View Full Version : Surgery scheduled...post op set up?

11-01-2010, 02:29 PM
First off, I have been in and out of this forum for several years now...what a life saver (sanity saver?) it has been!! Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to help us with our questions. :D

I have a 66 degree lumbar and 48 degree thoracic curve. I've been very fortunate to be able to stay quite active in my adult life. Skiiing (snow and water), mountain biking, skating, hiking, snowmobiling, etc. I truly believe it has kept me more flexible and strong, enabling me to better stabilize my curves. I was determined in high school not to let it stop me from living my life!!!
However, the last few years HAVE been more of a challenge. Epidural injections have made the difference between working and not working. It doesn't take away all the pain, but sure takes that nasty edge off so I can still function somewhat normally.
I wore a Boston brace in HS for 3 years, and have maintained my curve degrees over the years. But I am now 48, and I have shrunk 3 inches since January... I KNEW something was changing, just by the feeling and nerve pains. Due to my age, and the rapid progression, we have scheduled surgery for January 10th. Oh man, that is hard to actually say it!! One thing to think about doing it someday, another thing ENTIRELY to actually set a date. But I have put off surgery for over 30 years-I feel fortunate to have been able to wait that long.
I will be honest, I'm pretty tough, and have a high pain tolerance (most of us scoliosis people do, I think!), but this does make me nervous. No going back. I'm scared of losing flexibility and the long healing process; of being STIFF 24/7. Scared of not being able to do some of the things I love. Scared about not being able to go back to work. I manage a bakery, and I do heavy lifting, usually 2-3 PALLETS of somewhat heavy freight every day. 9-10 hour days with usually no breaks or lunches. The joys of management!! Hours have been cut to the extent that I am pretty much it, as far as labor. No one to delegate TO! I don't know if I will ever be able to have a full release, which is to be able to consistently lift 50 lbs. And they have NO light duty option. It is all or nothing. I've wondered about ADA and if they could be forced to just help me with freight... I've worked there all my adult life, and don't know anything else. Scary to think of losing your career...
I know everyone is different, but I am wondering how to set up my bedroom for the homecoming. I am a type "A" personality, and never sit still. So I've bought a netbook for staying in touch with this site, and my friends and family on FB and email. I bought a new ipod and loaded it with my entire music library (over 3,000 songs, YAY!), set up the TV and DVD player.
I've been buying up books like crazy. I have a lap top tray. My mother has a walker I can use.
I guess I'm wondering how long, on average, you have to resort to these activities. I can find things to do around the house, but how long before most of you were able to be up at least part of the day? I'm fine with short time spans of activity and resting spells. Just concerned about being laid up all day for a long period of time. I live in the woods quite a ways out of town, so I'm not expecting a lot of company-it's 60 miles round trip to town. My husband is only able to take off 2 weeks, so I have to behave!!! Which is not my strong point. Stubborn, I am....
I tend to rattle on, so I will keep this one short. Thanks to all of you, again!!!

11-01-2010, 04:36 PM
Welcome Jenee` and I hope you continue to get information and support from this forum.

How long will your fusion be?

I can't answer all your questions but what stood out to me was your comment about being STIFF for the rest of your life. Not quite right. Most of us with long fusions can bend easily from the hip, we can dance, play with our children/grandchildren, garden, skate, kayak etc. and to look at us, I bet nobody would guess that our spines are fused. So try not to worry too much about that point. It's amazing what we can get by without!

The requirement in your job for lifting post-fusion might be the stickler though. My surgeon told me not to lift heavy loads ever again, to save the vertebra above my fusion, which take more of the load post-fusion. I know you don't want a change in career, but is there another position in the same company you can do from here on in? One which doesn't involve that heavy lifting?

I do think exercise, fitness and strength does help us avoid surgery for as long as possible, (my thoughts only) but unfortunately for most of us, the scoli catches up with us eventually.

11-01-2010, 06:03 PM
Thanks for the reply! I'm not sure of the exact levels yet. I know we were planning on only the lumbar for many years, but the thoracic has progressed too much to go that route now. So now both upper and lower curves will be done. There will be no fusing to my pelvis, though. Sounds like a lot of mixed opinions on that one...

