View Full Version : Surgery is Monday - very nervous!

02-08-2007, 03:21 PM
Well, my daughter is going in on Monday to have surgery on her back. She was diagnosed with a Idiopathic Scoliosis back in October, and the Dr told us that he was sorry to tell us right off the bat that her curves required surgery. She has a double curve, one at 51 degrees, and the other is 55 degrees (it has since progressed to 60 degrees since October.) Needless to say, we were shocked at the news, because we never saw it coming! Dr Karlin explained (and showed us with the x-rays) that since opposing curves, they somewhat balanced each other out when just looking with the naked eye. It was noticable when she bends down, as her right shoulder "hunches" up quite a bit.

As the surgery date got closer, I started looking for support to deal with this, and came across this forum. What great advice and support I found in here! Trouble is, I got the impression that my daughter is in for a few months of strictly laying in bed, and being an invalid. Thankfully, Dr. Karlin set me straight last Thursday when we went to Children's Hospital in Boston for all the pre-op stuff. He told me she'd be up and walking a day after surgery, maybe two days later - tops. What a relief! My daughter is a wonderful 12 year old, and very active - and we were so worried about how she was going to deal with her recovery. The fact that she will be able to be up and about, at least in some capacity, is a relief.

One thing that really worries me, is the fact she loves to dance. She's been going to the same dance studio for 6 years now, and I'm worried about her ability to dance after the surgery. I couldn't get the exact numbers of the vertebrae that are being fused, but he did say that he'll be fusing a some on her upper spine to correct the first curve, and a few on her lower spine as well. Anyone ever have problems with being able to go back to dancing? Obviously we know some of her movements will be restricted - but enough to prohibit her from dancing again? That's her biggest issue - she's actually taking this whole surgery thing better than my wife and I are!

02-08-2007, 03:42 PM
For the most part, she should be able to dance, but may have a little trouble with flexibility issues in ballet, and maybe jazz. It really depends how far they fuse. My fusion limited me in moves that require an arched back and anything that required you to bend down toward the toes, like a toe touch (you can see my length of fusion in my sig). In my case, I would never be able to dance like in the nutcracker ballet, but didn't have much trouble in dance class.

Spencer's Dad
02-08-2007, 05:20 PM
Heather's Dad,

Good luck with the surgery. We will keep you in our thoughts and prayers. I know how anxious the days ahead can be and like you I turned to this forum and the spinekids forum for help. Everyone here has been a great support and Spencer's surgery went better than I ever could have imagined. Also like you, I remember that when I first started reading posts here I got the same impression that you did - the surgery is big and awful and takes months and years to recover from. Then I realized that I was mostly reading posts from older scoli patients and, as one would expect, older people take longer to heal.

As I started hearing from parents of kids, and the kids themselves, I realized that kids rebound much quicker. Spencer is about 4 weeks post op now and is doing great. In fact, I would say that he is almost back to his old self again, with only a wince or two when we move him the wrong way.

There is no doubt about it, it is a big surgery!! But for us at least, the anticipation was way worse than recovery. Hang in there. You'll make it through and before you know it Sarah will be dancing around the house again.

Keep us posted on how things go!


02-08-2007, 07:05 PM
Heathers dad--My curves as a 14-15 yr old were about 43/45 balanced. So Heather does seem to have a much larger curve. So much good luck w/ the surgery. Kids seem to bounce back from this wonderfully! She'll do fine... I lasted until 46 until I needed surgery. Of course, now a days they can do so much more than back when I was that age! I will keep her & you in my thoughts...all the best..Lynne :)
ps...even at my age you can rebound well, I'm 5 months post-op & feel great!!!

surgery,,this past August2006/Dr. Boachie/Kim@HSS in NYCity
fused t-11 to L-5 for 95 degree thorocolumbar curve

Spencer's Dad
02-09-2007, 01:40 AM
lol. Lynne you are not of the age I was referring :) .

Spencer's Dad
02-12-2007, 01:33 PM
Thinking of Heather and her family today during surgery. Keep us posted.

02-12-2007, 07:44 PM
Heather underwent her surgery today, and did VERY well! The doctors and nurses told us that there was very little bleeding, and she never required the 2 units of blood Heather and I had drawn last week. She went into the operating room around 7:30 am (more about that in a minute), and came out around 3:30 in the afternoon. She looked really good - no real puffiness or swelling, and her color was good. I guess a lot of people turn somewhat pale during the surgery, but like I said, she did really well.

Heather handled everything really well - no real worries up until just before they took her in, then she started to get a little scared, which is to be expected. All in all, I am VERY proud how she handled everything. I, on the other hand, didn't do so well. I was okay for the most part...until it came time to put her under and take her to the operating room. They let one parent go into the room to help her concentrate and relax as she went under. I sat with her, as she held the stuffed gorilla my sister Chery and niece Brittany gave her in one hand, and was holding my hand in her other hand. She got the giggles from the laughing gas, which was really cute, but then her eyes glazed over and the rolled back and she went to sleep. She dropped the gorilla (George), and my hand - and I just lost it. It was embarassing, but I just couldn't help it. I hated seeing my little girl that way - it tore my heart out.

