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I REALLY hate this prompt. I lay in bed Thursday night and thought about it. Of course, that giant lockbox in my head securing my childhood popped open. I could go head to head with other entrants about physical and psychological abuse in my childhood from the favored thick belt that didn’t stop until clothes shredded and skin flayed, from broken bones such as a hammer on a thin arm on a table, or trying to put a small hand into a garbage disposal while it ran. I could go on and on in gruesome detail. The demon was inventive. I thought it was my fault; I loved her until I was seventeen, no matter what she did. She was so beautiful on the outside and so evil inside. But she made me strong, a protector of my sisters, and a fighter. I do what I do because of what she did to me. So don’t pity that child. She is alive and the demon is dead. My sisters are alive.
That story goes back in the box with new shiny locks.

This was my anti-entry, Gary.


I was having numbness in my fingertips, flames against the undersides of my arms, then a feeling of icy wetness. So I went to a Neurosurgeon. He did tests. Nothing he could do. Learn to live with it.

It got worse. I went to a family friend who was a neurologist. He told me it was bad and sent me to a back fixer who was a master orthopedic surgeon. That’s where I met Dr. Mac. He ran extensive tests. Time passed. I began to notice my family and my friends tip-toed around me like they were walking on eggshells or glass. The pitying glances did it.

I cornered my husband and got a mumbled jumble of nothing. So I made an appointment with Dr. McNamara. My daughter came with me, the youngest not the psychopath, and my demon mother insisted on coming—she couldn’t take a chance some good dirt might be dug up to smear around the family.

My daughter and I arrived at his bone clinic; my demon mother wanted her boyfriend to come back with us. I refused. First contrary to his insisting I think of him like a stepfather he was not. What he was was married and living with his wife. So hell no, I don’t care whether his feelings were hurt or not.

We sat in the little examining room and the doctor put the films of my neck up on the computer screen. Apparently the ligament that runs the length of the spinal column had calcified, which in itself was not a problem. This calcification had begun to grow thorns pushing into the spinal column. He said he had researched and could find no record of this ever happening before. He was at a loss. He hesitated.

So I stated the obvious for him. If I had a fall,got hit in the head or if they continued to grow they could puncture my spinal cord and my lungs would seize.

Where these thorns were in relation to the spinal cord controlled the respiratory system. If I were at home or out I simply would suffocate. If at work they could put me on a respirator and I would have to keep it for the remainder of my life.

I told him, okay, I challenge you, the fixer, to find a way to operate and fix it.

He was shocked; reminded me I could die during surgery.

I told him if he found a way to take the disks and calcification out I would sign something in advance holding him harmless for anything that happened. I would fill out a DNR or do not resuscitate. If I would have to go on a respirator they would allow me to die.

My husband refused to agree, so my daughter volunteered to be my Power of Attorney over my health and she promised me not to allow anyone to challenge it not my demon mother, not my sisters, not my friends and not my husband.

Dr. Mac got with his ex-resident buddies -- one from John Hopkins, one from the Mayo Clinic and one from U.C.L.A. They invented a semi-circular titanium piece that would replace all of the dorsal or back vertebrae and attach the top piece to my skull, then a screw to each front half of the vertebrae and the bottom to my first thoracic disks between my shoulders.

The surgery went well. The apparatus was screwed into place and worked perfectly. I can hold my head up but not bend it back. I have to drink with straws or reclining. I can’t put my chin on my shoulders.

I have neck pain at times but I can live with it. It’s certainly better than the alternative.

He and his partners patented the device. My procedure was written up in medical journals.

The hospital, not Vanderbilt, got great publicity off the groundbreaking surgery done at their hospital.

Me, I’m just grateful to Dr. Mac; a doctor, with an inventive mind who took a chance and saved my life then and again later in my life.

I love that man.
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