The Hammer of Spinal Repair

Caution–lest you think that Josh has suddenly, annoyingly taken to speaking in the third person–this post is written by Josh’s wife, Adrienne, since Josh is not fit to write.

Yesterday Josh had back surgery. Don’t bother with writing us any advice about that now, it’s done! And it went well. He really had exhausted every non-surgical treatment available. Nothing helped. The doctors told him that he might get better without surgery…in FIVE YEARS. Unacceptable. So yesterday at 7 a.m. he had a discectomy. It turns out there were two massive hunks of disk jabbing into his nerve. Now they’re gone. Josh asked the doctors to save the pieces because he wanted to blindfold them, take them out to the desert, and have them shot as traitors in full view of the rest of his body parts (Just to show them “How we handle mutiny in these parts”). Surprisingly, the doctor did not save the pieces. He may have mumbled something about turning down the morphine drip though.

Which brings me to my next point: Josh and drugs. Wow. I don’t know anyone else who is so cheerful, or so loud, immediately following a major surgery. When I came into the recovery area of the surgical center, I could hear him before I could see him. “I wanna ged up!” slurred a deep, drunken voice. “I will race you and I will beat you! Let’s go–parking lot!” That’s my Josh. In fact, the nurses told me that Josh wins the prize for getting up sooner than anyone they had ever seen following back surgery. If you know how competitive Josh can be, you know that makes him enormously happy. He has no recollection of any of this, though. If only they would be willing to sign an affidavit acknowledging his toughness, or perhaps give some sort of medal…the nurse did give Anna a little teddy bear wearing a t-shirt that says, “My operation was BEARABLE at the Central Utah Surgical Center” but I don’t think that’s the same thing. They also told me that while most people can barely do one lap around the post-op room, Josh did three–and they had to force him to lie down again. This was about thirteen minutes after waking him up. That was as long as they could keep him in the bed.

He did have his complaints about the bed, since his feet hang off the end. He loudly told the nurses that if they ever got a grant for the surgical center, they should use it to replace “all these midget beds.”

When I asked him how he was doing, he said he felt like he’d been “hit in the back with a hammer…the hammer of spinal repair!” He was much, much goofier than I thought he’d be. In fact, everyone else in the room was pretty much how you’d expect them to be post-surgery: shaky, very weak, whispering to the nurses etc. (I should explain that the post-operation area is just one big room with the beds separated by thin blue curtains spaced about eight feet apart. Absolutely no privacy.) But what Josh thought was a whisper was more like a super-loud stage whisper. When we heard the lady in the bed next to Josh’s telling the nurse that she wouldn’t get up and walk, Josh “whispered” to me, “The reason most people won’t get out of bed is ’cause they’re pansies. Freakin’ pansies…Rock ‘n’ roll!” (accompanied by the appropriate hand gesture).

I wanted to run next door and apologize to the wimpy lady (she really was kind of a pansy), but I didn’t dare leave Josh. Instead I said, “Shh! You are NOT whispering! You are so on drugs!”

“No, actually I’m feeling pretty clear-headed now. I think they’re wearing off. Listen! Ask me some math! Two times two–four! Two times five–eight!” (a pause while I laugh) “Wait…no….”

He also repeatedly poked me with his finger which had the fingertip heart-rate monitor on it. “I’m checking your nose pulse,” shouted Josh, poking me in the nose. I think it’s safe to say he was stoned out of his mind. At least now I know he’s really funny on drugs, not like those mean druggies, but a friendly sort of guy who also says “dude” a lot.

One other thing about Josh on drugs: he may swear. Remember how he’s “not a swearing man,” unless he’s doing some sort of home repair? Well, we can add another caveat. The nurse was trying to get him to eat something so that the painkillers wouldn’t nauseate him (it ended up being in vain, since he threw up a bunch a little while later). Upon tasting the requested blueberry muffin, Josh exclaimed, “Oh! Oh! That tastes like @#¡! Oh! That @#$% tastes like paste! Burning paste!” Of course this also was not whispered. I quickly got the muffin out of his sight. “This is an acid-muffin! I don’t want an acid-muffin! Why would anyone make an acid-muffin?!”

Besides the Fastest-to-Get-Up Prize, we also won another prize before we left. One nurse told us we were the Cutest Couple-in-the-Surgical-Center. I think that’s because we were the only ones laughing hysterically while walking around the room for the required post-op laps. Unfortunately Josh’s teeny little gown DID cover him just enough. He told me he was hoping to cheer everyone up by showing them his bottom.

I know Josh may have shared his drug-addled cheer (but not his bottom) with some of you yesterday because he was making drunken, shouting phonecalls the entire drive home. Feel free to share, since I can’t be the only one with good Surgery Josh quotes. And in case you’re wondering, he’s a lot more lucid today. He has no more leg pain, the numbness in his toes is gone, and he’s doing pretty well considering he just underwent the hammer of spinal repair.

16 responses for The Hammer of Spinal Repair

  1. Dave says:

    When Josh called he just sounded “out of it”, but not crazy. Adrienne, can you please give him an extra dose of the meds and then have him call me again? could be good fun..

  2. cooper says:

    Adrienne, thanks for the update! Tell Josh to get better soon!

  3. Howard Roark says:

    Josh, good luck and my prayers are with you!

