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'We have it to do' said Mel. She always said it. We had been paired in a pretend teaching practice. Well there were three of us actually, Lyn the other, but she was only onthe course becasue she was having an affair with the lecturer, best not mention their real names here. In essence the lesson was downto Mel and me. Crime and punishment was the topic, we did a whole thing on James Hanratty, the whys and wherefores. When we had done we had persuaded the class that Hanratty should have been acquitted, I still believe it today.(ok Mig, go on, Google Hanratty-then you will see why acquittal would have been important!)
I became friends with Mel, a blunt talking woman, why dont you get your back straightened? She looked me inthe eye. Ohh they cant do that, there is no procedure I said. Crap she said. go to your doctor tell him you want surgery, when he says you cant, quote the patient charter at him....
Well I am not much of a quoter at the best of times, and certainly not to the doc, but onthe other hand. Mel wasn't the sort of person you argued with......cripes. what's that saying a rock and a hard place or something!
Well it so happened that I had, a year or so before I met Mel,toyed with the idea of asking about being straightened up. I mentioned it to someone, can't rememer who, but whoever it was instantly without pause, regaled me with tales of all of the ...plegias' I would get if I did, so I was put off. Rather like some on KA to this day, I weighed the life I had with AS progressing against the risks of surgery, on balance, I took the view that AS would be the lesser of the two evils.
I did nothing.
How though to respond to Mel, each week,
'Alan, we have it to do'.
Have you seenthe doctor, what did he say, what did you say, tell him he's an idiot......... Always a twinkle in her eye often we sat and drank coffee in the break, she would tell me tales of what it is like to deliver ababy, what were her thoughts about being gay and thereby unlikely to have children and so it went, and, so did I. To my doctor. TM we will call him.
Dry mouthed I sat in his room, Hi Alan, yes he calls me Alan we are quite friendly, what can I do for you? I want surgery on my spine to straighten me up........You are too old. Well I still want it. I am not sure if it can actually be done. Well will you find out I said. Alan this kind of surgery is very stressful, you are 42, this is big big stuff. Nevertheless, I said, a vision of Mel in my mind, sat at coffee demanding to know the latest developments. Yes I will said TM, I will refer you to the queens, (QMC) and he did.
Mel was thrilled and then started sitting with someone else for coffee. Not as an affront to me but it was with a rather stunning looking other nurse LK, I think Mel quite errrr.......liked her!
was summoned to Harlow Wood, the spinal unit was based there as I began this journey, it was switched to the queens fairly soon after. At this first visit, the stage was set for the coming metamorphosis.
J K Webb, the surgeon met me. (For info J K Webb developed the procedure of spinal osteotomy which is used world wide, but more of that later)
He stood at the side of me. Stand up as straight as you can he says. I am doing, says I. His huge hand then whacked against my knees, the knees went back, the legs straighter than for years, the shoulders neck and head tumbling forward and dow........that's you real shape. says he.......Jesus.........says I Imagine you are at the side of a busy road and want to cross says he. keep your legs straight and look across the road (well I must say here that there wasn't really a road in the examination room, it was a pretend one you see!!!!! I dont think there are many examination rooms in spinal clinics with roads through them, well of course there may be......
Of course, I had no hope of lloking across the road, imaginary or otherwise. A dawning of true and desperate realisation of the real me, and the knowledge that it could and would get worse.
JK then looked me inthe face, yes legs were bent again and head a little higher,
"What do YOU want ME to do" he said, then stared me in the eyes.
"I want YOU to straighten ME up" said I.
Ok, then we will............wow...........wow.....was this happening...
His two assistant docs had been messing with me and drawing things on me (Schobers test) (spelling) and importantly onthe lifesize xrays that had been taken that morning.
WHat are you doing? in an icy tone............well we are working out the angles snivelled one lowly trainee, well they are wrong, this is a mans spine ypu are dealing with, you cant work out the angles. you get the angles right......( If you look at my xrays on this site you will actually see the lines they made that day) it was a bit embarrasing so during his little dig at the trainees, i was busily counting the fascinating green carpet tile and trying not to be noticed, which, is difficult whrn you are a rounded over 6 feet 5 almost naked man in a room occupied only by 3 other men..
Was thrilled, elated. I knew that TM had come through for me, as he always does, and that they were going to do it.......wow..........I saw Mel the following Wednesday, told her all, she was back to coffeeing with me, I guess her overtures elswhere were perhaps in the wrong key!
I told her all.
She touched my elbow, smiled, super, she said let me know all as it happens, I was summoned to the QMC a month later, with instructions to take my lungs with me and at least one ear as well, breathing was the thing and they were going to test it, but why, would one need an ear.....