I can't say enough about how helpful the staff were today at Children's in Boston!They were out every hour and a half to let us know how Heather was doing, and great at making us feel like we were constantly in the loop in reguards to what was going on.

My wife and I sat with Heather as she was in recovery, then all of went up when she got into her room. She was very tired and groggy, but doing pretty good. She saw everyone (me, my wife, my mother in law, my mother, her brother Steven, and my sister Chery), and gave everyone a kiss before they left. She looked really good, although it was still hard to leave. My wife is spending the night there, and either my mother -in - law or I will stay tomorrow. After that, we'll see if she still wants us there overnight.

Thank you all for your kind words and thoughts - it's been very helpful.

02-12-2007, 10:35 PM
Those are some long hours waiting for your child to come out of surgery...glad to hear it was successful and uncomplicated. Hope the recovery goes as smoothly. Best wishes -


02-12-2007, 10:49 PM
So glad to hear your daughter did so well, you have a right to be proud. We haven't set a date yet but expect to soon, my daughter's curves are similar to what Heather's were. It helps me a great deal to hear other success stories. Thanks for posting and I wish your daughter a speedy recovery. :)

Spencer's Dad
02-13-2007, 12:06 AM
We are so glad Heather's surgery went so well today. You all have been in our thoughts and prayers. It is so hard to see these little ones in such vunerable and helpless states. Dont worry about losing it, we all do it a some point. I know I've had my share. But now it is time to celebrate!!!! So here's to a speedy and uneventful recovery, and from Spencer's family to Heather's family a deeply felt virtual "High Five."

02-15-2007, 08:20 PM
Heather is showing more progress today. Yesterday they stopped the continuous Morphine drip, leaving her with just a dose when she pressed a button, and today she's off of it completely. She's on oral meds, OxyContin twice a day, and Oxycodin every 4 hours, but only if she needs it, and she really hasn't taken it that often.

She was really happy to have her Foley removed this morning, as well as having the dressing on her back replaced with a smaller bandage. She still has the I.V. leads in her hands, but they aren't attached to anything at moment - they just want them available in case she's needs something right away. My guess is that they'll be taken out soon, as well.

She did some walking today, which was really great! It's only 10 steps to and from the bathroom - but it IS walking, and although it does cause her some pain, it is getting a bit easier on her. And, she IS a little bit taller now, believe it or not. Maybe only an inch, but she and my wife noticed it this morning. Also, I took a look this evening as she was walking, and it does seem like her right shoulder has indeed dropped down a bit since before the surgery.

She is eating a little - not a whole bunch, but we are working on getting her to eat more. Part of it is her lack of appetite, and part of of is her somewhat dislike of the hospital food. She has no dietary restrictions, so tomorrow may bring some fresh fruit from the cafeteria, and a little something from Subway or McD's.

We're hoping to have her come home this weekend - hopefully Saturday. She has to be able to stand by herself and take an X-ray, be eating a little more, and be able to do one other thing before they can decide about letting her come home. We'll keep everyone updated.

02-15-2007, 09:33 PM
Dear Heather's Dad-

It lifted my spirits to hear about Heather's surgery and recovery. She sounds like a real trooper. Good wishes to her and all of you.



Spencer's Dad
02-15-2007, 11:53 PM
Sounds like Heather is right on track for a great recovery. Tell her everyone here is pulling for her and give her our best wishes. We are thrilled that things are going so well.

02-18-2007, 08:17 AM
We brought my daughter home yesterday - and she was thrilled to finally get into her own bed again! She still needs help turning over in bed and such, but all in all, she's happy to be home (as are we!)

The one thing I was not prepared for, is the emotional aspect of things. I'm not sure if it's medications she's on (Oxycontin, Oxycodine, and Valium for the spasms), or the overall emotional toll of everything that has happened to her in a week, but she's done a lot of crying, and has been having really weird nightmares, although the nightmares are not about her back. She said she feels bad that she has to 'bug' me and my wife all the time for help, she wants her old back back, she said she's a freak with a bunch of hardware and will never be normal, plus she feels guilty because everyone is 'paying attention' to her. Obviously we assure her that she's not a bother, and that she's not a freak - but I don't know what else to do for her except be there for her. I'm sure this will all pass, and I'm sure a lot of this is release of all the emotions she's had over this whole ordeal - but I hate seeing my little girl feeling this way.

On the other hand, physically she's doing really well. Her back looks good and is healing well. She's walking more, we're just trying to get her to get out of bed a little more and sit up for a while.

Thanks again for all the support and kind words - this forum has been a great shoulder to lean on during this whole process.

Karen Ocker
02-18-2007, 07:26 PM
Valium lasts a long time in the body-one dose lasts up to 3 days in some people. This means that it continuously builds up in the body tissues as long as it's being taken. It is a depressant and indeed can cause tearfullness.

