I have a screw loose somewhere, literally

Published 12:37 pm Tuesday, December 27, 2016

What happened to me in 1991 keeps coming back to my mind and I have to share it with you. 

As of December 1989, I have been held together by screws, bolts and pins attached to two rods which extend the length of my spine. The two surgeries made Mayo Clinic history because of the extensiveness and delicacy. 

Naturally, therefore, the doctors there want to keep a very keen eye on my progress since then, which involves going back and forth to Mayo every six months for years afterward.

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The first visit back was actually exciting because we felt certain all was in order and we were happy to see X-rays to prove it. The pictures were taken from every possible angle and somehow, by the latest medical technology, they were ready within minutes for us to see.

My husband Gene and I sat in the small room and waited. Along one wall was a ridge and lights were behind the ridge. Into this, X-rays were jammed upward, securing them for viewing. We waited, anxious to be reassured that all was as it should be. 

I had gone through so much that past year, so much pain and fear that my condition would never improve, and I supposed we needed visual evidence that the pain and deformity would not return.

Several doctors came in, including my own miracle-worker doctor. He greeted us warmly and then, without further ado, removed the Xrays and jammed them into place, flipping the lights on behind them. 

There was my spine lined on either side with two steel rods which were connected every few inches by screws. We looked in awe at the miracle, at the straight, strong line. But then, we saw something hanging alone in the blackness of the X-ray. It looked a little like a tiny growth but on closer look, it turned out to be a screw, an unattached screw suspended somewhere in my chest.

“What is that?” we asked.

My doctor mumbled quietly, “So that’s where it went! During the second surgery, I dropped a screw and since you’d been on the table 10 hours already, I decided not to fish around for it but just to put another one in. It is perfectly safe there, Jean,” and then, with a thick black marker, he wrote across the top of the picture, “BRODY, JEAN……..SCREW LOOSE.”

It took a moment to sink in, but then Gene and I started to laugh. When Gene finally got hold of himself, he said, “You mean we paid all that money to find out she has a screw loose? Shoot, I could’ve told you that to start with!”

And the view from the mountains is wondrous.