I took the car in for its regular service today. That meant driving to Aurora Avenue, a miles long strip populated by streetwalkers, weed shops, car dealerships and places to buy doughnuts. I walked a half mile to the Starbucks, which looked like it was boarded up but had just had the front door smashed and replaced with plywood. Stay classy, Seattle.
Earlier in the day, I went to the hospital, the culmination of several months of visiting doctors. Back in May, I strained my neck climbing, and my physio told me she thought I had a damaged disc in my neck and should get an MRI.
I went to my primary care physician, who gave me a referral and two big tubes of pills. Then I went to see a spine specialist at Harborview down in central Seattle. He didn’t think an MRI was worthwhile because I didn’t show any symptoms, but, possibly to shut me up, had some x-rays taken. Then I sat in a gown in a room on the fifth floor of a building for a very long time.
Eventually, somebody came to apologize for keeping me waiting, and a while after that, the specialist cane back to explain that I’d been waiting not because he’d stepped out for nine holes of golf, but because he’d been on the phone with another expert, because my x-ray showed up a lack of a c1 vertebra.
This is the bit that connects your head to your neck, so it’s not great to be missing it. He told me not to do any snowboarding or cycling, and I spent a month worrying about how precariously my head was attached to the rest of me.
Then I got a CT scan, and that showed about two cm of missing circumferential bone (see how medicine teaches you new words), and more advice to not go snowboarding. In June.
The national expert in this sort of thing practices in Seattle, so then I got another appointment, and so today I went to Harborview for this. That meant a few more x-rays, and then a doctor from Colorado took me through it, and her conclusion was that, rather than my head being ready to fall off at any moment, I’m at about as much risk as anyone else, so the odd little congenital lack of ossification of my vertebra isn’t anything to worry about, and I can proceed with my life as normal.
Which is a bit different to what the first and third medical professionals said, but I’m not going to complain that I’m sturdier than they thought.