View Full Version : First post

02-16-2009, 01:46 PM
Hi! I have been reading everyone's posts for several months now. However, this is the first time I've taken the time to post. I must start by saying this information is so helpful!!!

My name is Rachel and I'm 35. I am married to the most wonderful, supporting husband and have two kids ages 4 & 14. My surgery date is March 16 (one month from today) and I'm scared to death!!!!! I will have a posterior fusion from T4-T12 and a right Iliac (sp?) crest bone graft.

For starters, does anyone know Dr. Robert Hurford? He's the orthopedic surgeon performing my surgery. He is located in Urbana, IL. http://www.carlespineinstitute.com/about_us/physician_bios.html
I have went to see him several times but would still love to know of someone that's had surgery with him....or knows of someone that has. He was recommended to me by two doctor's in IL.

I work full-time and the thought of going through all of this with my family as well as taking off so much time for work really concerns me. Like all of us, I just want everything to be "okay".

Thanks for listening! I really appreciate everyone's feedback and enjoy reading other's stories...it's so nice not to feel "alone".


02-16-2009, 06:37 PM
Hello Rachel!

I'm glad you decided to finally post. So welcome to the forums and as you have read there are many people who have felt like you do before their surgeries. They made it through and so will you. :)

I am in full agreement with you on being glad you aren't feeling 'alone' anymore. My wife, my family really do not know what its like, they can be as supportive as they can, but its not really the same thing. People here 'understand', and thats a big thing.

Again, welcome to finally posting! :D


02-16-2009, 07:25 PM
Hi Rachel,

I can't give you any info on your doctor, but just wanted to say welcome. You will hear this from many people, but I seriously think that no one could have been scared more than me. You will get through it, you really will. And your fusioin stops at T12 so you will still have lots of mobility.

Does your surgeon provide a list of previous patients as references? Mine did, and I spoke to 3 or 4 of them, one who posts here on this forum.

Feel free to ask any details you want. Or search on some of my early posts, you won't believe some of the goofy things I asked. :) But the thing is, they aren't goofy if you are WORRIED about them.

Take one day at a time, enjoy the time with your husband and kids, and make sure you take time out to pamper yourself during this month.

02-16-2009, 08:17 PM
Thanks so much for the responses/welcomes; I really appreciate it! It's also good to hear that I will still have good mobility as well. My surgeon mentioned this, but, sometimes you worry that they are just telling you "what you want to hear" ;)

Thanks again!

02-16-2009, 08:19 PM
Hi Rachel, and welcome to the forum!

I was pretty scared before the surgery too. I seriously thought I would chicken out on the day of and not get on the table. Luckily, they gave me Versed to relax me and I went through with it.

Now, 13 weeks post-op, I feel MUCH better than I did before surgery. I don't have the back pain, I have more energy than I used to, and I'm glad I did it. My back is still tight and I get muscle spasms and sometimes it's sore to lean on a hard-backed chair, but overall it's so much better. The first several weeks were VERY hard for me. I was like an infant, needing help with everything. But after 6 weeks, it got better and better.

Good luck! I went to college at U of Illinois Champaign/Urbana--that's where my husband and I met--very good memories!

02-16-2009, 08:23 PM

Debbe's absolutely right about the mobility typically retained after a fusion you describe: My fusion runs T4-L1, and about the ONLY thing I can't do (haven't really tried, though ... feasibly, I MIGHT be able to again - I could just before surgery at 39) is a backbend.

If that's as bad as it gets, I'm a happy girl! Ask away on all your questions ... most of us have been there ;-).


02-16-2009, 09:17 PM
Did anyone else here need a bone graft? If so, were you sore in the area they took the bone from?

Also, great to hear about someone else that's been to school in this area - although, the Champagne area is not too exciting!!! Are you familiar with the Spine Institute there?

I'm so glad I finally posted :)

02-17-2009, 01:32 PM
Rachel--Youve heard it before...whats one more time ---welcome to the site! I ran into it on accident, and Im so glad I did, cuz it really does help knowing there are people out there who have the same thing goin onas you do. Its nice to get honest answers & opinions which is nice. They arent sugar coated either...which is nice, as then you know exactly what to expect!

I think you would be the "odd man out" if you werent totally nervous, really! I was a mess a few days before, but look,,here I am...with a new straight back!

