"Death and the Maiden" by Marianne Stokes‘Lumbar-Fusion Post-Op Blues’ by Jeff Kemper The Society April 18, 2021 Culture, Humor, Poetry 21 Comments . The Odyssey of a recovering patient of the Orthopedic and Spine Specialists (OSS) hospital in York, PA; January 2019. (My hospital experience could not have been better. Surgeons, nurses, aids, therapists, and dietary personnel are all first-rate. But my body’s reaction was another matter.) Prologue My L-five, S-one fusion done, This convalescing ain’t no fun! Canto I I went down to the OSS My vertebrae to coalesce. I hope this thing is a success But I must certainly confess That horrid heaps and hefty tons Of biting pain above my buns Do slice and slash my humble flesh Asunder, searing my nephesh, My heart, my soul, and rendering Me feeble and engendering A host of speculative fears That oft have brought my eyes to tears. Without my Norco this damned curse Would be indefinitely worse! Canto II But worse it waxed when new pains came Into my legs, I did exclaim With groans and screams that juxtaposed My agonies with dreadful woes. My sore afflicted, tortured great, With hurt that did excruciate Upon each nascent foundering And floundering foot-fall. The thing Was beastly so I shrieked. I cried And prayed the torture would subside. Sciatica did mobilize Its troops and seize its fated prize! Petitions would not dare abate; Was this, methought, my endless fate? Canto III That’s what I thought when I was sad And pain was my only comrade! But then (whence came a magic spell?) The hurt retreated fairly well When entered Gabapentin dose: Before too long a grandiose And glorious tranquility Ascended, as an apogee, And I reposed in peaceful bliss: A day (or was it two?) of this Euphoria that quelled my fears. But it was days, not months or years! Just days I said, until the dregs Of hurt and ache entered my legs! Canto IV And did that stark and stinging strike? It did indeed! And nothing like The trauma having gone before. “My dearest love, I now implore, Give me a break before I die And when I tell you, do not sigh: Oh, there’s a clot of blood, beware, Just like the former one, I swear! It hurts the selfsame way,” I said. She said, “I doubt it, but let’s head On out and see what malady This is.” Guess what! Not one but three Blood clots intruded on my bliss, For which I now chow Eliquis. Canto V But then I waited long and hard Whilst my poor psyche, scuffed and scarred, Was scarred some more until the clots Would dissipate. But that took lots Of blessed time and many nights With little sleep and many fights To occupy my waking time. I paced about. No sleep sublime Did put my weary soul to rest. I was downtrodden and oppressed Severe through each new day, and each Nightfall befell me like some loutish leech Until sweet Melatonin saved Me, gave me respite that I craved! Canto VI Instead of hours two or three Repose relented not for me For four or sometimes even five— Enough methought to stay alive. But morning now bewitches, while Awaking muscle twitches vile, Befouls my body’s rolling out Of bed. And so without a doubt When I awake and quiver for A moment, shake and shiver more Than fellows ought, I think, “The nerves Are nervous!” But the drug that serves To stop this stuff when I convene It, fails, by name, Tizanidine. Canto VII My twitching in my quaking back Is not a jingoist attack. It isn’t even quite a pain, A nuisance just, a tiny bane. But tan me hide!—Beneath the site Where surgeon’s scalpel once did bite Into my flesh, my vertebrae— The twain made one that martial day— Them selfsame bones did weep and wail, “Mehurts again, me does!” “Curtail This suffering!” I said that too! This strangest of the strangest brew: My back still hurts despite my dose Of Norco. Isn’t this morose? Epilogue It’s not morose; I know I’ll heal, But healing is a thing surreal! . . Jeff Kemper has been a biology teacher, biblical studies instructor, editor, and painting contractor. He lives in York County, Pennsylvania. NOTE: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to email@example.com. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 21 Responses Mo April 18, 2021 Jeff, I am so sorry for your pain. Here’s hoping for a pain free life for you very soon. I can tell, it’s already been too long, but heal well. Reply Jeff Kemper April 18, 2021 Thanks, Mo, I’m fine. All’s well. Reply jd April 18, 2021 Additional sympathy from me, Jeff, and the hope that since you are able to write about your experience with occasional flashes of humor means you are on the mend. Reply Jeff Kemper April 18, 2021 Thanks, jd. Actually (and most thankfully) it has been two years. Reply Paul Freeman April 18, 2021 To write about physical pain in such a jocular and entertaining way is testament to your strength, Jeff. Reply Jeff Kemper April 18, 