I was at a party this winter that included both adults and kids. I don’t have kids, but I like watching them do kid things and I like talking to them about inappropriate subjects so the car ride home is uncomfortable for the adults. It’s a long-game prank and typically I don’t get to see the parents’ reactions but it still offers me some level of satisfaction to picture my friends when their little girl says, “Daddy, what’s a uterus?”
At any rate, I was watching the kids sledding–it never gets old–with some new acquaintances when our conversation turned to my recent back surgery. I’d like to think one of them noticed the scar on my neck and asked me about it, but it’s more likely I dragged them into a conversation about me and my life and my world.
I explained that a surgeon carved into my neck to gain access to a disc in my spine that was pressing on some nerves and making my left hand numb and tingly. The surgeon scraped out the naughty parts of my disc and replaced it with a cadaver bone and bolted it all together with a plate and some screws. It’s a common procedure, but I love telling that story, because invariably I get stopped the moment I say “cadaver bone.”
I know I could easily say “piece of bone,” but come on. There is no fun in doing that.
Where did the cadaver bone come from?
I don’t know.
Do bodies ever reject the cadaver bone?
I suppose so.
Was it from a murder victim?
I don’t know.
Are you having crazy dreams?
Do you think there are parts of that person’s body in other people’s bodies?
I suppose so.
Wouldn’t it be cool to meet other people who have pieces from the same body?
Yes. Yes it would.
And so on. It’s a show stopper, much the same way telling someone you’ve never had mayonnaise before is a show stopper. That’s an old trick I use to get out of conversations. Three people standing together, one is a bore, one is the patsy, and me. I will jump in when the bore stops to take a breath and say to the bore about the patsy, “Did you know [patsy] has never had mayonnaise?” Everything grinds to a halt; the bore is fascinated; and I get to walk away. It also works if you say “Did you know Applebee’s is [patsy's] favorite restaurant?”
Try it sometime. You can say anything you want, but it always gets you out of the rope-a-dopes. Cornered at an art opening? Go with: Did you know [patsy] grew up with John Waters? Someone talking at you at a sports bar? Go with: Did you know [patsy] has never seen a baseball game ever, even on TV? I reserve the mayonnaise comment for pass-around hors d’oeuvre cocktail parties. The Applebee’s comment is best for foodie events, like if you’re at a fundraiser at Hugo’s. (Ugh, that sentence says more about me and my farmers market NPR I’m a vegan who lives on the coast in the summer life more than anything else. I’ll throw a dollar in.) But, you have to make it up to the patsy later. Buy that person a drink or offer to be the patsy for them sometime.
Back to the cadaver bone. While talking about myself and my shiny new bleached cadaver spine and some of the restrictions I’ve been under, such as no skiing, no running, no sledding, no heavy lifting, somehow the ladies I was chatting with started calling me C-Bone. As in C-Bone don’t sled. C-Bone don’t run. C-Bone don’t kick.
Well? I met with Dr. Nice (he really is such a likeable guy, not just a likeable guy for a surgeon) the other day and guess what. C-Bone runs and kicks and skis and lifts and walks and dances and sleds and has a good time. I am off restricted duty with one caveat (a cadaver caveat, if you will): No falling. Pretty sage advice for anyone, really, so I’m going to assume C-Bone can do what C-Bone wants to do.
I am currently waiting for the temperature outside to climb back into double digits at the very least before subjecting my nearly atrophied muscles to that kind of torture. And, yes, after no lifting for almost a year, my arm muscles no longer exist. It is going to be a long road back, but it will be a fun road.
Did you know I have never been on a long road trip?
Discuss amongst yourselves. I’m going for a walk.
[3/3 Edit: Scratch that. I'm going skiing right now!]