September 10, 2011
There’s no place like home.
That phrase is always accompanied by a syrupy sweet and nostalgic mental movie soundtrack. It is scratchy from being frequently played upon the return from vacations or necessary trips away from a place that is part of my mental movie location, home.
Friday afternoon , home scared me.
Having been cocooned quietly in my hospital room for four days, moving around physically very little, I realized that I had slowed all of my movements down. I moved with a walker a few feet to a sink or restroom. I had iPad, TV remote, water bottle, phone and nurse call button within reach. I was comfortably confined and reasonably free from falling. I was unlikely to destabilize my spine further. I was losing weight and muscle tone. I was safe.
I had to go home because I needed to be released from Saint Joseph’s Hospital so that I could be admitted to Northside Hospital two days later on Sunday. I would be having back surgery 8:00 am, Monday morning at The Spine Center at Northside Hospital. This is the home base for my team of neurosurgeons, Peachtree Neurosurgeons.
Home caused concerns. I didn’t have every item I required within reach of my arm or a call button and I didn’t want to bother my family with requests. Having not walked or bent much for several days, I was weak. Afraid that I would fall and cause further damage, I quit thinking about the “what ifs” and walked into my home, mental soundtrack accompanied with walker-scrape.
I found a new perch upon which to rest and recreated a comfort zone. Looking around the gardens and the rooms, I moved slowly, but with a new flash of joy. The fear has left me and I blog away, thinking about that exotic mail from Tunis.
The goal of the surgery Monday is to stabilize the vertebra above and below the collapsed T9 vertebra. The T9 vertebra was the one destroyed by the isolated Plasmacytoma cancer lesion. After my eighteenth radiation treatment today, all of my doctors feel that most of the lesion has been destroyed. The surgery Monday will also take care of obvious, remaining lesion tissue, if present. The stabilization surgery will involve the installation of titanium bracing and the implantation of bone morphogenetic proteins as a collagen matrix that forms bone. The BMPs are a new product of recombinant DNA that has been a breakthrough for orthopedic applications. Back in 1994, my C3/C4 discectomy utilized a transplant of my pelvic bone between the vertebra. This painful component will not be used in 2011.
Dr. Max Steuer performed the 1994 discectomy on me when he was just establishing his reputation as one of the best, high profile neurologists in the Southeast. I was getting started as a new school principal in the Cherokee County Public Schools. Dr.Steuer went on to perform several high profile neurological procedures that received favorable notice in the media. He is the senior physician in Peachtree Neurosurgeons. Dr.Thomas Morrison, Dr. Steur’s colleague, will lead the operation Monday as this fusion surgery is his specialty.
I find it reassuring that seventeen years after an important surgery, there will be so much competence and technology at work during my new back surgery. I can only know that there is a guidance, direction, and care that has fallen into place and mystifies me. Deeply, I know, that the union of technology, hope, and a higher power have aligned to help me in a time of great need.
After, I settled for the evening at home, reassured that I was in my best place with the people and hope that nurture me, I went into the heaviest sleep that I have had in days. Awaking with some confusion, I decided to “send the mail” and write an updates post. It is late, but I am happy again, with the mental movie soundtrack of “There’s No Place Like Home” fading into the background noises of a house that I know so well.