My company is not very sympathetic to their employees. We are more or less "just a number". It wasn't always that way. We used to be owned locally with only 200 stores, now we have been bought out and belong to the largest grocery store chain in the country. They fire for no apparent reason. Just my own observation, but it seems to be a lot of the 20 year+ employees with no previous history of any problems, write ups, etc. I've been there 22 years and have succeeded in every position I've held, and have a good reputation. But to be honest, I'm half afraid of them finding a reason to do that to me also, so that our insurance won't have to cover this surgery. But I have to apply for a medical leave of absence ahead of time, so we shall see! If I can't go back, I will just find something else. Something I love. Maybe something even better where we are appreciated! My doc doesn't know how I continue to work like I do. She said most people in my situation wouldn't be working anymore, at least not at this level. Pure stubborness, strong work ethic and loyalty to my crew, and high pain tolerance. But I am getting worn out from the strain and stress of it all.
Yes, I do believe my activities have kept me in much better shape than being sedentary. I have no excess weight to aggravate it, and strong core muscles. But I know it is time to do something because it is starting to affect my quality of life. I find myself not feeling like doing anything due to the pain. Not my usual self!! But I still consider myself to be fortunate indeed. After all, it can always be worse. I will continue to believe my cup is half FULL and not half empty!!
Thanks again.

11-01-2010, 06:27 PM
Jenee your just like me i'm also pretty queit my self i also had a spinal surgery for scoliois this year too i'm now 7 months postop i'm soon going to be 8 months postop next wensday
i also wore a boston brace for 13 months
i had a was postop appt from a few weeks due of one compcam, on at 3 months, 6 months i don't have my mom with me at that one so my gradman and aunt took me she also has rods in her back due to a spinal cord injury that happend on her best friend birthday in 1984:eek:
and then my cousin also has rod in his back too beacuse off a spinal cord injury in iraq i really what our troops out of there for 2 reason that the main reason the orther reason is because if you no jason j buzzerd he was at the same army base as my cousin at the time just making me talk about this just want to cry because i feel really bad for my cousin because he now him
my cousin has his spinal fusion this year to 1 mouth and 3 days after me

11-01-2010, 09:45 PM
Welcome Jenee

You are the second scoli to show up here from Bend! Its Bend week!

And a skier at that........

Just wondering if I could get Mt Bachelor reports in trade for Tahoe ski reports?

You know that you CAN ski with a full fusion......Here is my pic.

11-01-2010, 10:08 PM

Welcome- I have a friend who knows you, I believe. Sent you a PM....

11-01-2010, 11:53 PM
Hey Ed-

I love your ski pic! Don't tell my husband this, but I had ONE question about post op activities for my Dr.-can I ski again? I was so surprised when she said I could after full recovery. Maybe not cornice jumping again, but who knows??? I love to ski. I've been down there at Tahoe lots. My grandparents had a cabin at Strawberry Lodge and I spent a lot of time down there growing up. I also raced snowmobiles down there in the pro circuit. Did the Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Hillclimb Association race at Kirkwood. My friend Cookie and I were the only women. Adrenaline junkie-story of my life...The pic is in Heavenly or Squaw, right? I really liked Kirkwood. It would be fun to meet up one day and ski together.

I love your posts!! You sure stand out, it's nice to have someone with a sense of humor about all this and make us smile. I find myself looking for your posts... Tho one started about the benefits of fusion really helped me feel better about all this. I've been so calm leading up to this. Even the doc commented on how well I've taken it. But ever since I actually scheduled a DATE last week, I've been in a slight panic mode inside. Thanks for the pics of twisting, skiing, and the reassuring words of success stories. I am in your debt!!

Amy- I mailed you back a response. How cool is this?

Thanks again to everyone. It is so awesome to have this site to support each other.

