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BrianB
10-17-2006, 02:49 PM
Well, I met with Dr. Tortolani and had my bending x-rays today. Good news is that he feels that the lower curve is reactionary to the top and thinks I am a good candidate for selective fusion. He's looking at T3 - L1, but said it may be T12 or L2 depending on how my spine reacts in surgery. He also said he'd have me wear a brace for the first 6 weeks just to be cautious and to remind me and others that I need to take it easy. From hearing what he had to say, it seems like a better option to do it now with a quicker recovery than to wait until later when I would need a full spinal fusion with longer recovery. I've been working out a ton lately and eating very well, and am going to increase the amount I work out right up until surgery. I'm determined to be one of his quickest recoveries ever! (I want to be the one that he mentions to other patients when they ask how fast you can recover.) I'm going to see Dr. Kebaish (Dorigirl's surgeon) for a second opinion, but feel pretty comfortable with this right now. I guess that's a good sign? I'd love to hear from those of you that have had a similar fusion.

monie
10-17-2006, 03:24 PM
Hey there, well congratulations on getting your X-Rays done! :-) I remember I hurt pretty bad after I got mine done because my doctor kept asking me to "bend a little more"...lol. Yes, I think you've got the right idea with the 'eating healthy and working out' bit. I wish I'd had that much sense before I had my surgery. I don't know for a fact, but I'm willing to bet that it'd have made my recovery so much easier and quicker! Good luck with everything!

JamieAnn
10-17-2006, 04:12 PM
I love the positivity! That's the spirit! Best of luck :)

dawney
10-17-2006, 06:46 PM
My xrays done not by orthos specialist was terrible. They had to have 5 people in there at one point. They kept having to redo them and as you know it was very uncomfortable.

Suzy
10-17-2006, 08:34 PM
Hi Brian,

My fusion was T10 to L4. What I believe made me bounce back quick was the fact that I got in the best shape I possibly could before my surgery. Mind you I was a gym rat for 13 years prior but, I needed to specifically prepare for this surgery. I went to a P.T. before my surgery to find any weak spots I might have been missing. He sure found a few! I was also able to talk to him about body mechanics and what to expect post-op due to the fact he had worked with many scoli pts. You have the right idea. Weren't you glad your bending x-rays showed reaction? I remember telling the tech "I can bend farther!" I wanted my Dr. to get the best info! I told my Dr. I wanted to be his scoliosis poster child. Keep up your positive attitude and the hard work and you too can impress your Dr.

lelc2002@yahoo
10-18-2006, 07:07 AM
Brian-it's great that you are preparing ahead & staying in good physical condition.. although I did not work out at a gym, I did walk and stayed very active pre-surgery. I also kept on a high fiber/protein diet....I feel all of this helped me bounce back as fast as I did...
my bending x-rays were'nt too good at all, so my surgeon had quite a job to get my lower curve reduced! I was exhausted after those x-rays!
good luck w/ your surgery & by the way, does your surgeon feel the other curve will correct itself over time??? just wondering since it's a question that's been on my mind recently??? thks, Ly

BrianB
10-18-2006, 09:49 AM
My surgeon seems to think that my bottom curve will correct itself when the top curve is fused, mainly because of the bending x-rays. He also took an x-ray of me lying down. That alone reduced my curves by almost half. My top was around 37 and my bottom was about 18. That was originally why he thought I was still very flexible. The reason he is unsure about how many to fuse is because there is a smaller space between L1 and L2 and he's not sure if there will be enough cushion (or something like that) - he'll make that decision during surgery. Right now, though, we're hoping that it's a one time deal - get it done now, and forget about it. I like the sound of that.

Fortunately, my bending x-rays were a piece of cake. Since I'm not in any pain right now, I simply went in there, did what they asked, and was out in about 5 minutes. Guess I'm lucky in that regard. My doctor met with me immediately afterward, took measurements, and spent about an hour+ with me. He's awesome.

Suzy - I'm curious what spots you specifically focused on before surgery. My doctor is telling me to really stretch out my hamstrings and that it is a big part of PT afterward - helps reduce back spasms, etc. I'm glad, because that is the first place I stretch after every workout. Obviously, I work on my back a lot among other things, but I'm curious if you found it helpful to focus on any other particular muscle groups. And - how fast were you able to bounce back?

What a fantastic group of people here...

bbest
10-18-2006, 12:33 PM
Brian,

For what it's worth definitely focus on strengthening your legs. You will be relying on them more than before because you won't be able to bend. You are on the right track. It is so important to be in good physical condition before going into a surgery of this magnitude. Like Lynne pointed out, it really helped her bounce back as quickly as she did.

