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Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County
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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

The Director has returned

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, May 11, 2014

If you read the library article last week, you know that Sandy Day, our Local History and Genealogy Librarian, has announced her retirement following 19 years with the library system. When she told me some time ago, I was saddened by her retirement but understanding of her reasons for retirement. I was excited by her concern for the library system, and her desire to see a smooth transition within that department of the library. Sandy has been working closely with Erika Grubbs, her replacement, to be sure that Local History and Genealogy continues to be an important part of the library. Sandy has shared her knowledge and experience with Erika, and they are ready for the transition. Now, if you were wondering where I have been for the past 3 months that Sandy has been writing this Sunday column, I owe you an explanation. While all of you were dealing with the snowstorms and cold weather this past winter, I had surgery to fix my back, and I enjoyed reading Sandys columns rather than having to write them. I was ready to begin writing again in April, but Sandy wanted to finish her remaining days and complete them with Sunday columns that she had already written, which was fine with me. But now here is my story. It was almost midnight on Jan. 21, when I awoke to find myself in a comfortable hospital bed, all tucked in with a warm blanket. A Nurse looked at me and exclaimed, Well, Mr. Hall it appears that you are awake! Do you know where you are? I told her, Yes, according to the sign above my bed, I am at the Cleveland Clinic Surgical Intensive Care Unit. I knew she was testing my mental abilities and reading the sign-provided probably wouldnt answer her inquiry. Before she said anything else, I said, And the street outside this building is Carnegie Ave., a name that any good librarian would remember, and in 1976 and 1977 I went to school just down the street at Case Western Reserve University. I quickly added, Oh my, I am lying flat on my back which I havent been able to do for years! The Nurse kindly told me, Honey, we fixed that, remember that is why you are here! She told me that everything went perfectly in the almost 9 hour operation, and the doctor would tell me all about it in the morning, but in the meantime, I was to go to sleep. I thought that since I had been asleep since 7 am, why would I want to sleep all night as well, but I dozed off to be awakened by the serving of breakfast the next morning. The parade of medical students with iPads in-hand began the next day, with my surgery being described in detail as they circled my bed. I listened carefully, processing information like librarians are trained to do. My Lumbar vertebrae had been repaired and a Stryker cage installed with Stryker screws, and cement made from something put it all together. That benign spinal tumor that had been hitching a ride inside my back for up to 30 years was completely gone, but was described in detail to the medical students with drawings, diagrams, and photos (yeech) to aid in their learning process. For me, the best part was that the 2700 mg of pain medication that I had been taking since last summer was reduced and ended on Valentines Day. While I certainly appreciate the skills of these surgeons, I want to also thank the staff and doctors at Trinity Health System for the tests and evaluations they did last summer as we pinpointed and isolated my back problems. Those medical reports and tests went to the Cleveland Clinic with me and were the basis for the surgery performed there. (Maybe sometime I will tell you about the tour of the operating room that they provided before surgery, or not!) Anyway, last weekend I mowed my yard at home, 14 weeks after surgery. All pain is gone, all pain pills are gone. My only worry is that magnets may stick to my back now. Along the way I had wonderful conversations with the medical staff about their use of the local libraries. They seemed surprised that I knew a lot about Cuyahoga County libraries and their services until I told them I was President of the state association at one time, and got to meet many Ohio librarians. I used my walker to go to the hospital window and view the daily Cleveland blizzard, which slowed enough on Jan 30 to allow me to return home for further care. And here is located my best Caregiver, my wife. And here is my best Family, my friends at the Two Ridges Presbyterian Church.