Not Again

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Hi! This is a story I started several years ago, but it got shelved for some reason. I have to give a shout-out to Broken Spokes — the wonderful “Hard Landing” series with Blue and Jo reminded me that I had this, so I dug it out of the cellar.

This is another slow-start tale. If you’re just looking for a quick “We met…we had sex…we broke up” story, this probably isn’t for you. No problem! Just skip this, and I promise I won’t go pout about it. If you’ve read any of Gina and Tammy’s tales, you know I like to let my characters tell the story. I’m just here to make the pointy stick thing put their words on paper.

All the characters are over the age of 18, and entirely fictional. Resemblance to any real person or place is unintentional. Comments and suggestions are always welcomed.

1

I barely had time to glimpse the grille of the delivery van bearing down on me before the impact threw me violently to the right, the seat belt being the only thing keeping me from flying through the window. Crunching metal and shattering glass sounds filled the air, slowly fading as I fell down a dark tunnel. When I finally crawled my way back up, the most intense pain I’ve ever felt shot through my body from my left leg. Fuck, it hurts!

The grille of an Angry Van is staring through my driver’s window, its motor still roaring as it keeps trying to reach me, to destroy me. On my right, the dazed driver of the car mine was smashed against stares blankly straight ahead. Clouds of steam from my engine obscure the view of the clear blue sky from where my windshield used to be. Shouts and screams from somewhere are adding to the mayhem around the wreck.

I need to get out of here! Why can’t I move? God, my leg hurts!

The blackness gives me blissful relief again. I’m so cozy here, but something is pulling at me, not letting me enjoy the peaceful darkness. I opened my eyes again, and two men in canvas coats and funny hats are kneeling on my hood, peering in at me. One of them is shaking my shoulder, and I hear him shouting “Miss? Miss, are you okay? Wake up, miss. What’s your name?”

Through gritted teeth, I growled “Jeri! My fucking leg hurts! Help me!” The one shaking me said “Okay, Jeri. I’m Mike, and we’re paramedics. You’ve been in a bad wreck, Jeri, and we’re working as fast as we can to get you out.” Voices are yelling in the background, and I hear one say “Get the Jaws!” Mike is trying to unbuckle my seat belt, but the damn thing refuses, so he gets a utility knife and cuts the straps.

Angry Van’s motor is still racing, intent on getting through the sheet metal of my door to finish me off. Mike is half in, half out of my car, checking me over. I tasted blood, and told Mike. He said “Jeri, you’ve got a small cut under your eye, that’s the blood you taste. It’s not bad. Your left leg is caught on something. We’re going to have to cut the roof off of the car to get you out. Jeri, it’s going to get noisy and crazy for a few minutes. Hang on, I know it hurts like hell, but we’ll get you out.”

Mike put a blanket over my head and shoulders. Someone finally shut that goddamn Angry Van off. The shrieking of metal being cut and ripped drowned out the sounds of the crowd and the hydraulic motor of the Jaws of Life. I felt the sun even through the blanket when the roof was peeled back and pushed aside.

Mike removed the blanket, then he and his partner stood on either side of me, their hands grabbing me under my arms. The slightest movement created a new wave of pain from my leg, and when they started lifting me up, I squeezed my eyes shut and screamed…

2

The beeping machines. The antiseptic smells. The starched sheets.

I know these things. I’m in the hospital. But, what the…? The Wreck was years ago!

A hand on each shoulder is gently holding me down, and a familiar voice says “Shhh, Jeri. It’s okay, honey, you were just having one of those dreams again. Jeri, can you open your eyes?” I manage to crack them open to a slit, and see Julia’s face smiling down at me. Wiping a cool, damp cloth over my forehead, she said “Hi, Jer. Welcome back. I’m sure you’ve already figured out you’re in the hospital. Honey, you’ve just come out of surgery, so you’re gonna be groggy for a while. Now that you’re awake, we can move you to your room, but the best thing for you is to try and go back to sleep. ‘Nique is down in the waiting room. bursa eskort I’ll go tell her you’re okay and when you wake up, she’ll be here. We’ll explain everything when you’re awake and more aware.” (Julia is the head nurse of the post-op recovery ward in the hospital.)

