Greetings and Felicitatious Salutations to All!
I don't normally write these kinds of mass mailings, but
writing the same thing over and over, is more than a bit much
right now. So that's my one and only excuse.
The news here @chez_ivalides:
Alan and I left about 11:00 on Sun August 15 for Duke U.
Medical Center in Durham to have his ruptured disc at L1-L2
fixed. Although there was no construction nor major road
restrictions, the trip was physically rugged on both of us.
On Tue at 9:00 AM on Mon, Alan had the standard Preop workup
after which we both went back to the motel room to rest and
make a few phone calls. A visit with out neurosurgeon/neurologist
Dr. Michael M. Haglund at 4:00 who explained the details of the
procedure: left hemilaminectomy and disection. Anybody who knows
what that means can skip the following paragraph.
hemilaminectomy and disection: The first part isn't exactly
what is says; a small portion of left L1 lamina is resected
to allow access to the area of the L1-L2 disc. Fortunately,
the HNP was whole and still attached to the disc's remaining
internal nucleus. The external portion was removed, and the
remaining internal portion was almost completely vacuumed out
through the aperature of herniation which was a bit larger than
I thought. The roundness of the disc prevents getting all of
it, so for a while Alan will have to wear a corset and prevent
compression of the disc for about two weeks. All sutures were
dissolving. The idea is that within not too long a period the
aperature will actully close and seal itself. The annulus
of the disc remains in place, and the forminal arches look good,
So with with care right now so that things heal properly, there
should be no reason why there should be any future problems at
Everything went as planned with nothing unexpected. Alan having
learned from my experience with the self administered morphine
that the nurses seem to to push on you, used none and was better
of for it, so by the time he was in his room he was alert and
only still slightly sedated from the anesthesia.
DUMC is one of four finest hospitals in the world, with more
technological and procedural advances than even god knows about.
It is also enormous with trains and buses to link its parts.
The hospital alone is about as big as Cornell U. You measure
its size in acres. It is also a zoo; how things get coordinated
(a lot by computer) and how the people who work there maintain
sanity is still a wonder to me. Although the nursing staff is
wonderful, its not a place that will coddle you, but it is a
place where you can get the finest in surgical procedures that
has ever been possible. That's why, despite the six hour drive
across to NC, we chose it and our specific neurosurgeon. He's
kept entirely too busy for me to know whether he's a real person
or not. Who cares? He's a brilliant neurosurgeon. Selecting
him was first; DUMC was merely a consequence of that choice.
I was going to stay in the room with Alan, but since everythig
was clearly in good shape and the night nurse (Missy) whose
name is the same as Alan's lovely sister was obviously going
to take good care of him during the night, I dragged myself
back to the motel room and slept until Alan's call that he was
going to be released that day, Wed Aug. 18, the day after
surgery. When I arrived at the motel, some very nice lady,
also waiting for the elevator looked me up and down and smiled
kindly while she said "Boy - you must have had some day".
We talked briefly, my parting wish was neither of us should have
I was managing to hang on, but getting up that Wed. AM, just
how physically useless I am crashed in on me. Just getting
out of bed os sheer agony. Every muscle in my body ached and
did *not* want to function. Only the thought that before
nightfall we would both be home produced motion.
Just leaving the hospital was a zoo, precipitated by the fact
that my legs were practically buckling under me and did not
want to move. We got a cab to get back to the motel, exactly
one block away. Wisely, we travelled very lightly and managed
to leave the motel at 11:43 AM.
On alternaing driving Alan discovered that he was more stable and
therefore more comfortable driving, so he took the last leg from
Hickory to home. That turned out to be just as well since we hit
a traffic jam just past Asheville, and I negotiated a work around
through Canton and Clyde to get us onto the Smoky Mountain Expressway.
Finally, at Stechoah in Graham County, Alan couldn't stand even the
driving, so I took it from there to home.
As we were both crawling from the car, one the managers of the
complex where we live (thanks Bob) almost rushed over to help
anyway he could. So typical of here - I knew we were home and
why here is home.
At least, Alan is now out of the agony zone and should be mended
in this respect within a month or so since the surgery was
minimally invasive, has a good chance of causing no side effects,
and being a permenant solution to the problem.
To say that the trip back was an ordeal for both of us is an
understatement. Once again, of course, I would like to thank
State Farm Insurance for these instructive ordeals of agony.
"Was mich nicht umkehrt, das macht mich staerker" - F. Nietzche
Our Very Best to All
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Hammel v. State Farm Diary
Uncivilization and its Discontents
at: bhammel AT graham DOT main DOT nc DOT us
The URL for this document is:
Created: August 20, 1999
Last Updated: May 28, 2000