If cutting back causes pain not relieved by her narcotics- some people get relief from Neurontin or Lyrica which is excellent for nerve pain not touched by opiods.

02-19-2007, 09:24 AM
My daughter was 14 when she had her surgery. She danced in the Nutcracker 6 months after her surgery. She started back dancing 3 months after surgery. She danced in West Side Story this past weekend and will be in three more shows this spring with her high school dance class(2 different shows) and her dance studio. Dance has been a great way for her to get back in shape and strengthen her back again! She was told to wait 6 - 12 months before doing leaps, but started sooner. She did have pain when she "cheated" on her doctor's advice. My daughter is fused from T5 - L3 with two rods.

02-20-2007, 08:32 AM
I'm so happy to hear that Heather's recovery is going great so far!

Just the other day, my daughter said that she found out that a girl in her HS, Emily, had recently had fusion. She only knew because Emily was complaining about her post-op brace. From what my daughter can figure out from the last time she saw Emily at school (she did not want to ask too many questions), Emily's surgery was less than two months ago (perhaps as recent as five or six weeks). The bottom line is that my daughter was pretty amazed that Emily was "back to her old self" so quickly.

I know that everyone's recovery is different, but I just wanted to share this as encouragement to anyone facing surgery that some patients do bounce back very quickly.

02-20-2007, 09:38 AM
I'm so happy that Heather did well with the surgery & all. The drugs can make you very emotional. While in the hospital & on the morphine, I had a few weird dreams...I guess all to be expected...
I think at any age, coming thru this kind of surgery, we are so relieved in a great way when all of the anticipation & fear is over...it certainly can bring one to tears...believe me!
Lynne -age 47
fused T-11 to L-5 ant/post done aug 1, 2006/Boachie/Kim
6 MOS POST-Op...finally! :)

03-03-2007, 07:05 AM
Heather is progressing nicely in her recovery. She's up and walking more, as well as finally being able to lie on her back comfortably. She's sitting up for longer stretches at a time now, which is handy since she started having tutor visits from the school this week.

By her choice, she's not taking the Oxycontin every 12 hours any more - only if she feels she may need it. For immediate relief she's still using the Oxycodine, and she's even cut back on that. She's still using the Valium for the spasms she gets, but even those are starting to subside. I'm really proud she's making the decision on her own, as to which medication she wants to take. Obviously my wife and I have a say - so, but so far Heather has been doing well with making the decisions on her own. I think she's overly concerned about the addictive factor of Oxycontin & Valium, but she's doing well.

Although she doesn't like having tutors coming in to help her catch up with her school work, she's starting to express her "I can't wait to go back to school" feelings. I'm sure it's more because she misses her friends than anything else. Her friends call and talk to her to tell her how much they miss her - but no one comes to visit. :( With any luck, she'll be back to school next month.

She finally sat at her desk with my son's laptop the other day, and read this thread. It made her feel good that so many people actually understand and care. I'm trying to get her to post stuff herself - but she's more interested in MySpace!

Anyhow - thanks again and again and again for all your kind words and support, they mean a lot, and they mean a lot to my daughter as well.

Oh - she asked me to post her before and after x-rays. I hope this doesn't violate any terms.

03-03-2007, 07:36 AM
So glad to hear how well Heather is doing. Those x-rays are amazing. Thanks so much for sharing them. Her spine looks great!!!

Best wishes for a successful recovery.

03-03-2007, 07:38 AM

Just saw your post. How wonderful that your daughter is continuing with her dancing. My daughter is a dancer, as well. So it is very encouraging. Good for her!!!

03-03-2007, 08:53 AM
Great correction, thanks for sharing. Hope recovery continues to go well.


08-16-2007, 03:24 AM
My daughter had her 6 month follow-up exam this week, and is doing really well. We're all so happy about this! She's no longer on any meds, with the exceptional pill for pain that may be caused by out of the ordinary circumstances, such as the vibrations caused by the sound system at Fenway Park during the Police concert last month. I think that's been the only things that bothers her the most right now, vibrations caused by deep, bass-y sounds. She says it bothers her less and less, and I'm sure it's something that she'll get used to over time.

Her range of motion has increased, and her doctor has told her it's time to start physical therapy, so we're looking for a place closer to us than Boston. She's been given the okay to go back to dance lessons, as long as she remains aware of her limitations - which is, for the most part, a lack of side - to - side bending, at least for now.

Her scar is healing up really nice, although it will obviously always be there. I thought for sure she would be so self - consious about it, but it doesn't seem to bother her at all, which is great - I can't say I'd be the same way myself.

So, over all, we're all pretty happy about the surgery - I hope this helps others in their decision making process.

08-16-2007, 12:20 PM
Thanks for the update, glad to hear your daughter is doing well. She must be excited to be able to get back to dancing!

The Police concert!!!! WOW, what a lucky girl, I bet that was a really good concert.

Best wishes,