Dr. Arthur Kobrine is one of my all time heroes. Here’s the back story of how I met this amazing man: While I was in Peace Corps, my back started hurting a lot and my feet started going numb. Not fun. Eventually (after drinking lots of hot liquids, gatorade, sleeping with the windows closed), I convinced the PC doctors to get me an x-ray. They found that I had a mass inside my spinal column. Pretty freaky. They ended up sending me (with Jesse, thank goodness!) to the Peace Corps headquarters in Washington DC. We packed up everything, said goodbye to our friends and family and headed back state-side. By and by, PC hooked me up with Dr. Kobrine.
Now, you have to understand this: Dr. Kobrine is the absolute best neurosurgeon in the world. Understand? Good. He operated on James Brady when he was shot (apparently there’s a TV movie made about this in which David Strathairn plays Dr. Kobrine (which totally makes sense! They totally look alike!)) and even performed back surgery on Heydar Aliyev’s sister or daughter or something (he had an Azeri carpet in his office… weird). So, here I was, getting ready to have surgery by the best neurosurgeon in the world. He explained the procedure like it was as easy as brushing his teeth. I never, for a moment, felt nervous. I knew I was in good hands. Looking back, that seems kind of strange, I feel like I should have been nervous.
I was out for about 7 hours. In that time, Dr. Kobrine completely removed the lamina from my T-8 and T-9 vertebra. When he got that off, he could see that I had an olive sized tumor that was basically filling my spinal column and my spinal cord was being compressed to the size of a ribbon. He removed the whole tumor (yay!), sewed me back up and now I can walk. He later told me that I was probably a month or two away from being permanently paralyzed from the middle of my back down. (phew!)
When Jesse and I left his office a week after surgery, we both had a very surreal feeling. How do you thank and say goodbye to the man who essentially saved my life? Well, that’s pretty much why he’s my hero.