I have been making sure that I keep my children informed about it. It’s coming and I want them to know and not be afraid but to embrace it with the same spirit I am.
Oh, wait, you don’t know about it. OK. In all the confusion of the past 24 hours I forgot to write “part 2” of my story from last night. Where was I? Let’s see… I didn’t want my wife to see me in such abject pain and suffering… She had advised me to call the doctor. I called the doctor. OK.
Wilma (my mother-in-law) and I drove over to the doctor’s office. It’s at a place called Medical City. As a medical junkie, I kind of love this place. I mean, it’s a whole city made of medicine. I love it. In reality, it’s a very large hospital complex in Dallas. It’s where Larry Hagman died. And, it’s where my doctors are located.
And these doctors, after hearing of my night offered me the following advice.
“We can get you in tomorrow. Friday at the latest.”
It took me a second, too. Yep, they were saying they wanted to get me in to the operating room for another spinal fusion the next morning. You see, what had happened to me last night; yeah, that… Wasn’t supposed to happen. I wasn’t wrong to be freaked at how rapidly it had progressed. Perhaps I had torqued my body in my sleep and the bulging disc had done a number on ALL the nerves in BOTH legs. Perhaps. Of the three surgeons in this practice, I had been in the personal care of two of them. Guess what? The third guy, the one looking at all of my information “blindly” made the call that this disc needed to come out yesterday. Although I appreciate that the other two wanted to try to help me avoid surgery for a while, I knew it was just a matter of time. I feel like we were actually playing with fire in not trying to schedule this a while ago. The bottom line, though, is that all three of these guys recognized that NOT doing anything was now not an option. They could medicate me and send me home but what would happen the next time I twisted myself in a benign way in my sleep and ended up paralyzed?
So Wilma and I asked a bunch of questions. I insisted that I could make it through the weekend. This is because I had to talk to my students. You see, the recovery period is three months, effectively taking me past the end of the school year. I remarked to Wilma that this reminded me so much of thirteen years ago when my own mom would drive me to my doctors appointments and sit with me and ask questions. Then, afterwards, she and I would go to the diner. Ah, gotta’ love Jersey! I was young, unmarried, a little scared. Heck, I was still in the seminary! Wilma, after asking a few more pertinent questions like how long I could expect to stay in the hospital, took me to lunch at Luby’s. It really was like the old days.
In any event, I called my mom on the ride home to tell her. Did I mention that I cried again? Yeah, I’m sorry guys… I promise I am not normally that emotional. But somewhere around the time the doctor said “We need to get this done” and “We can get you in tomorrow”, the immediacy of the moment hit me. Yes, I had been waiting, even hoping that a doctor would take me seriously and opt to operate. After last night I was REALLY hoping that moment was upon us. But hearing the words that indicate the man in front of you is going to cut a five inch incision into your lower abdomen and that you have exactly two days to straighten out your affairs before he does it? That’s scary, dammit. I cried. Wilma grabbed me the tissues. Again, I’m so glad she was with me. And yes, she did “hold my hand” through the visit.
OK, then, so where was I? Ah, right… I was telling you that I’ve been telling them. I’ve been keeping the son and daughter up to date. I don’t want them to be scared of Daddy going into the hospital. God forbid something terrible happen to me. It’s not entirely impossible. I don’t want them scarred. That’s why I’m doing a lot of writing. I want them to be able to look back and never doubt how much their old man loves them.
Toward that end, my daughter handed me a book she found on her bookshelf. I have not read this particular book to her before and I detest being called “Papa”. I’m not a smurf. But you know what? For you, Baby Girl and you, Sonny Boy… as soon as Daddy’s spine is back in tip-top shape, you bet your bottom dollar I’m gettin’ the moon and anything else you’d like. That’s why I’m doing all this. Because I love you.
Next time… I’ll tell you all how I walked 160 17 year-old’s through this story.