The nurses got to calling it the Chatty Cathy Suite.
That’s where Patricia “Patty” Lambert and Margaret “Marge” Schernecke both recovered from spine surgery at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and turned from strangers to fast friends after discovering that they shared so much more in common.
“We like to laugh a lot, and we like to talk about what interests us: fashion, decorating, restaurants, wine,” Lambert said. “We just found it very nice to be able to have a room partner that you really like. We just clicked. It was meant to be.”
Dr. James Harrop, a neurosurgeon and chief of Jefferson Health’s Division of Spine and Peripheral Nerve Surgery, treated Lambert, who suffered from pain in her lower back and sciatica down a leg. She had an L5-S1 fusion and is now pain free.
Schernecke saw Dr. Christopher Kepler, an orthopedic spine surgeon who rebuilt her lower back from the L2 to L5 segments to relieve pain. She was on her feet the next day. “It was just miraculous,” she said.
Perhaps just as striking was how quickly Lambert and Schernecke hit it off in their room, where they recovered for four days in October 2018. Both Philadelphia natives and city residents, the two found shared interests in traveling abroad, dining throughout Philadelphia and dancing (both had frequented the Second Story dance club when they were younger). They were so talkative that their nurses dubbed the room the Chatty Cathy Suite.
Since their discharge, the two talk by phone a few times a week—including to share milestones in their recovery and measure each other’s progress—and recently met for dinner during Restaurant Week.
Before her procedure, Lambert said she “never gave it a thought” that she might meet a new friend but that “it was the best experience to have met Marge.”
Schernecke said she was motivated to relieve her back pain when she could no longer go on amusement rides with her 8-year-old granddaughter, Elizabeth. Now, Schernecke is looking forward to Elizabeth’s first Communion in May and may even learn the dance move the floss for the celebration party.
Surely, Lambert will get updates along the way.
“I know we’re going to remain friends forever,” Schernecke said. “Absolutely.”