A TGB Reader Story: Who Am I?
Two Age Things of Opposing Interest

What Peter Tibbles Did on His Birthday

Short answer: “I broke my neck.”

[Ronni here for a moment. As most of you know, Peter Tibbles writes the Sunday Time Goes By column, Elder Music. It surprised me when I checked just now that he's been doing this for almost a decade – 2019 will be ten years.

Peter and Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, who live in Australia, are old friends now - they've even visited me here in Oregon. Twice. September 16 was Peter's 73rd birthday and – well, I'll let him tell the rest of the story.]

* * *

Technically, that happened about an hour before the big day. Norma, the Assistant Musicologist, was around for dinner, and I was seeing her off at the door when I started coughing, blacked out momentarily – just a second or two – and went downwards.

My head must have gone at an angle that it wasn’t meant to. The pain was way, way off the charts (and I used to have migraines as a youth and early adult, so I know about that).

Norma rang the ambulance and they arrived in about four minutes (one of their stations is just around the corner) and they did all that stuff you see when football players go down. There was an extra degree of difficulty – getting down two flights of stairs (or four, depending on how you count them).

Off to Emergency at the Alfred Hospital where I hung around looking at the ceiling for about five hours until they did x-rays, CT scans, CAT scans and whatnot.

It turned out to be a break in the C1 and C2 bones of the spine (those up closest to the head). Then my birthday was spent flat on my back staring vaguely towards the ceiling as I couldn’t see much without my glasses on.

To make things even more entertaining, the next couple of days consisted of vast amounts of projectile vomiting, lots of fun at any time, but even more so when you’re flat on your back wearing a rigid collar. This was unrelated to the fall and it wasn’t concussion.

For the next couple of days I was helpless as a kitten up a tree, but after about four days I was starting to walk around a little, and that kept improving.

In the meantime they took out blood, put stuff into me (including some good pain killers), and connected me to machines that went “bing”. They took my blood pressure seemingly about every 15 minutes.

I’m now home and I have to sleep with just a folded towel under my head, no pillows. It surprised me by being not at all uncomfortable, and I’ve slept really well. It’s difficult getting out of bed in the morning; it usually takes three or four attempts before I manage that.

So, I’ll be wearing this collar for the next three months, eating healthy food (gasp) and eschewing wine (yikes).

* * *

[Ronni again. For some period of time, Peter tells me, he won't be able to sit for long at his computer. But that won't stop Sunday's Elder Music. We have a reasonable backlog and if that runs out, there is that decade of old columns that are worth exploring.]


Dear Peter,

I guess saying "Happy Birthday!" might not sound so celebratory just now....
Consider that your 75th won't be your most difficult?

Thankfully your trusty, capable Norma was there to assist you in a new way. Everyone is thankful for that and for you entering, being in and leaving those dreadful experiences.

Now young man, do as you're told, and in 3 months you'll get the brace off, will have freedom of movement and can (safely) indulge in a better than good-enough wine to celebrate your body's freedom.

I'm very sorry this happened to you. Selfishly confess to hoping you and Norma will be able to keep Sunday morning music going after a hiatus to regroup.
Best of wishes to you for a rapid recovery.

He's lucky to be alive with a break at that level.
Keeping good thoughts for his full and speedy recovery.

One of my friends was just told by her doctor that a sudden, violent coughing spasm is often a sign of a stroke. I hope Peter's team ruled this out right away! Happy birthday, Peter, wishing you a complete and quick healing. And thanks for all the music memories, keep them coming!

Well that sucks! I hate life changing moments of that kind.

Take care and get well. We enjoy your weekly additions to our lives.

Wishes for quick and easy healing.

Hoping he heals quickly, love his column.

Well, at least when you were down you were looking up.
Hope things keep looking up and getting better and better.

That stinks. What a way to start your Birthday. Well, as Simone said, follow the doctors orders and get a first class bottle of wine when you get out of that collar.

