After wearing the halo 24/7 for 14 weeks or exactly 99 days, it was time for it to come off.
My entourage watched the neurosurgeon and the nurse remove it from me. I was so ready for this moment that I already read personal accounts and watched a couple of YouTube videos of how this would happen and feel… two months before. The process took less than eight minutes.
Did the unscrewing of the pins from my skull hurt? Yes. Was it excruciating? No. I would have had to be admitted to the hospital if they gave me a local anaesthetic. With all the hassles of the day, I could not be burdened by another obstacle to my imminent freedom from this wretched halo brace. I just took some Tylenol an hour prior to the appointment. Did blood come running down my face? No. Not that I expected that to happen anyway, but some people did ask.
I felt lightheaded when they removed everything and my head and neck were completely free. I moved my shoulders around, but my head and neck had to stay perfectly still. It lasted a mere 20 seconds before they applied the new brace called a Minerva jacket. It weighed only two pounds and practically felt like pillows against me compared to the seven pounds of metal and hard plastic that was the halo. My neurosurgeon was so satisfied with the healing that he said I could wear this new brace for only six weeks, instead of the eight he previously told me. By the sounds of it, the six weeks was mainly as a precaution. I DON’T WANT TO HAVE A BRACE ANYMORE, I thought, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially with my kind of injury.
My halo brace was disposed of in a large, orange garbage bag that said BIOHAZARD. I thanked my neurosurgeon and his staff for everything they had done for me since Day 1, hard feelings aside. Before I left the office I looked at the inner wool lining to see if there were any disgusting pieces of brown, dead skin on it. It looked very clean, actually! Wiping myself with baby wipes there everyday wasn’t for nothing.
We stopped at the CT scan facility to obtain the CD and report of the scan. I requested it when I was there earlier, but someone forgot to actually process it. We waited around for the nth time that day.
I took the opportunity to flaunt MY NEW NECK BRACE.
We stopped at a grocery store to get some food and drinks for the long ride back home. Though I am usually vehemently against buying baked goods at a grocery store, I celebrated this joyous occasion by buying and eating my favourite cake.
THEN IT WAS GOOD-BYE FOREVER, LANCASTER, CALIFORNIA!!! No more two-hour drives just to see my doctors!
At home we told everyone the great news. My aunt was so happy for me. Except for my grandparents, we all went out for Korean tofu soup to celebrate.
This was my second time to eat at a restaurant while in a neck brace. LOL.
That night was the first time my face touched a pillow since late April. And it was already August.
Over the next few days I planned our impending return to Canada. I also had the longest, most refreshing, most satisfying head-to-toe showers of my entire life!