Saturday, October 04, 2003

COUP de ...Foudre ? Grace ?

Suddenly, as in bolt from the blue and probably dozens of other cliches, my life changes. Veers from its dull path. A fateful intersection, laden with contingency, shakes everything up. Last Saturday, the universe ganged up on me and sent a SUV-driving, cell-phone yammering Floridian my way. Thanks a bunch, universe.

At that instant, though, all I saw was a hurtling automotive missile headed from the other lane toward me. Oh, shit, I thought, and the impact was as bad or worse than I'd anticipated, and whatever part of me was untethered flew right, and the neck pain I felt I knew, immediately, was NOT good.

Poor DK. I left him a cell phone message, which I later heard, me rambling about being "whaled into," having neck pain, but being "all right." This coup de foudre has also bolluxed his week -- barely finished music and three rehearsals before Sunday's Cadence recording at Tsai.

Anyway, I think the airbags deployed. Wispy white smoke wreathed about, and I concluded the car would soon explode, so I manged to turn the key and crawl out the passenger door. I vaguely recall walking around in small circles yelling a lot, then decided to calm down and sit on the sidewalk and await rescue. Some tall tattooed dude with a ponytail peered down at me and, I think, apologized. Others were milling about, not grievously hurt. I announced I was a doc could I help anyone, and someone told me that someone had glass in her foot. I left that for fire and rescue. Who arrived and hauled me off to the Beth Israel ER. And brought poor Little Meanie, who'd been in her cat carrier in the back seat, back to the vet's office.

14 hours later, after more xrays, CTs, MRIs and MRAs than one would think possible, I was diagnosed with a C2 foramen transversarium fracture, vertebral artery intact deo gratias, and unloaded into a blissfully soft hospital bed WITH pillow (oh heaven) and a few hours of sleep.

I never saw a senior neurosurgeon. I'm told he saw my films. The residents seemed absurdly young. They said: wear a hard collar for 3 months. (They had raised the specter of a halo vest or surgery so I was relieved.) Have a neck xray in 1 month. But, I countered, the plain films didn't show the fracture ! They replied: it's to look for displacement. That was not reassuring.

I asked: what about sex.

They said: Sure, just don't swing from the chandeliers.

Oh, the callowness of youth.

My always-wonderful, ever-attentive PCP got me an impossibly speedy appt. with a Brigham neurosurgeon who deemed the fracture minor, said six weeks of collar, and will see me again in 3 weeks after a morning of xrays, nuclear med and CT scans.

DK's ever-sensitive pediatric neurologist brother asked him: Is it a Hangman's Fracture ?

So what's the pragmatic bottom line ? No work for a month.
Tylenol works. The collar, though not my favorite thing, isn't too bad. It is possible to sleep in it (with a little help from valium.) I have about 30 weeks of accumulated sick and vacation time.

So here I am. Grateful to be relatively intact, grateful for my husband, my friends, my family, for everyone who took care of me.

Let's leave it there for now: gratitude.

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