2021 Thank you, Paul. Writing about adversity helps a lot. Reply Sally Cook April 18, 2021 I find it remarkable that you are able to get outside the pain and describe it as you have. I pray you will soon be better, and pain free. Reply Jeff Kemper April 18, 2021 Thanks, Sally. There were times during this ordeal when I mistakenly thought things were improving – many times. And then they improved for good. Reply James A. Tweedie April 18, 2021 Jeff, as one scheduled for an L3 vertebral fusion in July, I can’t say that I was inspired by the otherwise delightful poetic account of your painful post-op ordeal! There is always risk involved in such things but I am am hopeful nonetheless! I am curious, however, if things have improved now that 2+ years have passed since your surgery? If I write a poetic account of my upcoming surgical experience I will be satisfied if it turns out to be half as amusing and well-written as yours! Reply Jeff Kemper April 18, 2021 Thanks for your kind words, James. My surgeon was top-notch. I’m happy to report that I can run (short distances), lift things (with knees bent!), work in the garden, etc. There were 6 weeks or so of hell, but you might not have the fortune of experiencing sciatica as dreadful as mine, or the blood clots, or yet the sleeplessness. I hope you experience none of those, but even though I did, it was worth all that discomfort and more. I sincerely hope all goes well and expect to read about it in verse! Reply Jeff Eardley April 18, 2021 Jeff, I have just read this out loud to my wife who suffers with back pain and was nodding throughout. Never mind operating theatres, this belongs on the stage of real theatres. I look forward to your one man show tour of English provincial venues, with a finale at the RSC in Stratford. I really hope that things have improved for you and thank you for this most enlightening piece on the horrors of back pain. Reply Jeff Kemper April 18, 2021 Thanks, Jeff. You’re too kind! Life is much better than before surgery, and worth every groan, of which there were too many to count. Reply Margaret Coats April 19, 2021 As well as the frolicking rhyme and rhythm, the poem has an amusing structure of short cantos, and couplet prologue and epilogue. This suggests an imposing work in the grand manner, but follows through in an entirely different way. Cantos I and II get you fearfully set for the fateful struggle, then there is a drug or supplement to star in each remaining canto. Brilliant! I especially like Canto III, because I recall a long-ago time when I was prescribed a narcotic. It really is bliss the first time you take it, but not nearly as good on the second dose (and that was all I had). So glad you have healed from a successful surgery! Reply Jeff Kemper April 19, 2021 Thank you for your kind words and your analysis. I didn’t want to let that crisis go to waste, as is the practice of certain political creatures, so I wrote a little memoir. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant April 19, 2021 Jeff, I winced, grinned and journeyed along with you in the lines of this humorous, heart-touching, and thoroughly engaging poem. I am sure that your excellent humor and admirable attitude helps you on the road to full recovery… and I wish you well. Thank you for being an inspiration as a poet and a patient. Reply Jeff Kemper April 20, 2021 Susan, I am quite well and have been, thanks to the excellent care I had in this wonderful hospital, where, by the way, my wife worked at the time. Even the food was excellent! Thanks for your encouraging words which mean a lot, coming from a witty kitty of a poet! (Am I allowed to say that in an ever-offended world?) Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant April 20, 2021 Jeff, I’m very pleased to hear you are hale and hearty, and that you had first rate treatment with excellent hospital food… what more could one ask for?! I love the term “witty kitty of a poet” – I’ll wear that purrrrfect badge of honor with pride… David Watt April 21, 2021 Jeff, I’m so glad you’re much improved after your surgery and lengthy recuperation. Thanks for being able to pen a lighthearted and entertaining account of your painful experience. Reply Jeff April 21, 2021 And thank you, David, for reading it. Reply Lois April 21, 2021 You have my empathy. Been there! Glad you’ve come through. You nailed the experience, I recognized it all! I enjoyed learning a few words I hadn’t run into despite being fairly well read. Bravo! Reply Jeff Kemper April 28, 2021 Thank you, Lois. I’m glad I captured the experience for you! Life is ever a stream of experiences, unique, yet similar to those of others. That one was horrid, but the outcome was worth every groan I uttered. And there were hundreds of them! Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.