‘Nique? Surgery? Hospital? I have too many questions, but Jules is right. Sleep sounds so nice.

My eyelids fluttered open, and I saw ‘Nique and Julia, standing at the foot of my bed, talking. I tried to say something, but all that came out was a “Errrk” sound. They both looked over, smiling, and ‘Nique came over and kissed me gently. Holding my right hand, she said “Hi, baby. Oh, I’m so glad you’re okay. I barely slept last night, worrying about you.” I pointed to my mouth, and Julia held up a bottle of water with a bendy straw in it, giving me a wonderful sip of the cold liquid. It helped to quench the burning in my throat a little.

I croaked “What happened?” ‘Nique said “Sweetie, you’ve just come out of emergency surgery on your neck. They had to go in and fix a ruptured disc in your spine this morning.” I rolled my eyes, and squeaked “Oh, shit! Surgery? Not again!”

Julia chuckled, and came over on the other side. Stroking the back of my left hand, she said “Yeah, Jer, again. You’re getting pretty good at this, three operations on your spine in 19 years. Hell, if the hospital had a frequent flier plan, you’d be a charter member! You keep this up, and you’ll have the straightest posture of anybody, because all of the bones will be fused!” I sputtered “Damn, call Guinness,” making them both laugh a little.

‘Nique leaned over and gave me another kiss, then said “Baby, Julia told me when you first woke up, you were having one of the dreams again. Was it The Wreck one?” I nodded, and she said “I figured it probably was. Remember what Rhonda told you. The dreams are your brain’s way of telling you that you’ll be okay. You got through that, and you’ll get through this.”

Giving my hand a squeeze, Julia said “Jeri, I have to get back and ride herd on my nurses. ‘Nique can tell you what happened, and the neurosurgeon will be by later to explain in detail what he did. I’ll check back with you later, but I’m glad you’re okay. Next time, if you miss me so much, call me and we’ll have lunch again, instead of you having to go to this extreme just to see me!”

Of course, after the wreck, I had to quit my job. Knowing I had months of therapy to come, Julia told me I could come live with her. Part of her divorce agreement was a nice, 2-bedroom home and hefty alimony payment (her ex was some kind of tech wiz who developed a program that made a lot of money). I protested, but she said she’d welcome the company, and, grinning like crazy, said I could just pay her back ‘when I got back on my foot’! Har-de-har, Julia!

Arrangements were made with Marva and Audrey, and when I got out of the hospital, I moved in with Julia. We’ve never had sex together, since both of us were going through rough times back then. Our friendship continued to grow, though, and remained intact even after I got my settlement and moved out into the condo I had when I met ‘Nique.

Anyway, back to the present. When Julia left, ‘Nique gave me another nice sip of water, then said “Baby, they found you yesterday afternoon, unconscious, in the parking lot of Dr. Morgan’s office. The man who found you called 911, and they whisked you to the ER. They called me at work, and I rushed over here. There were all kinds of tests being run on you, trying to figure out what happened. I told them you’d been on the way to see Dr. Morgan about the numbness and tingling in your fingers, and the woozy way you’ve been feeling the past few days. They did an MRI scan on you last night around midnight.”

“When they got the results, they called Dr. Sanderson. He’s one of the top neurosurgeons in the state, and as soon as he saw the scan, he immediately scheduled you for emergency surgery this morning at 7:00. One of the discs in your neck was bulging inward, putting pressure on your spinal cord. That’s what was causing the tingling and wooziness. In the parking lot, he said the disc ruptured, and that’s why you passed out.”

