Due to major neck surgery, I haven’t written a column in a month. This one offers thanks to the many people who got me very well through that event.

On May 14, I had surgery — decompression, laminectomy and fusion of C3 through C5, for those interested in such details.  I had had occasional pain in my neck and the length of my arms for at least two years.  Also in the arms: numbness, tingling, weakness and mild paralysis.  The surgery cured all that, we hope.

Having had four minimally invasive knee surgeries long ago, more recently left hip replacement and major lower back surgeries, as well as some minor other things, I knew the drill.  Arrive at 5:30 AM for intake and prep, get wheeled into the operating room two hours later, and in a few minutes get the anesthesiology cup and be gone in about three or four breaths.  Don’t even need a countdown.

Then wake up briefly in a fog in the recovery room before getting wheeled to my room about 1:30 p.m.

Spend three more days in my room — now sans visits by Kathy the sainted wife and Karyn the awesome daughter due to coronavirus shutdowns.  Finally, a wheel-chair down to the family car at the front, and help by Kathy and an attendant into the car.  

And the drive home by Kathy with continuing care by Kathy, Karyn and home care folks from Eden.

In many ways it reminds me of what Tom Hanks said in Apollo 13, where he played commander Jim Lovell: Each day I think of the many people who brought me through the ordeal to full recovery.  Unlike Lovell, I don’t have to wonder when we will be going back there and who that will be.  I’ll be going back in two months for a second back surgery.  As much as I revere the people, I hope that’s the end of it for some time.

In all my surgeries, I’ve been impressed with modern medical technology, but even more so by the skill, caring and proficiency of all the folks involved.

Dr. Jones, the other MD who assisted and the anesthesiologist have incredible knowledge and skill, and they timely explained everything and made sure I knew what was going on.  Later, X-rays showed the improvement in the neck and the just-right placement of the titanium.  

Also, another doctor earlier did the expert testing to determine just what treatment was needed, and he was great conversation.

Jones’s physician assistant, Candace, has been a great guide, help and friend throughout. She shows that PAs are highly trained professionals, nearly doctors themselves. All the people at Tahoe Fracture were helpful, timely, courteous and professional: nurses, schedulers, MRI and X-ray technicians and other assistants.

At Carson Tahoe, the folks were also professional, proficient and friendly.  That includes intake staff and record-keepers, testing technicians (including for coronavirus), nurses in the operating room and on my floor, supervisors, other assistants and food service folks.

These people all have challenging jobs, sometimes demanding or problematic patients, and great patience. 

I try to be a cheerful and engaged patient, especially with self-effacing and occasional dark humor, which seems to be appreciated.

When you get home, the personnel from Eden Home Health Care are also outstanding: the physical therapists and nurses, plus the assistants who helped Kathy and me. PTs and nurses are very knowledgeable and engaging.  The same goes for Tahoe Fracture’s outpatient PTs and their folks.  PTs like Kyle and Connor have Ph.Ds.

Most of the athletic male subset of the 30-some cousins on my mom’s side have been heir to the knee, hip and back problems I’ve had. 

My cousin Bruce, a great all-around athlete, had hip replacement last week.  And I can’t begin to keep track of the others. An athletic streak seems to run in the family, but also weak backs, hips and knees as we age.

All my cousins who’ve had major surgery and other treatments have been quite impressed with their doctors and other medical people too.  God bless them all.  We all agree that the pains we’ve survived for long times before surgery are much worse than the minor discomforts after it. 

Ron Knecht has served Nevadans as state controller, a higher education regent, economist, college teacher and legislator.  

Contact him at RonKnecht@aol.com.