11-02-2010, 06:39 PM

Iíve had my wings clipped, so no more jumping. My surgeon warned about a rotational cracking of the fusion from a crash, and I also need to keep the velocity down a tad. No more rock n roll anymore. I stay off the cornices now. Skiing is fine, itís the crashes that are scary. Iíve had a few slow face plants in the powder already, they are a little scary when they happen at first. It took me 2 years for my full recovery and skiing is a little scary in the beginning after fusion. It took me awhile to get used to the G forces at 30mph.

I remember the snowmobile hill climbs at Kirkwood years ago... I donít know if they still do them, I will have to investigate that for you.

I like Kirkwood, but Iím located north of Reno and the wood is too long of a drive. The pic is from Donner ski ranch, that is Donner lake in the background.

The best way to deal with scoliosis is with a sense of humor.... I was a candidate for a Luque in 74, and waited due to skiing. I think I made the right choice in doing it that way, but in waiting I know that my recovery and surgery was a bit tougher.

Try not to panic too much, its not worth the worry.

Who will do your surgery and what levels? Posterior only?

11-02-2010, 06:55 PM
Hi Jenee--welcome to the forum. I tend to be sort of type A myself, but this was one time in my life when I kind of released control and let my body lead the way. The first week or two I was home, the winter Olympics were on so I had lots of entertainment. (My skiing experience is strictly spectator!) I would do lots of short walks around the house. I was not bed-ridden at all at home and not much in the hospital either. In fact, I was much more comfortable when I was up during the day than when I had to lie down at night. I started going out for short trips in the car (as a passenger) by the end of my 2nd week at home. You just move very slowly and rest whenever you need to. (which is kind of a nice change for those in the constant "get-r-done" mentality!) At 9 months post-op, I am pretty much living normal life. However, I think you will have lifting restrictions for quite a while if not permanently. I am still very careful about lifting and avoiding falls, but other than that, I'm good to go. Feel free to ask about anything on this forum. Sounds like you're going into this with a really positive attitude, and I think that has a major influence on recovery. Best wishes to you!

11-02-2010, 09:34 PM
Hi Jenee- everyone heals differently but I don't think you have to worry about being tied to your bedroom very long. I was in St louis 2 weeks; a week in the hospital and then a week in a hotel (since I was from out of state). Even while in the hotel I would get up and dressed every day and would eat dinner with my husband in a restaurant. When I got home, I would get up, shower and put on some makeup every day. I would alternate between walking around, sitting and laying down on the couch. Usually an afternoon nap on the couch. But I never stayed in bed all day once I left the hospital. Usually some of my friends would come over once or twice a week and take me out for lunch. Getting out really helped me recover. Since you are so active I would guess that you will do well. I used to snow ski before all of this but I'm guessing I may not want to risk it. I know Ed skis, but I am only a green/easy blue skier anyway. Plus I had surgery on my left knee in my early 20's and it swells up every time I ski, even with a brace, so I'm thinking that's one sport that may have to go. But you will probably be able to ski after a year. I'm just hoping to play golf after a year. Good luck and don't hesitate to ask questions! This forum is very helpful.

11-03-2010, 01:00 AM
Wow. I am just amazed at how well so many of you have done. This sounds so much better than I pictured in my head. My mother has had 4 or 5 back surgeries now, and she has never done very well. (No worries- she had a different surgeon for most of them. My Dr. has done the last two surgeries to fix what was done in the past, and it has helped her a lot.) She has been bedridden for months, sometimes. Maybe that is where my worries come from. She has hobbled around for so many years and can't go anywhere or do much of anything. Her back looks like someone was playing "pick up sticks" and left everything and went outside to play.... So she is the only person I know who has had a back fusion. I guess I assumed I would be like her, but maybe a little better due to the age difference. My curves are much larger, but her degeneration, slippage, stenosis, arthritis, etc is far worse. I am getting more and more confident and RELIEVED, thanks to all of you! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!

