Fandango’s Provocative Question #199

After you break parts of you, are you ever the same again? This is the question du jour.

Have you ever fractured a bone (or bones) that was serious enough to require inpatient hospitalization and a post-operative stay in a rehab facility? What bone(s) did you break? How long did it take in rehab (inpatient or at home) before you were back to “normal”? And did you actually achieve the same level of functionality you had prior to the fracture(s)?

The age at which you were when you broke whatever you broke makes a huge difference in how well you recuperate. Children break bones all the time and a few months later, they are fine. Children heal quickly and usually completely.

Then there is us. We don’t heal quickly and frequently not completely. Of course, it depends on what you broke and how badly broken it was.

I broke my back when I was 13 and I was 19 when I had to be repaired. There are a lot of shoulda-coulda-wouldas involved. I should have gone to the better hospital and used a better doctor rather than staying local. If I had done that, I would have gotten some post op therapy which I never received. It might have helped although the kind of surgery they were doing back than was primitive compared to what they can do now.

The messed up spine I have today is the direct result of the earlier injury and the surgery I had when I was a teenager. I was functional for about 45 years between the surgery and when I came unglued. I was never entirely out of pain, but I was active and did all sorts of things, including taking horseback riding lessons and riding huge roller coasters. About fifteen years ago it went from bad to worse, probably because of a car accident.

All those years when I was active and lively, my back was gradually seizing up as calcification enclosed it. The calcification is also protective. It keeps the spine in place, but it doesn’t feel good. I had a couple of auto accidents during those years and while they weren’t serious per se, they didn’t improve the spine much.

Otherwise, I haven’t broken any bones. I’ve torn ligaments and tendons, but no breaks. Just that spine. But honestly, one broken spine is more than enough.

As for hospitalization, I was in surgery and nearly died afterward (infection) and then I was in the hospital for four more months. I didn’t get any therapy, but this was in the 1960s and they didn’t believe in therapy unless you were an athlete.

Functionality? It took about 2 years before I could function somewhat normally, but eventually I did all the things I was told to never do. I’m not sorry I did.

Did those activities further damage my spine? I doubt it. My spine is what it is. As long as I don’t have a serious fall or a major auto accident, it won’t get worse or improve. The big issue is advancing arthritis — almost universal and affects most mammals as they age. Some have it worse than others.

The arthritis is also a side effect of joint damage. Any damaged joint will likely become arthritic. Most older mammals (dogs, cats, horses, lions, tigers, etc.) become arthritic regardless, with or without joint damage. Arthritis is the curse of being warm-blooded.

I was not in a position to wait for improved surgery and although the surgery has improved, I’m not sure it makes you feel any better than the old surgery. Basically, spinal surgery is excruciatingly painful. Recovery takes a long time. Also, when you stop hurting so much you wonder how you can hurt that much and not be dead, you are not going to be the same again. A damaged spine will never be undamaged. You have to be careful to not re-injure yourself. This mostly involves NOT falling or having accidents — including not climbing ladders to clean gutters.

One needs to accept ones stage in life and not do things that will endanger you. You gotta remember you ain’t a kid anymore 🪜

Categories: #FPQ, #Health, Anecdote, Arthritis, illustration, Provocative Questions

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17 replies

  1. I wish the best for you, love !


  2. Well, I no longer am feeling sorry for myself because I only broke a hip. 😏

    One of the physical therapists I’ve been working with over the past two weeks told me that the next time i have the urge to get up on a ladder, I should take out my wallet and check my date of birth on my driver’s license…and then say “No.”


    • Yup. That’s pretty much how it goes. Every now and again I feel frisky — and then I remember how much I really do NOT want to fall. I do fall, mind you, but I live in New England and it’s winter and slippery — but nothing major. No ladders, no more horses (sigh), no fall down the stairs.

      For what it’s worth, I’m beginning to feel a little better and wondering if maybe getting more sleep and iron infusions are working? Is there hope?

      If you want a jolt of “old people in space” fun, see if you can find “Space Cowboys” somewhere. It’s not only a fun movie, but rather encouraging — except that Tommy Lee was actually only in his early fifties when he made the movie. Some people look old a lot earlier than others! I was still getting carded at 55.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I loved “Space Cowboys.” It must be streaming somewhere. I’m glad your feeling better. I just got dressed (with assistance) in street clothes and that just plumb tuckered me out! 😮‍💨


        • It gets better. When I got home after heart surgery, I couldn’t get up from the toilet without Garry hauling me up. I was essentially helpless. Audiobooks kept me sane and not thinking about how awful I felt did the rest. I knew heart surgery induces depression. It’s a “thing” and they warned me about it in the hospital.

          It’s not just the surgery. It’s the insult to your body, the breaking open of your chest and all the stuff they are doing there. The spine was more painful, but the heart work came in my 60s and I haven’t been the same since. I would have gotten PT but my back made them decide it wouldn’t work. Too much of me was broken, so they sent me home with some visits from a nurse and Garry. But of course, love me though he does, Garry doesn’t have a “caretaking” bone in in body. Ask him to cover a breaking news story and he’s there, but tend to a sick person? Not his wheelhouse. He did try, though. He did his best and it must have been good enough because I’m still here.

          We own a copy of “Space Cowboys” and watched it last night. I was REALLY surprised that other than Garner, whose last movie it was, they are all still alive. Eastwood is 93, Sutherland is 87, and Jones is just 76, only a year older than me. Did you know that Donald Sutherland was college roommates at Harvard (yeah, he has a degree from Harvard — imagine that) with Al Gore? And that he gave Al Gore’s nomination speech when he was running for president? Useful bits of trivia.

          But it was great. It was terrific to see geezers in space. They probably have it available on Prime if nowhere else. I think they have most movies made in the past 50 years on Prime.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Oooh, breaking your back is a very big deal, Marilyn. What a terrible thing to have happened to you. And you were so young. I fractured my pelvic bone in three places in a cycling accident (I was the cyclist and the other person was driving a car). I spent a week in hospital and another 5 weeks recovering. I don’t have any ill effects from that experience as yet.


    • Spines are just (so far) impossible to properly fix. There really IS a fix. Beth Israel (in Boston) has created cartilage that can replace broken human cartilage, but no insurance company will pay for it. It works, I am told. It’s absolutely magical — but you have to be REALLY wealthy to afford it. Hundreds of thousands of dollars. What a waste of research to have a cure and not be able to use it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who has survived so many physical challenges as you have Marilyn. Still, you remain pretty scrappy and up for a good verbal fight every so often.



    • I’m amazed I’m still walking the earth. It’s been a close call a few times, but somehow, guardian angel time, I keep getting back up. I have lost a lot of bounce from my step, though I think MAYBE I HOPE that this latest round of infusions may have given me a little bit of bounce back. AND my knee is finally beginning to heal. It needed what I thought it needed. REST. I had to get off my feet and give my leg a couple of days to begin to heal.

      IF all goes well…


  5. You’ve gone through a few tough times Marilyn.


    • Yes and I’m still here while so many others aren’t. I have a friend who has had Hodgkin’s disease since he was 14. He’s in his 60s. He wasn’t supposed to live this long– and he has had two major heart surgeries too (from the same hospital as me, though he couldn’t get the same doctor). He planned his entire life based on the likelihood of an early demise.

      Go figure, right?

      My brother was fine and died at age 60 from pancreatic cancer — and meanwhile, having survived so many things that could have killed me, I’m still here. This whole survival thing is like playing with dice. You roll them and hope you get a winning number.

      Liked by 1 person

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