Susie will give some of you a more detailed report, I'm sure. But I want all of you to know that Dr. Schwartz, her neurosurgeon, told Susie today that she could wear a soft collar from now on, except when she's riding in a car or sleeping. The plain x-rays of her neck told the doctor that Susie's neck is healing properly post-surgical stabilization of her C6 and C7 vertebrae. He also told her that he had been concerned that the surgery was delayed because of her elevated liver enzymes, as the earlier x-rays and CAT scans revealed to him that Susie's neck was not healing properly on its own.
Yesterday, Susie saw her hand orthopedic surgeon. Dr. Lindburg told her that, contrary to what he had told her in the first visit, more than a month ago, the bicycle crash DID tear the tendon in her left thumb, and also caused some nerve damage in her left forefinger. He hopes the tendon will re-attach naturally, without surgery, and also hopes that the nerve damage will ameliorate over time.
Only time will tell.
One thing is certain. Susie is making progress, albeit slowly. She has a LONG way to go to regain her health.
Susie is, in her own words, "still facing surgery for my gall bladder and small hernia, but that will be at least 6 weeks away."
"I am on day 7 of the flagyl and still tolerating it well although I make sure to take it with food. My digestive system is doing much better and I have only lost 1 lb. in the past week so I think the C diff is on the wane. I will not know for sure until 3-4 days after I finish the flagyl and have started probiotic therapy to replenish my proper intestinal flora."
A very dear friend of ours, a very talented studio-painting artist, Deborah Quinn-Munson, emailed Susie a photograph of Debbie's oil painting very strong, very sturdy, very straight old tree. The tree stands in an open field. A pillar of strength. Steady as she goes. Unyielding. "Very much like you, Susie," wrote Debbie in the accompanying email.
Susan Ellen Price Dutcher is THE strongest woman, no, THE strongest person, of either sex, I've ever met. To live with me for 43 years (two-score and three years as of October 26, 2011), she has to be that. Like the tree in the painting, Susie will endure this greatest physical challenge of her life. She will survive the pain. The surgeries. This private and reserved woman can tolerate all the physical and emotional indignities, all the needles, all the probing examinations of her body, all the public discussion of her ordeal, its causes, her future, OUR future.
Like Jacob of the Jewish bible, who struggled, wrestled with a demon, an angel, or God, at Penuiel, and survived, transformed in spirit and name (from Jacob to Israel), but forever-after walking with a limp, Susie may eventually be left with a limp of some sort. But, like Jacob ("You are now Israel, because you have struggled with man and God, and survived"), Susie is slowly, with God's blessing, but through her own steely determination, following Jacob's game plan.
Susie will survive this struggle, be transformed in ways we cannot yet envision, and, it is certain, continue to say "yes" to life. Same as Job did, in the teeth of his own trial.