I am not familiar w/your Doc, sorry, so I cant be much help w/that. Im sure you will find someone , or like Debbe said, ask you doc for some names/#'s of his patients w/the same surgery.

I was supposed to have an anterior & posterior surgery w/a graph from my right hip BUT a miracle happened that morning, when I was in pre op....Dr Tribus came into to talk w/me and said that after further review of my xrays, he was just going to do the posterior! I was thrilled. AND after the surgery he informed my husband (I was out at the time) that he was able to use the bone fragments(I forget what word he used, sorry) from my vertabrae to do the graph so there was no need for the stuff from the hip! Maybe that will happen for you! Fingers crossed!

You and I are the same age...Iwill be 35 in April..yikes....I have a 12 yrs old & a 4 yr old....both boys & a supportive hubby, just like you! I knew that I had to get in as much play time w/them all prior to the surgery as possible. Like someone mentioned before--Pam I think, she said that you are lucky to only (only, Im using VERY loosely!!) be fused to T12! She is right you will have a little more flexability! Im fused from L4 to T4....and Im about 5 weeks post op. Ialso set up a trip to the salon to get pampered!! Its a must do!

I just recently learned to try things(movememnts) & see what happens....my back def. tells me its OK or NO!! Im feeling a bit more confident these past few days and now, I do not regret my decision. If you would have talked to be about 3 weeks ago, I wouldnt have sounded so happy & postive! lol Somehow the 4 week point was a BIG change for me...I was able to get into & out of a car, sit at the kitchen table w/no pillow behind me & bend forward, as to not drop me food all over me! I shaved my legs, dryed my hair & even put on makeup a few days ago. I would do it all over again despite the pain, as I know Im going to have a better quality of life in my future!

Good luck & of course, we are all here for you! Have a nice day!!

02-17-2009, 07:57 PM
You all are making me feel much better - the support is phenominal! There are some amazing stories and some people "just like me". Thanks so much!!

Also, I forgot to mention, my curves are right thoracic curve of 52 degrees, and left thorocolumbar curve of 38 degrees.

I've really noticed my rib hump being more obvious in the last year. I try my best to hide "it" but, I'm really getting tired of not being able to wear the form fitting shirts! I wear a lot of suits for work; however, they look sloppy if you wear them too loose.

Have a great evening, all.


02-19-2009, 02:19 PM
Did anyone else here need a bone graft? If so, were you sore in the area they took the bone from?


Everyone requires some sort of bone graft; the only difference is where the bone *comes* from.

What you're describing is referred to as "autograft": The surgeon harvests bone from the patient ... generally from the iliac crest, but sometimes, if a thoracoplasty is done, there's enough from that. People rate their pain from a hip graft differently ... it bothers some more than others.

What I had is referred to as "allograft": My surgeon packed my fusion with cadaver bone vs. taking any from my body.

Both autograft or allograft can be combined with rhBMP-2 (recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein). In simple terms, rhBMP-2 helps solidify a fusion more quickly by stimulating your body to produce more bone-forming cells.

In the area between the rods, the surgeon will first pack the fusion with graft material. If rhBMP-2 (the marketed name is actually InfuseŽ) is added, it comes in the form of absorbable collagen sponges (ACS) that are soaked in the protein and then laid over the grafted area. When they're placed (I actually have photos of mine), they look like white foam: Over time, you body just completely dissolves them.

While there's still no data (at least not that I've seen, although I haven't checked in the very recent past) on the long-term solidity of a fusion using BMP, it definitely creates a much faster fusion. Where most people are released from restrictions at 1 year post-op, I was released at 4 months (well, from everything except playing ball or golf ... I could do the cages and range, and deep sea fishing ... and I was released to those at 7 months).

Some surgeons who use BMP still hold the patient to the standard restriction period ... it just varies by surgeon, and by case.

Although some surgeons (Lenke is one) will use BMP on adolescents, most don't; there just isn't much data to prove it's effective on kids - and it's not cheap.

My surgeon gave me the choice, and the biggest factor in my decision to get it was shortened recovery. 4-6 months was already unpalatable enough to me ...

All that said, plenty of people do fine without it. Everyone has to choose for themselves.


02-19-2009, 07:46 PM
Wow - you are very knowledgeable about all of this stuff!! Thanks for the info!