View Full Version : new here- considering surgery

daniel s.
03-06-2009, 11:57 PM
im new here...

i am 35 yrs old. i was diagnosed with scoliosis at 14 yrs old after a high school wrestling injury. at that time i had a 32 degree thoratic, and 28 degree lumbar curve. recently my pain has been getting worse and worse. i am a chef and i am on my feet 12+ hrs a day bending, twisting, reaching, and lifting... the last 2 years it has been a real challenge to work. i take 800mg ibuprofen every 6hrs (on work days) and vicodin too when its bad. now i dont sleep well either. these dont do much for me but better than nothing... pt helps a little...

so, i went back to the doc and got new xrays. im now 62 thoratic, 45 lumbar, and he says i have another 45 degree curve up higher above the thoratic one (someone please tell me the correct term for this area! )

now i went to a scoliosis surgeon. he is recommending surgery. he says that it will begin to impact my breathing as the curve worsens... not sure how many or which vertebrae exactly he plans to fuse...

i have so many questions i dont know where to begin! some at the top of my head would be; how was the pain from the surgery in the first days and weeks? did the pain meds cover most of it up? how long till i can expect to stand up and go to the bathroom etc? how long till you can eat? take a shower? go home from the hospital? sorry, i have so many questions i dont know where to stop!

thank you,

03-07-2009, 05:34 AM
I am waiting for surgery like you, but I hope yours goes very well.

03-07-2009, 05:55 AM

I've been told by several surgeons that I needed surgery and by several that I shouldn't have it yet. Ultimately, I'm the one in charge of my own body and will make up my own mind. Get all the facts and go from there. Definitely get another opinion or two.

Have you thought about changing careers. Maybe something in the same field. Write a cookbook, buy a restaurant, etc. I've been a photographer for the last 10 years. I started out doing high school reunions and daycares. I realized all the hauling of equipment was too much for me. Now I do portraits in my home.

I'm not saying to not have surgery. I'm just saying to think it through. If you've already made up your mind, please ignore this.


03-07-2009, 08:06 AM
Hi Daniel,

I know it's scary as hell when you're first faced with the 'surgery' recommendation. Let me try to answer some of your questions from my perspective:

How was the pain from the surgery in the first days and weeks?
I won't lie--it felt like I was hit by a truck. Not at first though. When I first woke up I felt no pain whatsoever because of the morphine (I think) injection they shoot your spine up before you are closed up.

Did the pain meds cover most of it up?
When I was switched to oral meds in the hospital, the pain wasn't totally gone. For me, it was gone enough so that I could sleep a few hours at a time. Once I got home, the pain was the worse for 2 weeks or so. After that, it started to lessen up a little at a time, and that's when I started cutting back the pain meds slowly. I was off all pain meds right before 3 months post op. I have no surgical pain any more.

How long till i can expect to stand up and go to the bathroom etc?
Most people are asked to stand up and walk a few steps the next day, but for me I had to lay flat for 24 hours because there had been a tear in my upper spine and they didn't want me to get a spinal headache. For me, it was on day 3. I didn't need to go to the bathroom until maybe the 4th day when the took out the catheter.

How long till you can eat?
I think I was eating regular food by day 3. Day 2 (I think) was liquids.

take a shower? go home from the hospital?
I came home on day 6. The next day I was able to take a shower (with help of my husband) using a shower chair. I used the chair for about 2 weeks, and then started taking showers by myself standing up. Until day 12 when I had stitches removed, I couldn't get the back wet, so we had to tape it up with a plastic garbage bag. It was kind of a PIA, but once I was able to get the back wet, it felt so wonderful having the water run down over all of me.

Feel free to ask any questions you have.

daniel s.
03-07-2009, 04:39 PM
thanks everyone for your replies...

i have not made up my mind. i definitely do not want to have the surgery. the recovery sounds awful. i also dont want this to be the end of my career... but, i am concerned about how much the curve has been progressing, and ultimately and impacting my breathing later on. im very much on the fence here! are there other proven, non surgical options to prevent progression at this stage ?

i think that maybe its best to have the surgery while im young... i also have pretty good insurance now, in this economy restaurants are slowing down too. i would prefer to do this while i have good coverage...

i have been thinking about the possibility of a career change lately. but, what i do means so much to me. besides my family, its the most important thing to me! i understand someday i may not have a choice tho...

i plan on seeking a second opinion. if anyone has a any suggestions for the Sacramento, Ca area im all ears!

would anyone care to share why they chose surgery?

thanks again,

03-07-2009, 06:30 PM
check out this link


not sure I did this right, if not it's
adult patients-non-surgical-why you did or didn't have surgery


03-08-2009, 01:09 PM

There is a meeting this Saturday, March 14th in downtown Sacramento with the NSF scoliosis support group. It would be a good idea to come since there will be quite a few of us there that can answer some questions. Hopefully, I will be coming down from Reno. You can PM me if you want. Or contact Diane Gums RN 916-684-6382

Sutter Cancer Center 1:00 to 3:00pm
2800 L Street Rm 220
Speaker: Dr Picetti MD

see attachment

daniel s.
03-11-2009, 04:26 PM
thanks ed,
i have contacted diane gumms. my surgeon already gave me her info. i am very interested in the support group. i will however be working in tahoe this weekend. im not able to get the day off this time...so i will not be able to attend. hopefully the next meeting i will be there... guys i will be passing you on 80 tho :)


03-12-2009, 12:20 PM
Daniel, I sent you a Private message with my phone # since we live close. I have so many answers for you I cant wait to talk. Just for starters I had surgery because the pain was effecting my way of life. Actually, I was starting to NOT have a life. You do not need to change careers IMHO! Recovery is S L O W but it is just that RECOVERY!

Ed, You beat me to the punch with the meeting info, great job. See you Sat!

03-12-2009, 10:09 PM
Hi Danie...

A chef, huh? That's really a tough job for anyone with back problems. If you've got disc problems in your lower back (and you almost certainly do), it's going to be extremely painful to stand for any length of time until you get the problem fixed.

I put together a quiz to help people think about whether scoliosis surgery is right for them:


Good luck with your decision.


daniel s.
03-13-2009, 12:09 AM
thank you linda,
that was a very insightful quiz...

yes standing all day can be painful. the worst is all the bending and twisting in my job. i try to use good mechanics. PT is helping a little. so does 800mg motrin daily, and occasionally (maybe 1-2x every 2 weeks i take vicodin if i just cant function) it is painful. but, ive been surviving. at this point im just not sure which will be worse! living with it, or recovering from surgery and living with all those fused vertebrae!

this forum has been very informative.