Ed, Donner looks really nice. Never been there. I actually like the smaller ski areas that have fewer skiers that really love to ski, and not so many "tourists". I know I will not ski like before. I had one position most of the time-full tuck!!! I will slow it down, if I must. I will just have to ski with the hubby-he is a new skiier, and he will keep me in line... LOL I am definitely a speed demon. I still ski on old Saloman Equipes-201's. They look like giants compared to all those new parabolics. You should hear the the snickers and see the looks I get from those young whipper snappers..... What do you ski on, Ed? Has the new ones been any different or better for you post-surgery? I feel so darn secure in my old sticks... Can go anywhere and do most anything. I demoed a set of new, top of the line, all mountain skis last year, and just didn't like the stability. Or lack of... I know they are supposed to be better for floatation, but I have never really taken to powder. I like steeps and corduroy!!! I don't snowmobile anymore. Had to sell them a few years back due to a promotion/move. I miss them, but it is probably better that I don't have them anymore. I could get in some serious trouble, there! I was never one to hold up the guys, and wouldn't want to have to start now...
My fusion is posterior, but I'm not sure of the exact levels. I have a preop appt Jan. 5, and will find out then.

Late night, gotta get up early for work. Thanks for listening to my ramblings, everyone!

11-03-2010, 09:02 AM
Amy- I mailed you back a response. How cool is this?

Thanks again to everyone. It is so awesome to have this site to support each other.

hey Jenee-

I'm assuming you PM'd...Just letting you know that I didn't receive anything. No worries, I'm not going anywhere for awhile.:) Did get the FB email.

Enjoying your energy...one of the joys of this whole deal is getting to know others that we might never have. It's pretty sweet.

More later, I'm sure...

11-03-2010, 02:28 PM

Yes, many of us have done well. Some have not. People need to be aware of complications.... Sorry, I hate to drop the bomb, but its important to know about these things if you are going to have a ďseriousĒ surgery. I went in knowing this, and was ready for anything, including quitting skiing. 2 weeks before my surgeries, I broke my shoulder in a devastating crash. I needed to hit the hill hard since it might have been the end of my skiing.

Skis? Ok, Back in 2000, I was skiing with Wayne Wong,(Elvis) heís a local, and he couldnít believe how well I skied on such garbage! LOL My old 195cm Rossi FPís didnít cut the mustard! In the ski industry, Wayne invented rock n roll. I emulated his style from the early 70ís. Remember the 1972 pepsi commercial? He is the one at the end with the white glasses. All the pros, bow down and repeat ďIím not worthyĒ


Wayne was exited about competition carving competitions in Europe and wanted me involved. I ended up buying a pair of Atomic 9-16ís, and they are short slalom cut skis and turn on a dime. Loads of fun, but back wreckers. Ice skates are also a challenge in 3 feet of powder, and I chase pow. Next in 2001, I wanted something a little mellower and wider for pow, bought a pair of Atomic 11-22ís. Very nice.
But last year after conquering my G force issues being fused, and yes that was a battle I had to deal with on my own,(recovery for fully fused skiers) I needed something for nasty crud windblown snowpack, I chose a new pair of Rossi S-3ís with the fancy reverse tip sidecut, flat camber, and twin tip. Again, very nice, and parky, not that I do parks anymore, but had no choice. I bought the longest available length. 189cm? I believe. You lose running length with the rear tip, which I wasnít thrilled about. All the skis listed above are parabolic, yes I like the concept, dangerous to flatten out, you HAVE to ride them on edge all the time. They are not for lazy skiers.

After my surgeries, I skied the first time at 15 months post at Park City. Putting green skiing, blue groomers. It took another season till I was feeling good on skis, all the skiing muscles and ligaments needed to built back up again. Keep your old gear for now, you know it doesnít matter all that much.

I can keep up with ďmostĒ 19 yr olds if I want, but now I have to exercise discipline and ski like a normal person. Tucking is out of the question.The amount of abuse I put my spine through in the past years, would make any scoli surgeon shutter. The skiers on the free ski circuit now are insane. Some like Julian Carr out of Salt Lake, really need to be put in a strait jacket. Check out this pic, you will agree. Some birds cannot be caged.

