"It Was One Year Ago Today That I Had My Surgery"


At 4:30 this morning we were half in and out of sleep. The anticipation of perhaps the biggest snowstorm since 1967 has everything catawampus.

“It was one year ago today that I had my surgery. We were getting ready to leave the house right about now.”

That was a bad dream.

We had the kids all set with their orders. When we left the house it was snowy and still dark. Doug could hardly walk. We were headed to Chicago’s Northwestern Hospital so they could replace his C6/C7 vertebrae with a “prestige disc” created by Medtronic. This bionic disc had only been in our country for 3 years. What makes it different than other device is that there is only a 6 week recovery time because the device is screwed into the adjoining vertebrae. So there’s little mending. AND … drum roll … because the device is a ball and hinge, the recipient retains 100% of his mobility. Quite important to someone who wants to swim the English Channel. You kind of need that 100% mobility.

We had visited many doctors and, as it turns out, the doctors at Northwestern were the only ones who could get this “prestige disc.” I’ll never forget the resassurance his doctor, John Song, gave us. “I am a neurosurgeon at Northwestern and I always get what I want.” Box checked. He was our guy.

That wintery day at Northwestern was scarey. The surgery took longer than expected, because of the crowded muscles in his neck. I sat alone in the waiting room for five hours, surrounded by a lot of people and a lot of tv screens. The silence was deafening. The view of Chicago was awesome. I had faith but I cried little cries that wouldn’t stop.

When it was over, John Song was the first person I saw. Doug was the second.

He was quiet and a little beaten up, but he was fine. Bad dream over.

I had promised not to take any pictures. But I didn’t promise not to shoot video. I have a short clip of Doug fresh out of surgery telling me that he is, officially, bionic. He didn’t even know I took it.

That’ll be coming up in a future post.

One year ago right now he was in surgery. Exactly one year later, as I write this, he is swimming 6,000+ yards at the YMCA. And he left the house when it was snowy and still dark.

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