I am overwhelmed by the comments on Leslie’s last post. It feels a little strange being so forthright about this spine surgery thing because it’s really not that big a deal (he says, as he makes a big deal, as usual, about something that’s not); as I write I’m aware of several friends living with cancer, and one about to lose the battle. It’s hard not knowing what to say about that. So I just want to say thank you to everyone who sent good wishes. They were all appreciated, even the one subtly criticizing my beard (which was actually right on).
As Leslie said, I was pretty anxious about having surgery, but feel lucky to have had a great experience all the way around. The neurosurgeon, Dr. Hajjar, did a great job. He’s not known for his affability; I saw him for 30 seconds before he operated (most of which consisted of me asking if I could play my bagpipes soon, and his saying yes) and about a minute the next morning. But it was immediately clear to me when I was aware of my body that the pain was gone.
Dr. Hajjar is one of the surgeons who owns Treasure Valley Hospital in Boise. Having lived in Boise for 12 years, and having commuted past TVH on my bicycle for 9 years, and with a wife in health care, it’s weird to think I had no idea the hospital was even there. It’s only one floor, very small and tucked away in the back of a sort of semi-industrial park not far from the mall. What made it a good experience, in addition to the outcome, was the people working there. Angela and Carolyn in Registration; Kelsey the nurse aid who set me up in pre-op; the very, very affable nurse Amy who did all the computer charting and IV setup and had me do this “incentive” inhaling thing and seemed impressed with my lung capacity, and shared with us the fact that 20 years ago she’d flown through a windshield and has suffered for the last 17 years tiny shards of glass slowly and painfully erupting through the skin on her face and head; Jackie, the other nurse who IV’d my left arm which played vein hide-and-seek from the 20-gauge needle; Todd the anesthesiologist who looked like an ultramarathoner and was very calm and clear about what was about to happen; Georgette the pharmacist who charmingly cleared the path for post-op prescriptions; the OR nurse Christine who, even though she had her surgical scrub cap on reminded me of Tina Nicely, a really good friend from junior high even though she’d thrown the apple core at Kevin Hoagland which he thought I’d thrown and punched my lights out for it right there on the asphalt volleyball court (the only “fight” I’ve been in); the night shift RN LeeAnna who made me laugh at 3:50 a.m. with a story of her 3-year-old diving headfirst off of an 8-foot bookshelf onto their couch and bouncing across the living room; the night CNA Melanie who moved like a cat waking me several times without really waking me; the morning RN Matt who knew his job as well as anyone in any occupation I’ve ever met; the morning CNA Eliza who walked us to the car in the sleet and carried my stuff and greatly simplified Matt’s directions to the place we had to go to get a back brace. I mention this in case anyone in the area is looking for a good place to go for an operation. I think they even have several of those machines that go “ping!”
So, not your typical hunting account. Apologies if you were hoping for something more interesting. But I really feel compelled to say how moved I am by the graciousness of strangers, especially in a world that, if all you knew of it came from the news, would seem hopeless, cruel, and pointless.
Speaking of hopeless, cruel, and pointless: there is one thing I feel obliged to mention. Possibly the worst thing about this for me, even worse than the soreness from the surgery and the unknown recovery road ahead, is that I’m not allowed to sleep with my dogs, which also means my wife (no — she’s not a dog; she sleeps with them because they can’t not sleep with at least one of us. It’s in our bylaws). Leslie pointed out that it’s a bit ironic that the last post I wrote was about sleeping with dogs. I had no idea this was going to be a thing or I might not have had the surgery. It’s only temporary (about a week), but it does hurt. Peat told me he’s not very happy about it, especially the hurtful implication that he’s unclean; I felt it imprudent to mention the coprophagia. Anyway, I hope he’ll get over it, and I will try my best.
Finally, I’m extremely blessed that Leslie is here to take care of me. It puts a lot of things in perspective. I might learn something useful. And I hope the weather clears soon so she can take the dogs and herself hunting and get a well-deserved, hard-earned break from my sorry ass before the season ends.