A Guitarist’s Nightmare 4

Huntsville Hospital, April 2012

As it turned out I was not operated on that evening, the new plan was for me to be operated on Monday afternoon. So I was still on the morphine and IV diet. No food, no water. Word got out pretty quickly about the accident. I got a message to the people in charge of the local arts festival that I would not be able to perform that weekend. My friend Ginny Kennedy at our local public radio station WLRH made an on-air announcement. It was nice to know folks were thinking of me. The music office at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, where I’m an adjunct professor, sent a bouquet of flowers to my room. The dean’s office at the College of Liberal Arts sent a HUGE bouquet. My dear friend Kristey Fry came to see me almost right away, and Ingrid called Dave Gallaher, so he came to the room as well. It’s got to be hard to see a fellow musician in the condition I was in.

Dr. Bill Cox, a cardiologist who takes lessons from me stopped by when he had a break. Kristey got on to me when she heard me tell the nurse my pain level was not a 10 out of 1 to 10. “Always tell them the highest number! That way you’ll get more morphine!”

Eventually I got to meet my surgeon, Dr. David Griffin. He explained what they were going to do and eventually asked what I did for a living. When I told him I was a concert guitarist he reacted as if someone had punched him in the stomach, he bent forward exclaiming something like “Oh, Jeez!” or something along those lines. I thought, well this doesn’t seem promising at all. He told me I would never have full extension in my right arm again, and was curious about what range of movement I needed to play. Now this was just for the elbow and wrist, the broken scapula would be another surgery.

The afternoon turned to evening, still waiting for the trip to the OR. And we waited, and waited. Finally they hauled me off. They put some kind of happy juice in my IV bag because I was not apprehensive in the least. The next few hours would determine if I would be a musician ever again, nothing at ALL to worry about. I might as well have been waiting for my sandwich order to get to me at Happy Tummy, no worries at all. That was SOME kind of happy juice! They took me into the OR, and asked if I could move off the cart I was on to the operating table. I said sure. My legs were working if not my arms. No need to be picked up. They juiced me up and I konked out. I woke up groggy, nauseous but not too bad, in a lot of pain, but as disoriented as I was I moved the fingers of my right hand to see if I could. They worked! Maybe I could get through this.

The operation took a good four hours, they would update my wife Ingrid from time to time during this. Dr. Griffin was pretty happy with his handiwork. I was sent back up to my room and sent Ingrid home to get some rest, it was two in the morning I think. I was very sore and asked for morphine, was alone and with both arms messed up pretty much helpless, but I could wiggle the fingers of my right hand! Yay!!