| Detroit Free Press
How good are the Detroit Lions? And when will they pay Kenny Golladay?
Breaking down the Detroit Lions, after their win over the Atlanta Falcons, and debating the Kenny Golladay contract issue. Filmed Oct. 26, 2020.
I went in for neck surgery — a fusion of three vertebrae — and came out sounding like Marge Simpson.
My voice is a raspy, gravelly mess — and it could stay that way for a while — but I am pain free. I have stopped using marijuana edibles and I’m totally off pain killers. Which means, some of these columns might actually make some sense now.
Nah, probably not …
But all in all, the surgery was a tremendous success and I’ve been cleared to work.
So hallelujah to that.
But after living with a neck brace for several weeks, I did learn some important lessons: First of all, never watch a scary movie after a four-hour neck surgery. After two nights in the hospital, I went home and started watching “Invisible Man,” the story of a scientist who fakes his own death and begins terrorizing his ex-girlfriend. Now, I have to admit I get emotionally invested in movies, especially scary ones. And that’s the nice way of saying: I have an overactive imagination and usually get scared out of my mind.
I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but after a few minutes I was so startled that I jumped back and jerked my head and pain shot through my right arm— as bad as it hurt before surgery for a second — and I had to turn the movie off because I was afraid that I had messed up my neck again.
Which would make a great advertisement: “Watch ‘Invisible Man’ — so scary it will make you feel like your head is gonna fall off.”
For the rest of my recovery, I switched to comedies and started watching “Schitt’s Creek,” which I highly recommend. But there are no scary twists.
Thank you, readers
Now, I need to thank my surgeon, Dr. Gregory Graziano — the guy is a miracle worker sent from heaven.
And the nurses and staff at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital were incredible — I dare you to find a hospital with better food. There was a point when I had some complications and couldn’t swallow liquids without choking, and a brilliant young male nurse started putting my pills in apple sauce. Yeah, I felt like a child, but it worked.
And I would like to thank all of the readers who sent me hundreds of emails, wishing me well and giving me advice. It truly meant a lot and was actually quite helpful.
Of course, there was a large group of readers who contacted me, wondering what type of edibles I was using toease my pain — but that’s a different story.
As I understand it, Dr. Graziano cut into the front of my neck, which seems counterintuitive, like using the front door to get to the back porch — so be it. He dug in, moved stuff around, took out the bulging discs, screwed titanium brackets against my vertebrae, fused three of them together and put in a bone graft. I saw the X-ray and it’s comical: It looks like he set up a game of Chutes and Ladders on my spinal column.
I spent a couple weeks sleeping on a recliner — an excellent suggestion from several readers!
And I’ve found living with a neck brace is, um, complicated. And taking a shower required a pit crew — namely, my wife.
“I dropped the soap,” I said to my wife in my best Marge Simpson tone, unable to bend down. Doctors orders and all.
“You gotta be freakin’ kidding me!” she replied, opening the door and getting it.
Two of my fingers are still numb on my hand, which makes typing challenging, but Graziano says that should come back.
Other than that, I feel great.
For years, I would turn my head and it sounded like crushed marbles in my neck. Now, I move my head and it’s silent. A couple of days ago, I woke up thinking: “I have absolutely no pain,” and it was stunning. I got up and my knees hurt — a tiny bit — and so did my ankles.
But that’s just the pain that comes from being in your 50s. I’ll take that any day of the week.
That kind of pain is just child’s play in comparison to what I was going through. Actually, what so many are going through. This whole experience has opened my eyes to how many people are struggling. I heard from countless readers who are experiencing debilitating pain. To all of you, I pray you find some relief.
About those Lions …
The other thing I learned on a six-week sick leave was this: Having weekends off is an awesome thing. You can get such a different perspective of sports when you watch them nonstop without having to write on deadline.
I spent the last six weeks watching just about every sporting event available, which was an incredible luxury. You wanna know a dirty little secret about sports writing? You rarely have time to watch sports, other than what you are covering, especially in the fall. If you go to a college football game on Saturday, you spend all day driving and working and reporting and writing and you don’t get to watch any other games, other than some highlights. Sure, you might see a late game. But that’s it. And the same thing happens on Sunday, if you cover the Lions.
Add in flights and hotels and Ubers and restaurants and your view is limited and your perspective can get twisted.
But I’ve spent the last six weeks confined to a recliner, watching countless games.
Quick note to L.A. Dodgers’ Justin Turner, who was removed in the eighth inning of their World Series-clinching victory because of a positive COVID-19 test: I get it. You wanted to celebrate with your team after winning the World Series. And you would have missed out, if you would have isolated like you were instructed to. But tell that to the brides who lost their weddings because of the pandemic, grand kids who can’t hug their grandparents, and all the family members who couldn’t be in the hospital when somebody died. It’s gonna take all of us, making sacrifices to get out of this pandemic.
On a happier note, I spent the last six weeks watching several talented, fascinating NFL teams playing tremendous football, including the Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, Tennessee Titans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Those are the true contenders in the NFL — some, obviously, with better chances than others.
And I can say with complete confidence the Lions are nowhere close. They are not contenders. And it’s nothing but foolish blind faith to think they are. I know the Lions are 3-3. And you can argue that this team would be 4-2 if D’Andre Swift would have caught that go-ahead TD pass in the opener against the Bears. But if you want to play those games, you can also argue that this team should be 2-4 if Todd Gurley would have taken a knee. So be it. The Lions are a .500 team, same as they ever were, and unless they dramatically improve, they are gonna finish 8-8.
Beating the Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons in back-to-back games is fool’s gold.
I don’t want to be a pain in the neck on my first day back, because that pain is actually gone now, but the Lions will fall apart at the end when they play the big boys down the stretch.
Which means, they’ll be up Schitt’s Creek.
Yes, we have all seen that scary movie before.
I’ll be the one watching and wearing a neck brace. Just to be safe.
Contact Jeff Seidel: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @seideljeff. To read his recent columns, go to freep.com/sports/jeff-seidel