  4. Adriaan says:

    Thanks for the update, I hope to speak to Josh online soon. Wish him well from me!

  5. John says:

    I happened to be home sick and ingoring the home phone ringing with no message left when the answering machine came on — we never use the phone so mostly sales calls.. at about the 3rd or 4th call i though – that must be josh in his drug addled mind calling my home phone instead of the cell…. of course it was.

    He’d already called me on the cell on the way home from the hospital where he explained, numerous times, that there were 2 huges pieces taken out and he felt great.

  6. The hero of hernia

    Iron man.

  7. Mighty Josh says:

    When I had the pleasure of speaking to Josh on his car ride home, I found out what he would have been like had he chosen surfing over volleyball. He did a mean drugged-out surfer impression, with lots of “dudes” sprinkled throughout the conversation.

    He told me several times about how the doctor had taken out two big pieces of disk, that were big, because they were big. That is why they took out the big pieces, because they were so big. They were really big, and there were two of them, dude.

    It was also possibly the friendliest I have ever heard him. I have no doublt that had he been present, there would have been lots of hugs.

  8. dave says:

    Good luck in recovery Josh. Seriously get better.

    I must say that was perhaps thee most hilarious posting I’ve seen in two and a half years on Amishrobot. Good lord, shooting the blindfolded spinal pieces in full view of the other body parts?!!! That’s right, turn it into a positive. Learn them all a lesson while you’re at it. That was pure gold. I’m sorry my entertainment of this entire episode came at such excruciating pain at your cost.

  9. shawn says:

    Alas Adrienne, I did not receive a phone call. But your post was enough.

    I’ve never had surgery, but I’ve been heavily sedated and can tell you that I am famous for saying funny things while on drugs. So while reading this post I decided that Josh would be someone that I would like to get high with. In fact, I’ve placed him at the top of my list of people I’d like to get high with. (Another first place for Josh–he is probably very happy with that!)

    Anyway, I am happy that all went well. We are still praying for a quick recovery and that you can all come down to California for a visit to the beach.

    BTW, I can’t speak for anyone else, but seeing Josh’s vertical smile causes me to have a horizontal one on my face! I am the only winner there!

  10. Brian says:

    I was nearing the end of a somewhat decisive meeting at work when my cell phone rang. I keep it on silent at work and usually don’t answer during meetings, but I knew Josh’s surgery was that day, and, when I saw that it was a call from the Penrods, I thought maybe Adrienne needed some assistance taking care of Josh or the kids, so I quietly answered the call. Even though I had stepped out into the hall, I’m pretty sure all my co-workers heard Josh’s full-blast voice calling me by my full name (which never happens) and shouting a triumphant, “I’M HOME!” Every time I’ve spoken to him over the past few months Josh has been in gloomy agony. So I couldn’t keep from smiling as he described to me the success of his surgery and how great he felt. No doubt he was smiling on the other end of the line as well, and bigger than ever (not the smile to which Shawn has referred). I didn’t even notice all the stoned-surfer-dude-isms until well after I’d hung up the phone. We’re happy you’re happy, Josh!

  11. Benjamin Read says:

    It’s good to hear that things went well with the surgery. Did you by chance hear anything from the doctor about why Josh keeps having huge chunks of things (bone, disk, cartilage) appear in places that make him hurt? Didn’t this happen to his knee a couple of years ago? Poor josh. I think we need Joe to provide an artist’s rendering of Josh’s surgery experience. Something that captures and transmits all of the different emotions, senses, and states-of-mind involved in the process.

  12. andrew says:

    Get Well Soon!!!

  13. rob says:

    Are you a normal heigth now?

  14. jenny says:

    Hi, Josh! You have absolutely no idea who I am, but I’m Chris Lynn’s sister. I read Adrienne’s narrative a few days ago and laughed until I cried (even though I’ve never actually met you).

    I was just loading groceries into my trunk at Target about an hour ago when I heard a voice behind me call “C’mere Reese!” I only know of one Reese, so I did a cartoon double-take and lo and behold, who should I see walking past but The Patron Saint of Back Pain and his beautiful wife and children!

    My first instinct was to smile and say, “Hey, how’s your back?” But I caught myself just in time as I thought, man, how creepy is that? I mean, a total stranger giving you a jovial cuff on the arm and bellowing “HEY! HOW’S YOUR BACK?” like a long-lost home teacher. And not only a total stranger, but someone who knows you only through your blog.

    By the time I’d thought of a less-invasive way to introduce myself you were off near the entrance, visiting with a nice older couple who were, no doubt, asking about your poor back.

    So anyway–how’s your back?

  15. martin says:

    Glad you got the surgery – it was the only real choice from the beginning, oh ye of little faith.

    Seriously, I am happy it was successful and you can now plan on returning to the blissful world of non-pain, an exclusive club that we have all been enjoying without you. Try to be polite to the long time patrons.

  16. jason says:

    I understand being a little off after surgery. In 94′ after coming to after my wisdom teeth were yanked I demanded to watch the world cup. I was told i was rude by one of the parents from the field hockey team i coached that worked there.

    more recently i left a very incoherent message on the answering machine from Baghdad saying I was fine, but got a little hurt. Ever since then I can’t stop swearing, be careful or you’ll have to join the club.