Friday 30 Sep 2016

A Little Rebuilding
AJ Robinson

My wife went in for a little “reconstructive surgery” this week. She suffered chronic back pain for a long time; we knew an operation was in her future. We’ve just been trying to put it off, as we knew it was risky and painful. She tried lasers, medications and even water aerobics. Still, there came a time when all of those efforts proved pointless.

Surgery was called for.

The first step was a series of tests she had to undergo. Everything from heart tests to an MRI and x-rays. Then I had to drive her to the hospital and we began the check-in process. It took a while to get all the documentation and paperwork done, but we finally got her up to the right floor.

Then there were heavy-duty preparations for the surgery. She had to get into the classic hospital gown that opens in the back. I tried to tie it up tight.

She got in the bed and the various nurses went through their paces in preparing her. There finally came the time when I had to step outside, into the waiting room, and start waiting. It helped that our friend, Sharon, was there, too.

Sharon and I got lunch. Afterward, we found things to do in the waiting room. I tended to my writing there can never be a free moment that I’m not writing.

The doctor told us the operation would last three to five hours. It was nearly six hours before the surgeon called us into the conference room to tell us how it had gone. My palms were very wet, sitting there, waiting for him. I’d spent the day waiting, and yet this seemed like the longest wait yet!

Finally, he came in, and gave us the report. The operation had gone well. The implants were in place, titanium replacements for a couple of her vertebra, the bone graft worked fine and all the screws and other hardware were working fine. It would be a while before she was in post-operative and so we went and got dinner.

Then we had our first look at my wife. She looked okay, but was in a lot of pain, mega-pain, and she was disoriented. It was all Sharon and I could do not to burst out laughing.

Poor Jo, that’s my wife, asked the same questions about half a dozen times! Even after we told her she’d asked them before, she didn’t remember us telling her that. It was understandable; she was incredibly groggy.

Jo was also very thirsty. One of the medications given her caused extreme dry mouth. Sharon and I fed Jo ice chips, while we waited for her room to be prepared. Long about ten o’clock, she was moved to her room and we finally said good night.

As I drove home, I couldn’t help but think about how lucky we were to have government health insurance. As my wife is on disability and any costs, such as surgery, she incurs are fully covered, unlike my daughter and me. I work part-time; I don’t get healthy insurance through my work.

Thus, I spent a good amount of time online, registering through the Affordable Care Act on the healthcare exchange. Is it going to be perfect? Naw, I doubt it. It is a first step in getting adequate health coverage. Who knows, maybe someday people will get as good health insurance as my wife has. Sure, we have co-pays on her tests and hospital stay, and they’ll be more to pay for her rehab, but at least those costs won’t break us.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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