Suzy
10-18-2006, 02:01 PM
Hey Brian,

Hamstrings for sure! This was stressed as a must. Also, your core muscles. Your core muscles will work in different ways post-op. Some have been pulled in one direction for awhile due to the scoliosis. I find in P.T. that my biggest hurdle is right where the biggest part of my curve was. Those muscles are getting a totally new work out. If you have your hamstrings and core muscles in tip top shape before your surgery you will not believe how fast you will bounce back. Muscle has incredible memory. I still had good muscle tone at 4 months post-op, my P.T. was very surprised.

As to how fast I bounced back......... not sure if you mean workout wise? I wasn't allowed to do anything till 4 months then I started P.T. I felt like I was getting a bit stronger after each session. As to bouncing back into life. I was out and about a bit at 3 weeks post-op and driving at 4 weeks. I quit pain meds at 5 months. I had been taking 1/2 a Norco 10/325 before P.T. as I worked so hard then paid the piper later. Hope that answers your questions.

BrianB
10-18-2006, 02:36 PM
Hi Suzy,

Yes - that helps a lot. I was more concerned with the whole "bouncing back into life" thing, but of course, will want to get back to the gym as soon as I am allowed. I'm thinking about some aquatic programs post-op when I am allowed to help ease into things, but I have a ways to go before that. I do a lot of conducting, so it worries me as to how long it will be before I can stand in front of a group and waive my arms around for extended periods of time. My doc says probably 4-6 months before I can do it for a stretch, but if all goes well, I can start working on it as soon as 3+ weeks...

Your recovery sounds incredible - I would love to be out and about at 3 weeks post-op. It is a wonderful goal and I will be working out hard to achieve it. I may even meet with a personal trainer now and then to really strengthen my core. At 3 weeks when you started venturing out, were you still in a good deal of pain?

I'll tell you this - you are inspiring me and I'm hoping to join you in the "poster patient" recovery status!

sweetness514
10-18-2006, 04:58 PM
Hi Brian,

you have the right idea, to work out and especially eat well, and if you give your blood take iron pills before and after for a while, eating well and taking vitamins helped me so much this last time. Vitamin C helps with healing tissues, and it gives energy. Plus it helps assimilate iron.

I know that also not working out your back might help b/c the muscles will be cut and it might hurt more if they're muscular, from what I read. Building stamina helps a lot too, and improving lung capacity.

I know you want to bounce back really quick but keep in mind to not discourage yourself along the way to recovery with your new back. Take care of yourself, in every way(now is a good time). Also, don't bend for at least six months. I did after three months and even though my doctor told me it was all right, I had a non union and even if I don't know if that was one of the factors it happened, it's best to be safe. Walking a lot helps with the fusion, it's the best exercise.

Good luck and I hope he fuses the least vertebreas b/c that certainly is a factor in certain faster recoveries, from what I read.

BrianB
10-19-2006, 09:15 AM
Hi Brian,

I know that also not working out your back might help b/c the muscles will be cut and it might hurt more if they're muscular, from what I read. Building stamina helps a lot too, and improving lung capacity.



I'll have to look into this. My doctor didn't mention anything about it when we were discussing my working out, etc. Is it possible that it may hurt more because of the extra muscle, but also, in turn, would heal faster because of the extra muscle?

abhbarry
10-19-2006, 01:01 PM
I'm glad to see this post! I am currently in physical therapy to strengthen my legs and core before surgery and my PT actually said she saw a dramatic improvement in my leg strength yesterday. I feel like the exercise also makes me proactive - I would regret not doing everything I could to help my recovery.

I'm worried about the weight loss though. I'm fairly little to begin with and don't have a whole lot to lose - how do you gain weight for surgery while exercising a lot more? I'm more than happy to eat a lot of ice cream, but I'm not sure if that is the healthiest thing to do! :)

Best,
Anya

bsprings
10-19-2006, 01:17 PM
Anya- Do you mind sharing the exercises that your pt is having you do? I am having surgery in December and am walking/running but would like to know what specific exercises would be best to do. Thanks!
Cathie

lelc2002@yahoo
10-19-2006, 03:02 PM
anya--I did lose quite a bit of weight after surgery..I did gain before it though!! I ate lots of steaks before blood donations, baked a lot so I had my sugar stuff ! But basically, I made sure I had 3 good meals a day high in protein/fiber...I really do think it helped me.....a couple of Manhattans the weekend before surgery aided me greatly too!!!
I estimate I lost about 25 pounds..I don't have a scale so I'm estimating....Ly

sweetness514
10-19-2006, 04:51 PM
I'll have to look into this. My doctor didn't mention anything about it when we were discussing my working out, etc. Is it possible that it may hurt more because of the extra muscle, but also, in turn, would heal faster because of the extra muscle?

