View Full Version : Does anybody ski?

Denise Preuss
10-07-2004, 10:50 AM

I'm new to this forum. Karen Ocker directed me this way a while back and I forgot about it until now. (Hi Karen!!)

I will be 45 this month and had surgery this past 7/30...fused from T4-sacrum. They went in anteriorally and posterially. I don't know what my new degrees are but my xrays show some incredible correction. That was my first surgery.

I'm coming along, getting used to different body mechanics, the feel of metal in my back....some days are better than others. I'm taking PT 3 X a week, including aquatics 2 X a week.

I am happy that I had the surgery and really happy that it's behind me!

I realize that I may be getting ahead of myself but I do have a question.

Since your surgery, has anybody here had the chance to resume (snow) skiing? My family and I really enjoy this and my surgeon said it will be "a couple" of years before I can do it again.

Does anybody have any experience with this?

Thanks for any info.

10-08-2004, 12:14 AM
I loved to ski, and as my back got worse, I had to stop among other sports..My surgery was June 28th and we're planning a skiing vacation in Jan...I would love to ski and I will ask my doctor...but I would be so worried about falling.....

Denise Preuss
10-08-2004, 08:42 AM
Hi Connie!

Before my surgery, my spine looked exactly like an "S". Because of it's shape, I always wondered just how stable my spine really was. I wondered if I fell, skiing or just doing something else, would my spine be more likely to break than a normally shaped spine.

My surgeon said to give skiing a "couple of years", UGH!

One thing I have noticed though that could affect my skiing is that since I am now 3 inches taller (that's right, 3 inches!), my balance is slightly off at times because my center of gravity has changed.

For instance, if I stand on a step ladder, I feel a little unbalanced.

But, I think that by the time I'm ready to resume skiing, I'll be used to my new height.

Let me know what your surgeon says about skiing this year.


10-09-2004, 09:22 PM
Hi Denise,
First of all, I'm interested in following your progression b/c I also have an S curve and my fusion length will most likely be the same as yours. I'm 40 now and I'm just starting to think about surgery again after an 8 year hiatus of starting a family. It'll probably take me a few years to make the decision and get the courage. I'll be interested to hear what activities you're able to do once you fully recover. Congratulations on having the successful operation over with!

Regarding skiing, the first surgeon I saw in my 20's had a photo of one of his former patients on the slopes. She was a competetive skier pre-op. His opinion was the following: It is a dangerous sport, even without a fusion. If you've never skiied, don't take it up after fusion. If you are a good skiier, proceed with lots of caution. He said one of the risks is that without the spinal flexibility, you can more easily break your neck. I reiterate that this was one opinion, many years ago. I don't know the stats on this and I would certainly ask your doctor directly about this risk.

Denise Preuss
10-10-2004, 10:59 AM
Hi Nora!

It sounds like we have some things in common. I'll be 45 this month and I started my family 8 yrs. ago. Not to mention the lovely "S" shaped spine.

Are you contemplating your first surgery? I had my surgery (first and only, I hope) a little over 2 months ago and am very happy that I did it. I'm not quite 100% but feeling great, in general. I could probably talk for hours about the experience (it wasn't ALL good). So glad it's behind me.

Re: skiing. I'm not even going to think about it until next winter. And, I'll consult my surgeon beforehand, too. You are right...it's not something that somebody should take up after having fusions done.

I ski just like a 45 yr. old housewife. Slow and controlled. I take up the width of a slope so I can ski conservatively. I don't like speed.

The falls that I take are few but stupid ones. Like getting off of the ski lift or falling over my own ski while I'm standing in one place. They are also soft falls. Not comparable to the tumbles that you take while going down the slope at a good clip with momentum behind you then falling, and rolling in crazy positions, loosing a ski or two in the process.

My 5 yr. old son began skiing last year and now the three of us ski intermediate slopes together. Nice.

If you ever want somebody to talk to and give you an idea on what to expect when you do have your surgery, I'll be happy to share.

Thanks for your reply,

10-10-2004, 09:32 PM
So glad to hear you're happy about the surgery. Was your quality of life affected a great deal beforehand?

I also always skied pretty conservatively. In 1994, I broke my leg going way too fast over a mogul at the end of a long day. My one moment of glory ended poorly, I guess. Anyway, the first two winters after that I never made it skiing and then kids came. We're planning on trying to take the boys this winter so for now I'll ski and who knows about it in the future.

Regarding surgery, my goal is to get measured again in the next few months and take it from there. Its quite a dilemma as my pain is not that bad yet. I appreciate talking to you and I look forward to hearing about your continued progress.

Denise Preuss
10-11-2004, 10:29 AM
Hi Nora,

My quality of life had changed a little before I had surgery but we knew that these things would only get worse. I chose to have the surgery NOW because I was in the best shape that I would ever be in and recovery would only get harder as I got older.

I am also the type of person who doesn't like having things hanging over my head...looming, so to speak...I prefer to get things "over with".

I decided to get a consult about my back about 2 yrs. ago when I noticed a change in the intensity and character of pain in my lower back when I used the treadmill. Until then, my scoliosis was like a skeleton in the closet. I didn't talk about it and did my best to hide it and pretend that it didn't exist.

My first consults were non-surgical in nature...chiropractors (no help), Alexander Technique (no help), yoga (couldn't do it). I finally saw an orthopedic guy so that he could write me a prescription for Physical Therapy.

He took one look at my xray, which was hideous and hard for me to look at, and said that I needed surgery. I cried.

We began interviewing surgeons and finally chose one. I began working out with a personal trainer to tone up in anticipation of the surgery. An MRI was done of my back. My height was now at 4' 11"---down from 5' 1 1/2" 5 yrs. ago. Also, there was significant degenerative joint disease in my lumbar spine which is not a good thing.

