center Street school in Manhattan Beach. At that age I was allowed to go as far as my legs would take me; except that I wasn't allowed to cross Sepulveda (101), about half a mile east of our house. There were sand dunes in every direction, but I used the sidewalk that would take me down the hill to downtown and then to the pier, about a mile away. Such great times...
September 18th...things have not gone exactly as planned. The surgery went well and I was surprised that I needed no brace. The vertebra, C2 through C6 are held together with titanium plates and that is supposed to be enough. Then, I was released on the 10th. we're pretty sure that was about 2 days too early. Later that night, I got up from bed, a mistake, and headed to the bathroom. I reached for the handrail but didn't have the strength to keep myself from falling into the side of the toilet. Sharp pain ensued. In no time at all I had a room full of firemen and EMT's. Back to the hospital I went, where X-rays determined that I had broken more than a few ribs on my right side.
I began another recuperation and was released from the hospital on the 15th. I feel very fragile at this point, though I do have a physical therapist, courtesy of Home Health. I have oxygen in just about every room. I have an oxygen cannula in my nose. Of course it could have happened to anyone...but it happened to me. Now I have to move on with my life. And I'm feeling stronger every day. I have to use a walker now, but that will soon change.