When you meet with a neurosurgeon, you want him to be a certain set of things: A man. (Yes, I said it.) Direct. Military-like, even. Smart. Intuitive. A little wicked in his sense of humor. Interesting. Honest. Always honest.
Because when you meet with a neurosurgeon proactively in the hopes that he may offer some sort of answer to stop the progression of degeneration, or at least manage the unpredictable back blowouts that result in crippling pain (and life), you at least hope that his answer is, “Yes.”
And it is. It is called an extreme lateral, minimally invasive fusion. And you are a terrific candidate for it. Tomorrow if you so choose.
But then you keep talking and he keeps slinging physiology terms that you can keep up with because, little does he know, you had to learn all those words in graduate school, just like he did, so you hold your own, and as he scrolls through slice-by-slice of your spine on MRI images he comes across something that makes his eyebrows crinkle and your blood pressure spikes just a wee bit.
And, because you have had so many MRIs and your dad is almost-a-doctor in his level of knowledge based on what he’s had to learn, you look at the MRI image and while he’s pointing to an area you hardly ever look at on these images and he shows you it’s white, when it should be black and you think, “How on earth did I, and every doctor I’ve talked to in the past year, miss this?”
“Your lower spine has almost no muscle supporting it. It is almost completely fat down there – and this is highly unusual for people who are not morbidly obese, especially since you were exercising fairly regularly.”
“Well, how did this happen?”
“I have no idea. It’s odd, and a little troubling.”
“Can I fix it?”
“I think you should try. Very hard. But, I have no idea.”
The fact is this is troublesome. My head wants to tie a few other things together with this that may or may not make sense, but the outcome is still the same: You have my attention, Dr. Neurosurgeon. You have it FULLY.
I don’t know if I can fix this and a few other things, or how, but I’m damn sure going to try. It’s hard to explain, but some sort of switch has been flipped in my head and I now have this small list of very important things to do and adjust in my day-to-day life that feel awfully critical and, well, this is just how things are going to work from now on.
Today is Day Four.