View Full Version : New to the board

11-28-2012, 12:18 PM
Greetings! I sure do appreciate all the wonderful posts on this board. I have tried to register numerous times since September but kept getting error messages. Finally emailed the Scoliosis Foundation and they activated my account.

I was diagnosed with Scoliosis when I was 15 in 1974 but was told I was too old for surgery. I did exercises for a couple months and then that was the end of treatment.
Some years later I married and bore six children over the next 15 years with no problems from my scoliosis, aside from needing to wear a good support belt with my fourth and fifth pregnancies.

Fast forward to 2005 when I became sole caregiver of my father-in-law who had Alzheimer's Disease. The three years he lived in our home required a lot of bending and lifting for me and that really damaged my spine. I had months of physical therapy on three different occasions over the next 6 years and kept my core strong. Even so, that did not prevent further injury. My curves were 43 and 48 degrees.

This past July, at age 53, I injured my spine while doing household chores. I lost half an inch in height that day. The pain was bad enough that I looked up a surgeon online and found Dr Hey in Raleigh, NC, whose office is just 20 minutes from where I live. I was so thankful for that! The diagnosis was Degenerative Scoliosis, Idiopathic Scoliosis, Spondylolisthesis, lumbar and lumbar spinal stenosis.
You can see part of my MRI from that appointment on my blog: http://allsparkledup.com/2012/09/27/scoliosis-and-keeping-it-real/scoliosismri/

I had surgery on October 2nd. I had never had a surgery before so I had no idea what to expect. Dr Hey did a fantastic job on my spine. I'm so thankful that I just happen to live in the right place at the right time. And my husband has good insurance this year so I feel God is watching out for me.

The procedure was:
Thoracic tree to iliac wing instrumentation and fusion using Pioneer variable angel titanium pedicle screws with posterior fusion using local bone graft mixed with Pioneer NanOss and FiberWire technique at T3. L4 laminectomy with foraminotomy. Triple-rod technique from S1 to L3 for lower spinal reinforcement using truss construction.

It wasn't as bad as I thought but the recovery has been quite hard. I naively thought I would be up and about in just 3 weeks. I am now 8 weeks post-op. My husband and sons have noted steady improvement but I haven't felt like I was getting better until just the past two weeks.

For pain, I was on Oxycodone for about five weeks and transitioned to Hydrocodone. After a bout of vertigo, I panicked and quit taking it cold-turkey. I was down to 3 or 4 pills a day so figured I wouldn't have any withdrawal effects. Not so. It was over the extended Thanksgiving holiday and I was quite miserable. I barely slept more than 4 hours per day for almost a week. Finally called Dr Hey's office and now I'm on Tramadol. I'm trying to keep the dose low because I don't want to endure another grueling withdrawal so I'm taking only about 3 or 4 half-pills a day. I mentioned that I hoped I wasn't whiny about my pain issue but was told I am way ahead of the game, especially since my surgery was "very, very extensive", from my neck all the way to my pelvis.

I've been spending many hours reading posts on this forum, finding answers to my questions as I recover. Thank you to all the people here who are so generous with their knowledge and experience! You have been truly my biggest support group the past two months and you didn't even know it. Thank you from my heart!


11-28-2012, 12:20 PM
I posted my post-op xray on my blog.

11-28-2012, 01:50 PM
Welcome to the forum JuliaAnn! My name is Jen and I had horrible problems trying to register also. I ended up emailing Gardenia on her regular email and she was kind enough, as well as others here, to help resolve the problem. I had done alot of research on dr hey also. You were so lucky to have him as your surgeon! My insurance co won't pay for me to have my upcoming surgery (jan 3) out of state ( I live in RI) but I did find 2 wonderful spine/scoli surgeons here @ home. Thank you for sharing your blog and recovery. Stories like this reaffirm my decision and make me less anxious. God bless and again, welcome! I hope you feel better with each day.

11-28-2012, 03:11 PM
Welcome Julia, I too had problems registering on this forum, but it was worth the wait. I can sympathise with you over the withdrawals. I had them as well (ditto the dizziness) and it was a miserable time in my life. I kept thinking, if this is what it's like to be an addict, forever going through these withdrawals, why wouldn't you go through rehab and stay off them? Anyway, we all survive the withdrawals and only really remember them when someone else mentions them!

You sound like your recovery is on track. You certainly had a huge surgery. It's still early days at 8 weeks, but speaking for myself, I improved dramatically from 3-6 months. I *felt* 100% at 6 months though improvements (less dramatic) continued up to 2 years.

Ask as many questions as come into your head, there's almost always someone who can give you some advice from their own experience.

11-28-2012, 08:39 PM
This past July, at age 53, I injured my spine while doing household chores.

Judging by your MRI, your household chores look like hard work! (smiley face) That pain, what was THAT like? It must have been like lightning....wow!

Anyway, welcome to the forum....glad to have you here.

