The man from the corridor appeared at my bedside. He grinned rather inanely at me lying there.
"I saw you the other day, in the corridor".
"Yes, yes I remember".
"I can't believe this, I have never ever seen this".
I looked at him, enquiringly.
"This surgery, I remamber you from the corridor, how bent you were, now you are straight, this is amazing, I have never seen this before".
He must have realised my confusion, for he grinned and machine gun like, shot out the details og who he was and why he was at my bedside.
"Oh Alan yes, to explain. I am Carl Wisner, I am an orthopaedic surgeon from California. I am doing a fellowship with Mr Webb, I was in theatre when you were done"
Ahh, I now understood, he explained how he saw me onthe corridor and realised I was the spondylitic to be staightened and was overcome with the procedure, how I began and how I ended.
We chatted a good while, he told me a remarkable story.
"I work in a partnership of three ortho surgeons in California", he said
"One of my partners has AS, he looks as you looked a few days ago, we have never seen this procedure".
He was clearly, obviously stunned at the procedure and its results.
"I am going to bring my partner to England to undergo this procedure"
A compliment indeed. Whether he brought his partner over or not I don't know. He took away to pre op pictures that I gave to him.
I spoke to him once a few years ago, by email.
J K Webb and Chris Caine arrived early one morning. J K W explained that the spondylitic actions which had caused me to need surgery would immediately start the bending process again. I had to remain as upright as possible, particularly straight after surgery. He/they proposed to put me into a plaster jacket, tha day. The orthotist arrived in the afternoon. I was taken in a wheelchair into his room. I then had to stand and he began the process of sealing me up. Problem was, I hadn't stood alone for more than a few moments at a time. I couild walk abit but standing still, with arms akimbo, so that he could get the bandages beneath my arms, was impossible, my legs shook and he allowed me to take breaks and sit whilst he measured and cut and trimmed. The other, and later, more serious problem was that sitting, was the most painful of all postures. The process was tiring, agonizing, long winded and particularly uncomfortable.
Eventually, I was done. I now had a carapace, an external skeleton, god it was awful, I hated it instantly. My already limited comfort was now impinged upon bwyonf any hope of relief from pain.
I was assisted into bed, I still needed to be log rolled, therefore was moved rather than moving. I was severely twisted at the operation site (grim)a few times because now there was no 'feel' as to what was moving and when.
My family arrived, my girls too, wow was so fabulous to see them.
"Dad, have you any biscuits left"?
"Dad can I have some lemonade please"?
Marvellous to see and hear them and to see that their lives had their own special important bits. Lemonade and biscuits, jolly excellent prescription for a pair of lovely girls.
They all laughed at me propped by now in the large chair at the side of the bed.
"Dad you look like a tortoise".
"Dad can I write on the plaster please".
It was a lovely evening I was fairly soon helped into bed by Ellen and the nurses since the chair was not at all comfortable.
Laying down on your back in a shell like plaster is weird, and a touch scary. I was unable to move, I felt utterly trapped. I hated this thing, it had been on for a mere few hours, I had to wear it for 6 months, I was really concerned that I would not be able to get through it.
Family left. I was assisted out of bed and went to the loo, another novel experience!
Walking back to the bed, Chris Caines 'leg pains' hit me. A sudden spasm in the back of the hip, so excrutiating that I (yes again) screamed but in terror realised that I was face down on the floor and screaming like a baby, the nursing cavalry arrived post haste, Jenny Sycamore, reassuring as ever, directed operations and I was raised from the floor and carried to bed.Once flat onthe bed, and all breathing a little easier, spasm 2 hit me and this was twice as bad as the first, Stan in blue 3 woke up and yelled at me to shut up. I was very rude to him, entirely unlike me actually, then spasm 3. By spasm 4 I was left leg on floor, right leg on bed and the rest of me somewhere between, held by 2 nurses. There were 23 spasms that night. Without question it was the most agonising night of my lifethen and now. As I sit and type this, I remember every spasm, every word from every nurse. I use the word 'Grim' a lot. This night was truly as grim as could be.
Chris Caine (Cannever remember whether he is Caine or Craine, I keep looking it up, but I immediately forget!
Morphine by the gallon was administered. Eventually I collapsed into fitful and grateful sleep. Next morning CC was there first thing.
"Alan do oyu need anything?"
"No not at the moment Doc.".
The orthotist arrived, He and Chris Craine removed the tortoiseshell. It had been on, less than 24 hours........thank God
The battle wasn't over yet, the spasms hadn't disappeared, but i did get a nice new jacket out of the deal.....oh there it is just below....