Eyes Wide Open

A Perspective From Within

Fashion Forward


It felt like I had been horizontal and trapped in a cage forever. Every minute seemed like 30. I was not allowed to bring my bed up past a 30% incline because of my blood pressure problems. Counting ceiling tiles became a hobby for me. I can tell you the ceiling vents in ICU at Jackson need to be cleaned desperately. Rest assured, maintenance was called. On a high note, Dr. Green informed me that my halo could come off. He told me the scans of my neck looked great, and the halo was overkill. Hallelujah! It was like a dream come true. In place of the halo, they put on what is called a J collar, which is way more user-friendly than a very constricting halo. At the hospital where I had my surgery, the surgeon told me that I would have to have the halo on for 16 weeks. I couldn’t even imagine having that freakish metal cage on my head and body for that long. 

When Ann Marie and I first arrived at Jackson, people who worked in the ICU looked at me in sort of a strange way. I was hearing quiet comments and whispers like “I haven’t seen one of those in a long time” or “I didn’t realize those were still used”. Many eyes were on me looking at what seemed to them to be a vintage piece of medical apparatus that had just arrived. It was comparable to showing up with that same huge brick Motorola DynaTAC cell phone, circa 1987, that Gordon Gecko used in the first Wall Street movie. The battery on that phone weighed about 2 pounds and had an enormously long one hour battery life. It also stored up to 30 phone numbers in it’s contact list…wow.  Back then, people thought they were the shit when they pulled that thing out. For anyone that knows me, to have or wear anything that was even borderline out of style would have mortified me. It just wouldn’t of happened. The halo was medically out of style. Okay, back to the removal.

After Dr. Green told me the halo could be removed, the excitement of finally having that horrid thing unscrewed from my head left me sleepless. I once again deferred to my trusty friend Ativan to help me out that night. Bright and early, two of Dr. Green’s residents came in to remove the halo. I really liked these two guys. They were young, good-looking, funny, and sarcastic with a great bedside manner. They also had a calming element about them that put me at ease. The one funny and sarcastic one ended up rounding on me every day until I went to rehab. Since halos were like dinosaurs to them, they had to try to figure out a way to remove it. As they were examining the foreign apparatus on my head, both of them were bantering back-and-forth about whether they had the tools necessary for removal. I suggested they go to Ace Hardware. They came back with a small wrench and a quarter. Apparently, they could not find a flathead screwdriver so they figured a quarter would suffice. They told me that the removal should not be painful, but of course I was worried about the fact that something was being unscrewed from my skull. They assured me that there was morphine locked and loaded in case it started to be painful. The removal went fairly quick and was pain-free. They asked me if I wanted to keep the halo as a memento, and I graciously declined. Do people actually keep these? Should I have sold it on eBay..,”Used halo, like new condition, worn once”…


3 thoughts on “Fashion Forward

  1. Mary,
    Buffy Tavolier McDermott here. I was given your blog by a friend and I wanted to let you know how sorry I was to hear of your unfortunate accident! I have been praying and thinking about you since I heard and it looks like all the many prayers being sent your way are definately helping! But it seems your amazing spirit and energy is the real healer here! I forwarded your blog to Mary Anne Luisi Nichols whom I keep in close contact with. I will continue the prayers and positive thoughts your way and hope that God will continue to bless you with constant progress!
    God Bless!

  2. Hi Mary, so glad to read about your progress. You make us smile. Thanks!

  3. Mary
    I am so glad I could be of assistance in trashing that halo! What a great day that was when I could throw that thing away for you ! It really felt like another big step in the right direction.
    Your an amazing woman with such strength and courage!
    I’m so glad to be able to call you my friend!
    Love ya
    Kristine Basnett

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