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The good part about writing Stephanie's story is that I have an excuse to call her all the time. I ask her to edit the pieces for accuracy and clarity. I fear that what I'm writing is too personal, or that the style is could be offensive in some way. It's such a delicate situation. But Steph always answers my prodding questions graciously, explains varying medical procedures with patience. The story is important to tell for many reasons, one of which being to prevent this from ever happening again, to anyone.
I'm sitting at the cafe in Boone as evening settles purple-grey on highway 421. I'm almost done writing up a section of the story when I decide to call Steph, just to say hi. It's been about a week since I visited her at Duke. We were all waiting to see what would happen during the next six weeks as the blood patches hardened into place. We held our breath. We counted the minutes that she stayed whole.
She picked up and I knew instantly. She spoke slowly, as if through a haze. She said hello, asked me how I was.
"Steph-" I said, feeling panic blow up like a balloon beneath my ribs. "What happened?"
"It didn't work," she said, simply. BAM. The balloon burst. I felt winded.
"Oh. I'm sorry" The inadequacy of my reaction floated between us. "What's going to happen next?"
"I'm going back to Duke, this time they're going to mix glue in with my blood, hopefully that will make it stick."
"Okay, Steph. It's going to work this time."
"I know it is."