I have broken a few bones over my short life of 77 and know the business of recouping after a fall.
This will pass even tho you don’t believe. My last fall was at the beach in Oregon just after thanksgiving. My trip to Phoenix at Christmas was already planned to visit daughter and family. I went with the wheelchair, I was told no weight bearing for two and a half month#. I will mention I had a couple of meltdowns with my daughter , I will never be out of this wheelchair. A very consoling daughter convinced me this will pass. And of course it did!!!

So sorry to hear this, Peter! I know what you are going through having had a similar problem last January. It ain't fun, but at least you got to go home to your own bed! Sending positive energy your way. Be well, soon. Dee:):)

“...the next couple of days consisted of vast amounts of projectile vomiting, lots of fun at any time...” Good gosh, Peter, what a mis-adventure! But I have no doubt your marvelous sense of humor, present even in times of adversity, will see you through. Here’s wishing you a happy birthday and a speedy recovery!

Ronnie: Tell Peter that I can relate. The very end of August I had a crazy fall and fractured C7 bone in my neck. Another case of broken neck. As I am 83 years old I did not want surgery so that neck brace is the answer 24/7 until December when hopefully that bone will heal. Isn't that neck brace a very attractive addition to our good looks? LOL. I wish Peter well along with myself.
Ronnie, I so enjoy your blog.
Gail Mahoney

I am sorry that Peter cannot write his music comments each week. I look forward to his comments even more than listening to his music selections.

However I am so glad that he survived this serious fall and I did learn from his description which was humorous despite of his suffering.

We always learn from diversity. But the most important learning is that we are stronger than we knew.

Falls are the pits as we all know, but it does get better--just takes time. So sorry you had this mishap, but love your sense of humor through it all. Sending all good wishes to you, Peter, and may you have a rapid recovery.

Belated Happy Birthday Peter. I hope you have a speedy recovery - I do love your weekly posts!

Oh @#$% Peter! What a terrifying experience, for and Norma both I would imagine.

So glad you're going to be okay. That phrase "broke my neck" is three little words that have always given me chills.

I do think, though, that this experience qualifies you as grand prize winner of Ronni's "What was your most difficult birthday" post. Which is saying something, given the stiff competition you were up against. What does he win, Ronni?

Yikes! It is always something surprising these days...and about half of these surprise happenings are life changing, at least for a while. My 76th was getting pneumonia. Take care Peter. I send you all kinds of virtual healing energy. There...pow...did you get it?

anyone who can write with wit and humor about something like this is to be admired. Keep up the wit, Peter -- do as you are told-----and soon enough you will be up again and back to -- yes -- the best wine you can find.

Cheers t0 you and Norma too.

Ruth-Ellen Joeres

If an award was given you
In the meantime, get well soon.

Happy birthday, Peter, and we are so sorry to hear of your ill fortune! I guess it's just one of those things that happen to those of us who are fortunate enough to live into older age. We do hope you heal quickly and are back into fighting form once again!

John and Beth Moe
Indiana USA

Scary Peter! Hope you heal well and soon.

What a frightening incident. So glad he wasn't alone at the time. All the best to Peter for a full and speedy recover.

An eventful birthday, get well soon. I know the Emergency room at the Alfred and you were in good hands. I really enjoy your music column, it is one of the highlights of my week

Wow, Peter! Keep writing down those one-liners. You will feel more like laughing at them yourself later, and it won't hurt as much. Wore one of those collars after a disc surgery. Such fun. Couldn't drive for a month. Took that opportunity to quit smoking which was good, but don't forget the good taste of that Australian wine. Will be especially tasty when you are off the heavy meds.

Cheers and smooth healing.

Dear Peter,
So glad you are on the way out of that very unpleasant experience! I enjoy your choice of music every week and know that anyone with that fine taste (and sometimes a piquant sense of humor) in music has got to be a great guy with a big heart and a fine ear.
Warmest regards from a far distant admirer,
Miki Davis, Vista, CA USA

I am so sorry about your injury Peter. Spinal fractures are extremely painful I know. Keeping that wonderful sense of humor is going to be so helpful in the healing process. I will be thinking of you and commiserating as you continue to heal.