Being careful of the IV in my left arm, and the soft collar around my neck, ‘Nique gave me a little hug. She said Dr. Sanderson told her that the surgery went bursa bayan escort well. He removed the damaged disc, cleaned all of the leaked fluid, and stuck a piece of bone between the neck bones, screwing them together with a titanium ‘saddle’, so the vertebrae will grow together when it’s healed.

The fog of anesthesia was starting to lift, minute by minute. I actually didn’t feel too bad, other than my sore throat. When I asked ‘Nique if she’d talked to Brad, my General Manager at work, she said she did, and he’d told her “Tell the Gimp to take it easy, but get well and hurry back. I miss not having her to pick on!” I laughed – that was exactly what I’d expect Brad would say.

Noticing how exhausted ‘Nique looked, I told her she should go home and rest. She said she was going to stay, but that the cushioned chair in my room was calling her name. She decided to take a short nap while we waited on Dr. Sanderson. Turning on the TV, she gave me the remote, got an extra pillow from the closet, and curled up on the chair, nodding off almost as soon as her eyes closed.

3

My mind started wandering while ‘Nique slept and I waited on the doctor. Julia was right, I’ve been here a lot. My first two — count ’em, two — surgeries were when I was 9 and 12. I had thyroglossal duct cysts develop that were removed. These are caused by leftover cells and tissues when the thyroid is forming in the fetus in the womb. Sometimes, they clump together, fill with fluid, and swelling happens under the skin of the neck. They’re benign, but I looked like a bullfrog when mine swelled up. My first two scars!

In between these two surgeries, just to keep things interesting, I fell in a contaminated pond on my father’s farm when I was 11. I came down with infectious hepatitis, my skin and eyes turning a sickly yellow color. One night in the hospital and a month in quarantine at home was the result. I guess it was a good thing, since all of my family and friends hated my guts because anyone exposed to me had to get a painful gamma-globulin shot in the butt as a precaution. My case was mild, and all they could do is let it run its course. Reading comics and watching TV all day was all I did — that’ll teach ’em to laugh at MY yellow ass! But overall, I have to say, quarantine sucks.

The first surgery on my backbone was when I was 18, just before high school graduation. I’d been working part-time at a hardware store in my home town. While up on a ladder getting some things from a shelf, a couple of young kids came running down the aisle, chasing each other. One of them hit the ladder, and I fell, breaking the L3 and L4 vertebrae in my lower back. They had to go in, reset the bones, and screw them together to fuse them. I must have looked pretty foolish when I sort of waddled across the stage when I graduated. The rigid brace I had to wear made walking difficult. But at least I made it through that okay, no paralysis or anything except the small scar left from the surgery.

I was 21 years old is when I had the biggie, the wreck I described earlier. The result of that was my left foot was amputated just above the ankle. It had been totally mangled in the collision. I’ll go into it more later, but that definitely goes on my medical profile. Surgery, 7 days in the hospital, and 6 months of physical therapy and psychological counseling came out of that little episode.

Fast-forward to when I was 30. I worked for the same company I’m still with, except I was only the assistant shop foreperson at the time, instead of Service Manager. It was a wintry day, and I’ll tell you, some people in the Midwest have no idea of what to do when driving in winter weather. Some bimbo was driving way too fast for the conditions, and rear-ended my car when she tried stopping at a traffic light. She hit me pretty hard, and that caused a chain reaction involving 6 vehicles in all.

I got a fractured T7 and T8 vertebrae in my upper back, along with 3 cracked ribs. Another surgery to fix and fuse the bones, 4 days in the hospital and 2 weeks of recovery followed. I had to wear another stiff brace for a few months, but I could still go to work, since my position at the time didn’t require me to go out to customer’s sites anymore.

Are we having fun yet?

The last hospitalization (until this one!) was when I was 35. We were having a tremendous rainstorm the morning I left home for work. A feral cat had taken shelter under my car, and the poor bursa ucuz escort thing got caught in my fan belt when I started my car. I heard the yowling and immediately shut the engine off, getting out and opening my hood. Amazingly, the cat was okay, but its paw was stuck between the belt and a pulley. I managed to free it, but the frightened beast sank its fangs into the soft flesh between my thumb and index finger before running away.

