If my bones were pliant, he’d cut little “doors” in three vertebrae, propping each open with a tiny titanium doorstop, so there would be room for the compressed spinal cord to shy away from that bone spur spearing it from the front.
But, if the bones broke, he’d have to fuse the whole thing with a titanium plate and rods. That second possibility made me worried I’d end up as limber as the tin-man.
So when I came to, after three hours, and learned that Plan A worked, and nothing had to be fused, I was ecstatic. Doctors would ask me how I was — doped up, bandaged over, with stents in each arm and a drain and a catheter — and I’d mumble, “ecstatic.”
Strange. Newspapers review every new burger joint and off-Loop musical, yet never rate hospitals. Let’s fix that. I spent three full days and nights at Northwestern. The surgical care was excellent. The post-surgical care was ... quite good, with exceptions.
The dividing line seemed to be what each thought his or her job was. Those who saw themselves as tending to the person in room 1009 — aka, me — were sympathetic and attentive. When they went off shift it was like saying goodbye to an old friend. Some, however, seemed to be merely ticking off boxes — go into Room 1009, collect a blood sample, then get out.
A couple close-but-no-cigar moments, like the aide who brought the water I requested but then placed the cup just out of my reach and fled. I thought of that skeleton sprawled before a pitcher in “Snow White” as my fingers quivered toward the cup and I wondered whether pushing the extra few inches would roll me onto the floor.
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|A few "close-but-no-cigar" moments.|