The suggestion of having an excellent wine to celebrate with when this awful experience is over is a great idea. With anticipation, focus on just what vintage wine would be the most enjoyable. That should take your mind off of the ordeal.

Wow! Best wishes for a complete and speedy recovery!

Major bummer, dude! So sorry to hear of your injury and very glad you are on the road to recovery. We are basically such fragile organisms!

Dear Peter so sorry and hope the healing is quick. Do you turn on your side to get up? That works for me, a lean on the elbow, feet drop over the side and walla I'm up. Of course if I do all that to fast I may find myself in the chair beside the bed. :-)

Dejar Peter, Hope everything will be better. A big hug from México.

You have my full sympathy Peter and I am so pleased you are recovering so well and with such positiveness. A C1 & C2 spinal break is extremely serious.
My husband had the same thing happen to him from a fall, but he was required to have a halo brace for 7 months until his neck healed. That one is bolted into the skull in 4 places then secured by 4 rods to a body brace. These pins into his skull needed tensioning every fortnight which meant a 4 hour train trip to the hospital, and same home.
Keep getting well and be careful. All Ronnie's fans appreciate the good work you do each Sunday, thank you.

You will be pleased to hear that Peter's first laugh when he got back onto the computer, was seeing Ronni's 'What Was Your Most Difficult Birthday?' column title.

OMG, I think you win hands down: THAT was a difficult birthday! Sometimes we don't realize how lucky we are, I guess (even if it doesn't feel that way). Until I read your b'day story, I thought I was having neck/back problems! But I haven't broken anything (so far anyway).

Best wishes for a smooth and speedy recovery. My husband and I love your column! He's a huge music fan.

Those are rather significant cervical segments as you know first hand. Have had some similar area disc experience myself years ago — stay flat on your back most hours of the day, no pillows, were instructions I had, among others — interesting and challenging time in my younger life. Just do what they tell you. Be patient!

Always managed to avoid the few projectile vomiters I encountered when providing swallowing therapy — know that was no fun for you either. Behave yourself and listen to your Asst.!

You’ll just have to experiment with speech assisted technology, lots of podcasts, audio books and ...... recoded music!

Rotten luck Peter - yes keep your sense of humour - just don't laugh too much! Get Well ASAP

Oh no! So sorry to hear about Peter's "Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad birthday." (I hear they even have them in Australia.)

Peter -- I hope you have lots of support in doing what it will take over the next few months to get back to a sound body. While it is rotten luck, we're fortunate to live in an age when there's so much technology to make times like this -- when we're confined to a supine position and inactivity -- more tolerable. Let others take good care of you, and hold on to that wonderful sense of humor!

Wishing you a speedy recovery!!

Sending you healing thoughts. You have a great sense of humor, must be a huge help at a time like this!

We are so sorry. Especially about the wine. Hugs, and never let them take your glasses, teeth, or ears again. LOL

OUCH!!!! Talk about winning the category of "Unpleasant Birthday Surprises"! Definitely a birthday you won't forget. So so sorry about your accident; so so grateful Norma was there and good hospital care, too. May your wonderful music library accompany your recovery and may your recovery be complete.

211 Appaloosa Dr

Sorry - disregard that goof...

Peter-Your gift every Sunday brings me such delight. May you heal fully and rapidly. Wishing you many blessings.

Hello, I am just reading this now, 10/14, I do hope your recovery is going well. Every birthday is different, but each is still a gift!

You were probably still under the influence of those good painkillers when the sad musical news came 'round on the 28th- Marty Balin died. I do hope you will do a column on him and the Jefferson Airplane/Starship when you resume writing. I was a SF Bay Area boomer and life long fan, that was the music of my coming of age. Miracles still gives me chiils. Thanks for your great work and be well.

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