Within an hour, an angry red streak began running up my forearm. I called ‘Nique, and she came home and took me to the ER. I was admitted, and the first series of 6 rabies shots were administered, along with tetanus and antibiotic shots. 8 shots — 2 in each arm, and 2 in each butt cheek! It would have been funny, being a human pincushion, if it hadn’t hurt so much. The two young nurses who gave the shots had the right idea, just terrible coordination. With one on each side of me, they were going to do the countdown approach. Except one of them would go ‘3 — 2 — 1 — jab‘, and the other went ‘3 — 2 — 1 – pause> – jab‘. Getting 8 injections at one time hurt like hell, lemme tell you! There were some follow-up shots, but only one at a time, and spaced a week apart.

They kept me overnight for observation, but I was released the next day. Since I got bitten on a Friday, I only missed one day of work, but had to endure a lot of teasing when I did go back. My favorite nemesis, Brad, even found an old rabies vaccination tag, and gave it to me as a necklace! I’m so proud of that tag. It’s still hanging on my office wall.

Well, that brings me to my current situation…a rabid, broke-back cripple missing a foot, fresh out of surgery for a ruptured disc!

‘Nique is still sleeping, and I want to go over, rip her clothes off and ravage her right here, but unfortunately, I can’t. It’s mid-afternoon now, and the doctor still hasn’t showed up, so I watched TV and took a little nap myself. Coming out from under anesthesia is rough — I know, I’ve done it enough! At least, I didn’t have any more of the recurring dreams for this short snooze.

4

A sharp rapping at the door startled both of us awake, and Dr. Sanderson came in and introduced himself. He’s a handsome man, maybe early 50s, with salt-and-pepper hair. ‘Nique had come over by my bed, and Dr. Sanderson was on the other side when I noticed he was short! ‘Nique’s statuesque 5’9″ body towered over him by 4 or 5 inches, but he gave off such an air of confidence that his height didn’t seem to matter to him.

He asked how I was feeling. I told him I felt pretty good, except I had a sore throat and the first two fingers and thumb of both hands still had the numbness and tingling. At least, the woozy feeling I’d been having was gone. Smiling, he said the sore throat was to be expected, since he’d been digging around inside my neck for almost 3 hours this morning, and it should go away in a day or two. Taking off the soft collar around my neck, he pulled the bandage back enough to check the incision, then said I could leave the collar off, but I might want to wear it to sleep for a week or so, or anytime my neck felt weak.

Then, he got down to business. He said “Jeri, I’m sure Monique and Nurse Henson (Julia) have told you how you got here, so I won’t go into that. When they called me at home, and I saw the results of your MRI, I told them to keep you sedated so you wouldn’t thrash around and complicate things. Now, in my 25 years of practice, I’ve seen cases like yours that were worse, but this ranks right up there. Since you were unconscious, Monique gave her consent as next-of-kin, and at 7:00 this morning, I started the surgery.”

“What I did is a procedure called ACDF. You can type those letters in a search engine and read more about it later, but it stands for Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion. I went in through the front of your neck, and removed the ruptured disc between your C3 and C4 vertebrae. After cleaning out the leaked fluid, a piece of cadaver bone was put in place of the disc, and I put a titanium ‘saddle’ around the area, secured with screws. This will force the bones to grow together over time.”

“There doesn’t appear to be any further damage to the nerves, but the nerve that runs down your arms and into the first two fingers and thumb was already injured due to the hernia and rupture. Whether or not the nerve will heal is, in the best medical opinions, a 50 — 50 chance. Other than that, there should be no physical problems, and you’ll be able to resume your normal life after a week of bedrest.”

“Jeri, from my experience, I’m sorry to say that I’m afraid the damage is going to be permanent, but it won’t get any worse. Remember, I may be wrong, and it might heal completely. Nerves are very tricky things.”

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