Mr. Stingley," the doctor said, "I'm going to inject this dye into your
spinal column." Before all the words were out of his mouth, I was in
tremendous pain. God, did it hurt.
Stingley, I'm going to turn your frame every which way, and we're going to
float the dye up and down your spinal column to find out, or double check,
exactly where it is that the disks and the vertebrae are out of whack. I know
the pain you're feeling, but just bear with us for a little while."
The pain was
excruciating. Two or three times they actually drained the fluid from my
head—and it felt as though my head was going to fall off.
about 45 minutes of the worst torture I'd ever experienced, the doctor said,
"Thank you, Mr. Stingley. We've learned what we had to learn."
That night Dr.
Pont, the neurosurgeon who had operated on me after I'd been injured, stopped
into my room to tell me what they had learned. "Darryl," he said,
"we're going to operate on you again tomorrow to fuse a couple of the
vertebrae in your neck."
underwent surgery this morning. A spinal fusion of the fourth and fifth
cervical vertebrae was performed during the procedure in order to stabilize his
neck. His post-operation condition is excellent.
6:00 P.M., P.D.T., WED., AUG. 23, 1978
A few days after
my successful spinal-fusion surgery, a nurse came into my room carrying a stack
of boards. "Darryl," she said, "we're going to teach you a whole
new way to talk."
this?" I thought. "Ned and the third-grade reader?" I didn't want a
whole new way to talk. I wanted to talk the old way.
On one of the
boards was a list of names—Tina, my mother, Wayne, Tom Hoffman, John Madden. On
another board were the letters of the alphabet. And on a third board were the
numbers one to 10. "When you want to speak to someone," the nurse said,
"we'll just run our fingers down the list, and all you have to do is blink
when we come to the name of the person you want to talk to. Then, when you want
to talk, we'll use these other boards. You know how to spell, Darryl, don't
you? Well, I point to a letter on this board, and when I come to the one you
want, you just blink. It's complicated, I know, but it's better than nothing.
Let's try it."
She ran her
finger down the list of names, and when she stopped at Tina, I blinked.