Jen's favorite quotes

"I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best."— Marilyn Monroe

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Scoliosis Surgery

I felt like writing this down as an exercise in looking back at the past and analyzing it through adult eyes. It's very different as compared to the way I view it all now. Also, I don't think that I wrote anything down then and this is sad. This is a way to fix that I guess. It is in no way complete.

Part of my story:
I had a double curve that was discovered by my ballet teacher when I was 12 and then fully discovered by an x-ray for pneumonia when I was 14. I was sent to Shriners Children Hospital in Philadelphia for consultation. After they revealed I had severe curves in both the upper and lower parts of my back, they told me I needed a brace or surgery. I wore a brace for about a year, at night and hated it. It stopped my curve from advancing but was very uncomfortable.
I was ashamed of my condition at this point. I have no idea why-I just was. Maybe because people were putting me in the crippled category and I didn't see myself that way.

They gave me the option for surgery and I went for it. It was performed by one of the best spinal surgeons in the country and Shriners had the best care and support of any hospital I've ever been to. I was determined to be out of there though and I was told that walking would get me there. So the day of my surgery I got out of bed and walked across the room.

I continued to do this until they sent me home. It was crazy and it took awhile to heal. Thanks to 12 years of ballet I had more flexibility than I should have and I pushed the envelope to do things so I could heal faster. There were setbacks- I cried when they pulled the bandages off for the first time and the first time I took a shower. There were limitations to what I could and couldn't do, there are still a few nevers, but it was the best decision I ever made.

Injury Series-Scoliosis Neckalce by Slashpile on Etsy


So the other night I had a dream that I had to have my scoliosis surgery again. Only this time I was terrified and in lots of pain. It was a big mess and I was very upset, I wish I could remember that time but it is blurred for me in the past.
I remember having a dream before I had the surgery that the surgery was over and I couldn't remember anything about it. I suppose that's where I am in my life now. I hope my new dream has to do with reading all about the latest findings in scoliosis surgery and not because it is a harbinger.

For those who don't know about this process. An excerpt from Kids explaining about the surgery:

Braces often do the job, but some kids who have scoliosis eventually need an operation. Someone who gets this operation will be given anesthesia, a kind of medicine that puts a person to sleep and prevents pain during the operation. During the operation, the orthopedic surgeon fuses the bones in the spine together so that they can no longer continue to curve. The surgeon also uses metal rods, hooks, screws, and wires to correct the curve and hold everything in line until the bones heal. The metal parts are placed deep under the spine muscles, and in most cases can't be felt and do not hurt. They are meant to be left in the back permanently.

The operation takes several hours, depending on how big the curve is and how many bones need to be fused. Normally, a kid who has this operation will be able to get out of bed the next day and start to walk, doesn't need to wear a cast or brace, and can usually go home in less than a week. The kid can usually go back to school about a month after surgery, then return to some activities in 3 or 4 months, and most normal activities after 6 to 12 months. But keep in mind that each patient's surgery and recovery might be different, depending on the type of surgery and the patient's age.

A metal rod in a kid's back? It may sound strange, but that rod has an important job while the bones are growing together. It holds the spine in place during healing. The kid can still move to pet the dog, swim laps, or shoot hoops. After the bones fuse, the metal rod isn't needed anymore. But it's not hurting anything, so it isn't removed. To remove it would mean getting another operation. Before they used metal rods, a kid would have to wear a body cast for up to a year to keep the spine in place during the recovery period. No fun at all!

It's really not so bad once you get through it. I didn't have to wear a brace afterwards at all. My recovery is hard for me to remember now but I know there were moments of extreme pain. All in all though I am extremely happy i had it done.