I remember back to when I was around 2 months post.... It sure is nice to be past the hardest part. You did it! Congratulations!

One day at a time now.....you have a long way to go, but it gets better and better every day.


loves to skate
11-30-2012, 07:27 PM
I started to post a welcoming message to you yesterday and poof - my computer crashed again. I shall try again.

Welcome Julia. You must have been is such pain. Childbirth is nothing in comparison. I guess we all know what a 10 on the pain scale is like. How fortunate that you live so close to such a wonderful scoliosis surgeon. We moved down here two and 1/2 years ago and since I have ongoing pain, I decided I should consult with Dr. Hey. He really is a special Doctor.
It is not uncommon to experience vertigo after a long surgery and is not necessarily caused by the drugs. The crystals in the inner ear can be to blame. I can't imaging going off oxy cold turkey. Gives me the shivers. I hope your recovery is uneventful from here on in. This really is a great forum. I wish I would have found this forum before I had my surgery. Take good care of yourself.

12-03-2012, 09:55 AM
Thank you all for the warm welcome! It's so nice to read all the posts here. You all are so encouraging!

The past week (week 8 post op) I found out that the Tramadol side effects were intolerable. My pulse was pounding out at least 110 beats a minute or higher. The first day I took one Tramadol pill, that took away ALL surgery pain. Wow, it felt fantastic to have the pain gone! That was the first time since the Morphine that I was pain free. But my blood pressure kept climbing on the Tramadol so the next couple days I tried just a half tablet (25 mg) every 12 hours. Even that sent my bp up and pulse racing. So today is Day 5 off all pain meds. I took one Tylenol last night just to help me fall asleep and yesterday I took some Alka Seltzer Flu to help combat the sneezing and aching from withdrawal. That helped a bit.

Today I feel pretty good and think the pain is manageable if I lay down a couple times a day so the pain doesn't get out of hand. I'm hoping I'm past the worst of the leg and arm bone pain from withdrawal. Day 3 my legs and arms hurt worse than my back surgery. Go figure.

This week I'm hoping to do more walking. I've walked very little since surgery because my "fixated hips" hurt too bad with the walking. I did try to walk a little every day since surgery though, knowing how beneficial it was. I have Fibromyalgia so the more I move the better I feel. It's been quite frustrating to have to hold so still for my bones to heal because that just exacerbates the muscle burning and aching from the fibro. I'll be thrilled when I can get back up to moving around all day long.

Before my surgery I was very active. I'm not expecting to be that active immediately but hopefully by January I'll be much more mobile and hopefully my bolted right hip won't burn so much. I'm glad you all post your recovery and how you feel at various weeks in the recovery. That information has been invaluable to me. Thank you.

12-03-2012, 07:48 PM
Welcome to the forum, Julia. I looked at your post-op x-ray and you certainly look straight! I know it's been rough, but hopefully, you'll feel a tiny bit better each day and feel like walking more and more.

12-05-2012, 04:47 PM
It has been wonderful being able to sit without the dreadful burning pain from my collapsing scoliosis. I am thrilled with how this surgery is healing!

The biggest pain I have now is in my neck above the fused area. Have any of you had this? I'm sure it's because my neck is not used to the new straightness of my spine. It helps if I lay down occasionally to take the weight of my head off my neck. Do any of you know of exercises that could strengthen the neck? I'm no longer on any prescription meds and take Tylenol once or twice a day. My neck hurts worse than any other part of my back.

12-05-2012, 07:39 PM
It is wonderful.....I was around 4 months when I was sitting here and realized that I had zero pain. It was so strange, I forgot what that was like....Of course it didnít last since recovery has its ups and downs. As you heal, hopefully you have more better days than bad days.

The problem with successful scoliosis surgery at our age is you find out that everything else is shot.....(smiley face)

Use soft down pillows, they are easily formed. You can also use a towel, roll it up to a 2.5 inch roll and place behind in the small of your neck when sleeping on your back.

There are cheapo cervical traction units, and inflatable neck collars available. Ask Dr Hey about this, see what he says.

Hang in there

12-05-2012, 10:18 PM
Thanks, Ed! I'll call Dr Hey's office tomorrow. Tonight I used a TENS unit on my neck for a while. I've had the unit for years, perhaps 8? I did a search online and read that other post-op folks use it safely. When I used to use it on my back, I would use it for about 4 days in a row, for probably six hours or so. And I would turn it up until the electricity was quite strong but not to the point of causing muscle spasms. That would often stop the pain for over a month, sometimes four months or so, much to my great relief. The problem in my neck seems muscular in nature so I'm hoping massage and the TENS unit works until my neck is strong enough for my new shape.

A cervical collar sounds really good right now. And I laughed out loud at your remark that people our age are finding out that the rest of us is shot after successful surgery. I would have had surgery 15 years ago if I had found a surgeon that didn't say "You're too old." I'd love to go back to those surgeons and say "See me now. No, I'm NOT too old."