I seriously don't know and have wondered about the same thing. Maybe some who do know can tell you and of course ask your surgeon. I'm curious to know what the answer is. I read muscles don't help in David Wolpert's scoliosis surgery book. I know building muscles help after surgery, like swimming for example.

abhbarry
10-19-2006, 06:53 PM
Hi bsprings and others,

As far as exercises go, I'll try to outline a few: I've done yoga stretches every morning for as long as I can remember. There is a yoga DVD (and book) specifically for scoliosis patients by Elise Browning Miller. I believe you can order it through the NSF website. There are some good exercises on there, but here's what I do (I hope I can explain it in words):
I do general stretches and twists of the back (obviously not for post-op patients) like "cat-cow" and the "sun salute."

I have one of those exercise balls and I do a couple of exercises on that: I sit on it and lift one leg at a time, working on balance and core strength, I lay across it and lift opposite arms and legs, I put it between my back and the wall and do leg bends (hope that is clear??), I do leg lifts lying down on the floor (without the ball), the "bridge pose" where you are on your back and raise your hips up (it helps to put your legs on the exercise ball too to work on balance).

At the gym I use the eliptical (sp?) machine, and different weight machines for leg strength. Two are the weights that work either your outer thighs or your inner thighs (where you push your legs apart or bring them together). Sorry, I'm not very good at explaining these.

Finally, I work on my leg strength by doing kicking in the pool and treading water.

Sorry that was long, but maybe something was helpful??? Maybe other people can add exercises that have helped them too . . .
Best,
Anya

bsprings
10-19-2006, 08:34 PM
Thanks Anya! That really helps!
Cathie

Suzy
10-19-2006, 11:25 PM
Hello all,

Regarding the question of building back muscle prior to having surgery and the Dr. cutting through it I actually discussed this with my Dr. It was NOT a concern of his at all. He thought it great I was so motivated to get in great shape. We joked that if I hurt my back in the gym he would fix it in surgery!

Brian, I laughed at the memory of my first time in my pool post-op when you mentioned aquatic programs. I felt so great being weightless! Thought I would try to float just for the fun of it and sunk like a rock! I have always taught my family and friends how to float and I couldn't! Now the rods and screws don't weigh that much so I figured it had to be the fact I lost so much weight. I had no buoyancy left! I also have to mention the fact that when I got out of the weightlessness of the pool I felt so heavy and could feel the pressure on my back again. I wanted to live in the pool to avoid that feeling. Inspiration available whenever you want.

Anya, Good exercises. The leg bends and bridge are great ones. Don't forget your obliques. (on each side of stomach) Try putting the ball against your stomach while laying on your side with knees bent up to the ball. Hands together pushing down on the ball (elbows slightly bent) and tensing/releasing your sides. You can do it with legs bent (on your back) to work stomach muscles too. Push it to the top of your knees and do the same and it works different muscles. Hey, we should put together a list of pre and post-op exercises!

lelc2002@yahoo
10-20-2006, 06:48 AM
Suzy--meant to ask you: you seem to be still doing P.T. at this point....does insurance still pick it up for you?? I think I only can go until end of October(I started in Sept.) but my P.T. people said I can use their facility for only $40 a mth which I might do at least for Nov,maybe Dec.....Ly

suzyjay
10-20-2006, 07:47 AM
I am having surgery in January and I asked my surgeon if working out my back muscles with exercises or weights can make my back muscles too tight or build them up too much that it would make it difficult for him to cut through the muscles in surgery. He said No - he thought it was great that I worked out and said I should continue.

Sue

BrianB
10-20-2006, 08:12 AM
This is great news - it seems like quite a few doctors seem to think it's okay to work out your back muscles. I'm also going to ask a PT friend of mine and see what she thinks. I'll let you all know. I do know that, among other things, doing pull-ups has completely relieved what little discomfort I have ever felt in my back, so I'm not giving it up! And for those of you looking for ways to increase protein and fiber in your diet (since that seems to be a common theme), I highly recommend Kashi products, especially their GoLean Crunch cereal, energy bars, waffles, and other products. Taste great, all natural, and have lots of protein and fiber. (No, I do not work for them!)

BrianB
10-20-2006, 10:57 PM
Okay - so this is to lighten things up a bit, but I have to share. I'm sure we've all been through similar experiences. Most people I talk to about this process wish me all the best, listen to everything, and then say that it seems like I am making the best decision. WELL - I'm on a trip meeting with some colleagues and, of course, this one guy seemed to have other answers. OMG. Have I considered other options? OF COURSE! I'm not first in line to jump onto a table or anything, but will certainly do so if it is the best option for me now and my future! Then he started asking me if I sleep on my tummy and if I stop, it may go away. HELLO?!?! So I explained to him a third time that you can't reverse scoliosis without surgery and, in my case, not even stop it. Then came my favorite part. Seriously... "Well," he says - "I was having back pain last year so I went to get some x-rays. They told me I had some scoliosis. So I went to a chiropractor and she made me feel a lot better. A year later, I went for x-rays and my scoliosis was gone! You should try that!" OOMMGG... I reiterated that chiropractors can't reverse scoli and that I had been going to one this whole time that it was getting worse - even their own national website says that!! So my explanation to him was either an idiot took his x-rays, an idiot diagnosed his x-rays, or something else to do with an idiot... (I'm really not a mean person) But come on, like all of us, we have certainly been doing our research before jumping into this. I know he was just trying to be nice, but he drives me crazy to begin with - if his chiropractor really fixed it in a year, I'll be sure to post his/her name on this site as long as you all promise to let me go first...