11-04-2010, 08:54 AM
Welcome to the forum. I will have my surgery 5 days before you are scheduled. We sound so much alike. I am also a type A personality and over schedule myself everyday. I make a list every day and go nonstop. I don't have much pain, but know that I am shrinking and have no waistline. I am an avid golfer and play every day that weather permits and I'm not working. I hate to think about not playing for a year and then wonder just how I'll be able to play at the same level I do now, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. I'm on vacation now in Gulf Shores with my husband for a final golf fling before surgery. You are way more prepared than I am. As soon as I get home, I'm buying an Ipod and loading up good music and getting things in order. You've inspired me.

11-04-2010, 12:03 PM
Hi Ed,

Just got a chance to see your photo of the rocky conditions! I'm laughing out loud.

Please do be careful there!



11-04-2010, 08:17 PM

Wow. It is nice to pay it forward and inspire someone else instead of just being inspired! I hope to help support others contemplating surgery when my day comes and I can share my own experience. Another volunteer activity that will be dear to my heart!

We are so similar-here's to last flings!!! My husband just took me to Disneyland and California Adventure a few weeks ago so that I could ride all the amusement park rides I wanted before I have this surgery. He spoils me! We will have to stay in touch, especially since we will be in exactly the same situation. Hang in there-we will persevere and conquer!!!!!

11-04-2010, 09:03 PM
Well, I didn't even wait until I got home from vacation to buy the Ipod. I bought one this afternoon and will try to start downloading some music. I know it's hard to think about giving up some activities during the recuperation period, but I have to think that in the longrun, it's for a better future. Besides golf, I bike, play tennis, go to lots of classes at the Y. When I'm active, my back doesn't hurt at all, however, standing for a long time is uncomfortable. I read all of your activities. Wow! I'm sure that you are in excellent condition for the surgery. We'll definitely have to keep in touch prior to and after surgery.

11-05-2010, 06:43 PM
Golfnut.....you ARE a nut!!!
I have been a life long fan of music. I have it on almost 24/7. It ranges from instrumental and classical to hard rock to new age. And most of everything in between. I am an ipod junkie. I wasn't sure what the big deal was several years ago when they came out. I now own three....
I am still active, but not nearly as much as I was a couple years ago. Been a rough couple years. And I work so many hours and do quite a bit of volunteering in the community. Even that has had to take a back burner due to the unpredictability of my back. I do a lot of work with a place called Healing Reins that works with kids and adults with physical, mental or social challenges. I had to opt out the last couple sessions because I cannot jog along side the horses anymore... Really aggravating. I am hoping I can return to it someday. I also did a lot of stage managing for out local theatre-but it is 20-30 hours a week committment on top of my 45-50 hour job. I think the cutting back of things I love has had a lot to do with me being mentally ready for surgery. I've reached the point that my quality of life is suffering. I figure it is a win-win situation. If I can return to work-great! If not, I will be able to find lots of volunteer possibilities to fill my hours. Hang in there, we are almost there!!!!

11-05-2010, 08:58 PM
I forgot to mention my other big love . . . tap dancing. My tap class dances for nursing homes, variety shows, schools, churches, etc. On Nov. 12, we're dancing at a YMCA dinner and auction. It's such good exercise and I love it, but not sure about the high impact of a lot of our steps. If Dr. Lenke thinks I can go back to it eventually, I plan to sit and watch so that I can memorize the steps to new routines during the year that I'm out.
I can't believe all that you do. I volunteered with our local humane society, but walking the big dogs was just too difficult when they jerked me around. I am going to try to volunteer at school when I am able following surgery. It will help me focus on something besides myself.
I laughed at your final fling. I appreciate my husband taking time off of work to take me on a vacation. We're having a great time and will start driving north on Tues. My pre-op is Nov. 17th, so the reality of the surgery will hit!!!!
It will be the longest time I've spent in a hospital, other than staying with my dad and husband.
Oh, about the Ipod. . . I brought it back to our place and tried it out. My brother told me I should have bought the Ipod touch so that I could get my emails. They store wouldn't take it back since it had been opened, so now I could kick myself that I didn't buy the touch in the first place.
Keep in touch.