I also, coincidentally, began having shortness of breath with exertion. Pulmonary Studies were normal and it was concluded that my lung expansion was physically impeded by my ribs due to the scoliosis.

Also, the gastric reflux disease that began in my final 2 months of pregnancy got worse. Again, they figured it was due to decreased abdominal space as my spine started to shrink or collapse. It was like my abdominal organs started taking the path of least resistance which was out. I always looked pregnant.

Pain was actually minimal after I began working out. But, there were unavoidable activities in my daily life that I knew would bring on pain that measured 10 in the pain scale. Looking back, I think that I was used to having pain that many people would file for Disability in other circumstances. My pain threshold was high which probably helped in my recovery from the surgery...a little bit.

Anyway, a pre-op MRI of my back was taken (a year after the original) and in that 1 year, the degenarative disc disease in my lumbar spine had worsened.

It seems like the scoliosis was progressing pretty fast and if I didn't have the surgery soon, my quality of life was going to really suffer.

Sorry this was so wordy but I wanted to explain it all so I could answer your question.

What is your life like now?


10-11-2004, 12:29 PM
Just a quick comment on skiing... My son, Braydon, has two vertical adjustable rods in his back to keep his chest expanded and his spine stabilized. There are several kids in our area who have similar rod placements. One girl (age 11 now) has these same rods. She won a gold medal in Downhill Skilling at the Utah Winter Games in her age division. Her ski instructor had noticed a HUGE improvement in her balance after she had her surgery to implant her rods. She had surgery at age 9, then took the following winter off from skiing. This past winter was her first year back, and she managed to win the gold medal her first year back! Very cool for her. She had to re-learn how to fall so it would be less of an impact on her spine. So far, she is doing great! I think there are many scoliosis patients (old and young) who continue doing sports they are trained in - that's the key - don't start a high-risk sport AFTER surgery. I like to share good news whenever I can, and thought this would be a good one to share.

Denise Preuss
10-12-2004, 06:52 AM
Hi Carmell,

That is very good news! Thank you for sharing it!

You brought up a point that I hadn't thought of...falling.

I mean falling correctly.

I think a competetive skiier has enough control of themselves, even while falling, to guide themselves to a safe fall.

I'm not sure I do...although most of my falls are stupid ones with a low impact...falling from a standing or walking position or tumbling when I jump off of the chair lift. I rarely fall while going downhill.

I'm happy that your son has several kids in his circle that have rods like his. It must be alot easier than being the only one in the school to have it.

Thanks for giving me something to think about.


Denise Preuss
01-30-2005, 12:42 PM
Hi Everybody!

We went on our first ski trip since I had surgery on 7/30/04. Just got back yesterday.

I'm happy to say that I actually resisted the strong temptation to put on skis and "do" the easy slopes. I literally felt like I had the little "devil" on one shoulder and the "angel" on the other shoulder arguing back and forth on should I do it or should I not.

The little angel won and the little devil dissapeared in a "poof"...just like on TV.

Instead, I stood at the bottom of the slpes and took video and photos of my son and husband as they came down.

This was fine for this time but I really have to pin my surgeon down on when I can do this again. I missed it tremendously!really


02-05-2005, 11:26 PM
I'm so glad you resited the temtation to ski....I thought about it and decided not to try it..the thought of hurting my spine was just not worth it....but I do other things, like this last vacation I climb a rock wall....how great was that!!!what a physcial challenage it was for me....I gratuated PT and I work out in the gym...I would love to play tennis again, but the twisting motions may be to hurtful to me at the present time..so I'll put that on the back burner ...When they say you need a good year to recover, they weren't kidding...:eek:

02-05-2005, 11:47 PM
Hey Connie,

It's so good to hear that you are doing great!! Where did you go on your cruise? My husband and I were planning a Hawaiian Islands cruise for the beginning of the summer to celebrate our 30th anniversary in August. We are putting that on hold as I will probably be having another surgery the end of May, beginning of June. I will see the doctor in March or April for my one year check up and to also see what we need to do now. He said it won't be a 12 - 15 hour day and the recovery will take several months not a year. Continue to improve and take care of yourself.

02-22-2005, 07:37 PM
I was fused from T3 through L5 in 98. I am 46 yoa and very active. I show horses, hike, lift weights, and bike. And yes, I have skied since my surgery. To my amazement, my balance seemed to be better and hence, I skied better. As for falling, it wasn't the problem, getting up was. Picture this: there I was in those stiff boots and with my stiff back, I suddenly realized that without being able to bend at the waist, I had a problem! So what I did was put my poles to the side and kind of hoisted myself up. Other than that, everything was dandy.

Denise Preuss
02-23-2005, 06:42 AM

Thanks for the good news.

You're right...getting up is tough enough after a fall when you have a "mobile" back. I can only imagine how it would be now.

Now, not to change the subject...I read somewhere (maybe here) that with an immobilized spine, your chances of disrupting your cervical vertabrae (breaking your neck) increases.

Have you heard that?


02-23-2005, 06:58 AM
My doc has always encouraged me to do whatever I want. So I continue to ride. He has never mentioned a word to me about cervical issues although I figured that one out on my own. If I want to continue living my life to the fullest and that includes horses, skiing, etc...I can not let that thought/image enter my mind or else I would definately lose my competetive edge. I look at it this way, yes, my neck is very susceptible but I have just as much chance of breaking it by being in a car accident. I venture to say that there isn't anyone on here that has given up driving or riding in a car because of that possibility. Do I take risks? Probably but what I don't do are things that would really put my chances of injury up there like bungee jumping, attempting a cartwheel and even riding a rollo coaster.