abhbarry
10-21-2006, 08:35 AM
Hi Brian,

Yes, that is very frustrating. A lot of people don't understand scoliosis especially because most people who have scoliosis don't have it as badly as we all do.

People's ignorance can be very upsetting. I also find that people appreciate it when I talk openly about my condition so that they can finally "understand" (to the best of their ability). For example, yesterday one of my friends said, "well you don't look like you have a back problem." I told her to feel my spine and it wasn't until she put her hand on my back and realized how far over to the left my curve went that she said, "Wow - I had no idea!" She thanked me for letting her get a better understanding of my condition. For better or worse, this is a condition where we really have to educate people. I know it is frustrating, but sometimes educating people about it actually make us feel more empowered - if that makes any sense?

Best,
Anya

sweetness514
10-21-2006, 02:08 PM
That guy seems like he's annoying, lol.

But yeah, most people who don't have any type of health issues don't get or understand what they're about. Like for another type of example, certain people with big curves don't experience much pain where others who have small ones do. I also dislike when some people think that b/c one person they know has a certain disease or condition and they are all right or have certain symptoms, that everybody is the same. Like with MS or cancer for example. The one thing that gets me the most is when some say being positive will cure anything. It certainly can't hurt, and can make bad times and illnesses easier to deal with, but I know some people who were extremely positive who lost their battle to cancer and others who were majorly depressed who beat it.

Anyways, some venting of my own :rolleyes: All done now.

BrianB
10-21-2006, 08:34 PM
Amen to all of that. I am in complete agreement with educating people about it. He started coming around a little more today. (But he is pretty dorky, so how much can you really ask for?) And the ironic thing - his back was hurting him more than mine at the end of the day yesterday after working all day... I guess it all just goes to show you how much this forum should not be taken for granted. I truly feel like I have learned as much here as from my doctor - just "different" things. Kinda like those life lessons that you never learn in college but should know before graduating.

Suzy
10-22-2006, 02:22 PM
Brian, I was smiling while reading about the idiot! Isn't is ridiculous how some people are so gullible? I have a acquaintance who is a chiropractor who's wife has scoliosis and he won't touch her!! I feel like going on tour of all the schools of chiropractors and telling them to quit misleading the scoliosis patients and direct them to real Dr's. Geez! There have been some who have spent years and $$$ with one only to have their curves increase then be told they can't be "helped" any more!

Lynne, Yes I am still in P.T. and my Ins. does pay for it. Since this surgery is so big and the recovery is so long I don't fall under the normal "limits" set in my plan. (Which was 20 visits per yr.) Mt P.T. just told me my Dr. wrote a very detailed and generous Rx for my therapy. I can't believe the back muscles I am getting! And my abs look great too! LOL! It is tough but it works.

BrianB
10-24-2006, 09:57 AM
Hi all,

Well, I met with a personal trainer today and it made me feel better about the whole sit-up thing. He told me he doesn't like to have anyone do situps because it puts a tremendous strain on the back / spine and that there are lots of other ways to work them out. And I believe him, since he worked them to death. Wow. Another interesting thing, which I will check with my doctor about - he told me that, about two months out from surgery, it would be a good idea for me to try and gain some weight - maybe 8-10 pounds combination of muscle and fat so that it won't be so bad when I lose weight after surgery. Right now, I don't have a whole lot to lose and the extra weight would apparently help so that my body wouldn't lose as much weight in my muscles, etc. Anyone go through something similar? I like this guy- he doesn't want me doing any spinal compression or twisting exercises or squats with weights on my shoulders - says we can work all those muscles in other ways. I have my first full session with him on Thursday. Hopefully I'll be able to post after it. lol.

sweetness514
10-24-2006, 02:12 PM
I was very thin before surgery, and donating blood combined with stress an having been on a low sugar diet had made it worse so it would have helped to have more weight on. By the time I had surgery I was barely 100 pounds(I was 5'4"). After surgery the weight came on naturally for me, after the first few weeks I started eating more again. I'm now always between 120 and 130 pounds, and grew an inch from surgery(5'5"), and yes the weight and muscles help with not feeling hardware as much.

bbest
10-25-2006, 11:02 AM
Brian -

Some people are idiots. There, I said it.