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Archie Barrett

Lago Vista, TX
  • Archie Barrett in the photo 1
  • Archie Barrett in the photo 2

Today, Nov. 23, 2016, I completed my post-op for surgery 13 days ago that excised heterotopic ossification in my left hip. In layman’s terms, bone had replaced muscle and other tissue when I was recovering from hip replacement surgery last year. Dr. Mathias Bostrom removed bone fragments that together were about the size of my fist. To my astonishment, I have been walking without assistance, not even a cane, for 8 of the 13 days since the operation; I have suffered almost negligible pain; recovered significant range of motion; and my prognosis is for much more progress as the surgery heals.

I am 81 years old and my mother is 101, living alone, driving her car, caring for herself, taking care of her business affairs, and continuing 8 decades of concern for her children's welfare. She expressed such disquiet over my travelling from Texas to New York with my wife Miriam, who is 83, for the surgery that I promised to send her periodic detailed descriptions of our experiences and how things were progressing.

When I learned today about this web site, I decided to insert the e-mail I wrote my mother the day after I was discharged from the hospital, Nov. 13, 2016. I am no stranger to medical care: I had a heart attack in 1997 and colon cancer in 2011. I have appreciated the outstanding quality of care I have received for both of these maladies. It is from the perspective of a health-care "veteran" that I wrote this e-mail praising the treatment I received at HSS.


Dear Mom,

I got out of the hospital late yesterday afternoon.

It was the most positive hospital experience I have ever had. I kept expecting severe pain after the surgery; none emerged. After 24 hours I told the nurse I did not need any more narcotic. After 36 hours I graduated from a walker to a cane. Although I used a cane coming from the hospital to the apartment, I am about ready to discard it; I forget to use it in the apartment and when I realize that I don’t have it, I have to search for it.

Dr. Bostrom (the surgeon) and the hospital staff, from orderlies to nurses to physician’s assistants to doctors, could not have been nicer, more solicitous, or more compassionate. These people represented the most astounding mix of nationalities and ethnicities: Latinos from the U. S., Caribbean, and the Americas; African Americans from both the U. S. and Africa; a Lithuanian; a Bulgarian; several Asian-Americans; an Orthodox Jewish cardiologist who wears a yarmulke and who is the most meticulous heart doctor I have encountered in my 19 years of being treated for heart disease; and on and on. (He was conversant with the F4, the fighter-bomber I flew in Southeast Asia, because it has been the backbone of the Israeli Air Force. In fact, I think he knew more about the plane than I do.) The medical community in NY is truly a melting pot mixture of people who work together and “get ‘er done.” I would heartily recommend the Hospital for Special Surgery to anyone who has a need for treatment of a rare orthopedic infirmity.

My recovery room overlooked the East River. The hospital spans FDR Parkway; the roadway was literally directly below Miriam and me; we could see the traffic along the parkway, all manner of tug boats, barges, and other craft as they passed by on the river, and across to Roosevelt Island filled with high rise apartment buildings. Bikers moved along broad sidewalks by the water on the island.

While I was in the recovery room a very special person emerged at my bedside, Nurse Theresa Mastrangelo. By coincidence she is both a relative by marriage of Dr. Koops and a surgical nurse at the hospital. It was Theresa who suggested that I Dr. Bostrom was best suited to treat me. It was wonderful to meet her in person. Later, when she got off duty after a 12 hour shift, she insisted on taking Miriam home to the apartment.

After 24 hours I was moved to a room on the 10th floor. The view was not as spectacular but the other patient made up for that. He was a retired tug boat captain AND a member of the music hall of fame. What a combination! He was a denizen of two worlds with which I am completely unfamiliar. I plied him with questions about operating a tug boat in New Jersey and New York waters. He knows the harbors and waterways like the back of his hand. Running a tug boat and crew turns out to be similar in some ways to piloting a large aircraft—particularly with respect to berthing the tug and barges and landing the aircraft. In his other life he plays the organ; he learned to play at the age of 13. Professionally, he started out lugging a 350 pound Wurlitzer to gigs but his digital instrument now weighs less than 10 pounds. That’s fortunate because he has two knee replacements which prevent him from sea duty and would not allow him to transport heavy musical equipment. He made a good living on the water but plays music because he loves it, not because it is a lucrative vocation. Nevertheless, he has had a lot of success. He showed Miriam and me pictures on You Tube of his band and the presentation inducting him into the hall of fame. He plays jazz, rhythm and blues, and even country. He has a gift, he said. He has the ability to hear a song and both write it down as sheet music and play it. He said that his bucket list includes playing on Austin City Limits some day. I hope he gets to come to Austin.

Miriam is doing fine. She was supposed to be limited to 15 minutes in the recovery room but the nurse soon realized how important it was to us for her to be there. When the enforcer came by the nurse told him to come back later because we were going over important details. Miriam stayed for hours. When I went to the 10th floor Miriam was not limited. She caught the bus outside our apartment in mid-morning and got off at the hospital. She returned to the apartment late in the afternoon before dark.

Yesterday, we arranged for a car and driver to pick us up at the hospital door and take us directly to the apartment. We then found that the pharmacy does not deliver to the apartment on Sunday, contrary to our expectations. I decided to get my exercise in one dose and we walked—slowly—the four blocks to the pharmacy and back. I had absolutely no trouble and was ensured of a sound sleep. In fact, I was so tired that I could only watch half of the Seattle/Patriots ball game. This morning I learned that the Seahawks won and regret that I could not stay awake to see that happen.


That’s about it. The therapist just rang the doorbell so I’ll sign off till tomorrow.