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Thread: Fly or Drive? For those who went out of town for surgery...

  1. #1
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    Fly or Drive? For those who went out of town for surgery...

    I'm having surgery in Dallas in April, and I live in south Florida. I will probably do a week or more in the rehab hospital after my regular hospital stay, since I live so far away.

    It's a long two days drive home by car. We have a comfortable Toyota Sienna van that I could take all the rear seats out of and put comfy bed down, or just fully recline in one of the rear seats, they even have foot rests like recliners.... My husband would be fine to do all the driving. Of course, there are some bumpy stretches of interstate along the way.

    Alternatively, I'd fly home, in which case I'd fly first class out of DFW into West Palm Beach, which is half an hour from home.

    What do you all think?
    Last edited by Mojo's Mom; 10-16-2011 at 09:50 PM.
    Stephanie, age 56
    Diagnosed age 8
    Milwaukee brace 9 years, no further treatment, symptom free and clueless until my 40s that curves could progress.
    Thoracolumbar curve 39 degrees at age 17
    Now somewhere around 58 degrees thoracic, 70 degrees thoracolumbar
    Surgeon Dr. Michael S. O'Brien, Baylor's Southwest Scoliosis Center, Dallas TX
    Bilateral laminectomies at L3 to L4, L4 to L5 and L5 to S1 on April 4, 2012
    Foramenotomies L3 through S1 in August 2014

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Northern California
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    7,120
    Hi...

    The roads in my area are in horrible shape, but I was surprised to find that even big pot holes didn't give me any back pain.

    A lot of people fly, and I think it can be pretty easy, if everything goes fine. I always worry that someone will end up with some huge delay or other travel disaster. I guess if I were making the decision, I'd opt for driving. At least that way, you can lie down if necessary, and you can stop and get out as often as necessary.

    Regards,
    Linda
    Never argue with an idiot. They always drag you down to their level, and then they beat you with experience. --Twain
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Surgery 2/10/93 A/P fusion T4-L3
    Surgery 1/20/11 A/P fusion L2-sacrum w/pelvic fixation

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mojo's Mom View Post
    I'm having surgery in Dallas in April, and I live in south Florida. I will probably do a week or more in the rehab hospital after my regular hospital stay, since I live so far away.

    It's a long two days drive home by car. We have a comfortable Toyota Sienna van that I could take all the rear seats out of and put comfy bed down, or just fully recline in one of the rear seats, they even have foot rests like recliners.... My husband would be fine to do all the driving. Of course, there are some bumpy stretches of interstate along the way.

    Alternatively, I'd fly home, in which case I'd fly first class out of DFW into West Palm Beach, which is half an hour from home.

    What do you all think?
    Hi Stephanie,
    I was originally planning to have hubby drive me to St. Louis from Atlanta (8 hour drive one way) for my surgery, but I've change my mind and will fly. I've talked with several of Dr. Lenke's patients who live out of state. Most of them who live beyond a 7 hour drive time said, looking back now they wished they had flown. The flight is a little over one hour so I'd rather get it over and done with and be home asap. One of the folks who did fly said it was no big deal getting through security and her flight time was short too compared to 2 days on the road.

    Your signature says surgery date of 2011; should it be 2012? :-)

    Warmly,
    Doreen
    44 years old at time of surgery, Atlanta GA

    Pre-Surgery Thorasic: 70 degrees, Pre-Surgery Lumbar: 68 degrees, lost 4 inches of height in 2011
    Post-Surgery curves ~10 degrees, regained 4 inches of height

    Posterior T3-sacrum & TLIF surgeries on Nov 28, 2011 with Dr. Lenke, St. Louis
    2 rods, 33 screws, 2 cages, 2 connectors, living a new life I never dreamed of!

    http://thebionicachronicles.blogspot.com/

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by LindaRacine View Post
    Hi...

    The roads in my area are in horrible shape, but I was surprised to find that even big pot holes didn't give me any back pain.

    A lot of people fly, and I think it can be pretty easy, if everything goes fine. I always worry that someone will end up with some huge delay or other travel disaster. I guess if I were making the decision, I'd opt for driving. At least that way, you can lie down if necessary, and you can stop and get out as often as necessary.

    Regards,
    Linda
    I agree with Linda.
    Melissa

    Fused from C2 - sacrum 7/2011

    December 8, 2014 - Another Broken Rod Surgery

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Ohio
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    Hi Stephanie,

    Boy, do I remember pondering this same question! I didn't decide until after my surgery. I decided to drive home so I could control the situation (stop at any time to get out and walk around). Also, I discovered after one lunch out (while recuperating at the hotel that I went to after being released from the hospital) that I was very anxious around crowds. So I was a bit afraid to be in a crowded airport.

    Now having said that, it was a very long drive home! We split the drive into 2 days of approximately 4 hours each. By the end of day two, I would have killed for somewhere to lie down.

    You will have the advantage of being in the south where the roads should be much smoother which would help. But, it sounds like your drive would be closer to 16 hours....that is a lot of sitting! Can you wait to decide until after surgery to see how you feel?

    Yes, you can get stuck waiting on a delayed flight, but you can also get stuck in construction traffic. That happened to us and added an hour to our drive the first day.

    All the best,
    Kathy
    Kathy
    46 yrs at surgery, now 50
    71 degree thoracolumbar curve corrected to 34 degrees
    8/2/2010 surgery with Dr. Lenke

    posterior T9 to sacrum with pelvic fixation

    4 osteotomies and 1 cage
    http://s1066.photobucket.com/albums/...athK_08022010/

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by KathK View Post
    Hi Stephanie,

    it sounds like your drive would be closer to 16 hours....that is a lot of sitting! Can you wait to decide until after surgery to see how you feel?
    It is actually more than 16 hours on the road, more like 20, as I recall. That WOULD be a lot of sitting, and I wouldn't even consider sitting it out. But if I take the rear seats out of the van I could put a cushy mattress back there and lie down, instead of sitting...or fully recline flat in the second seat row with a footrest and room to put my legs out completely straight.

    I could wait to decide after surgery, maybe, but only if we take the van out to Dallas in the first place, obviously. Well, I have some time to think about it. But yes, I could wait. Depending on what my husband wants to do.

    DFW is a very busy, very big airport and it does intimidate me quite a bit to go through there in such a delicate condition, although I'm assured many people do it. At least I would have a non-stop flight home, no connections to worry about.
    Stephanie, age 56
    Diagnosed age 8
    Milwaukee brace 9 years, no further treatment, symptom free and clueless until my 40s that curves could progress.
    Thoracolumbar curve 39 degrees at age 17
    Now somewhere around 58 degrees thoracic, 70 degrees thoracolumbar
    Surgeon Dr. Michael S. O'Brien, Baylor's Southwest Scoliosis Center, Dallas TX
    Bilateral laminectomies at L3 to L4, L4 to L5 and L5 to S1 on April 4, 2012
    Foramenotomies L3 through S1 in August 2014

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    reno,nevada
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    4,158
    Like Kathy says, I was also very afraid around people after my surgeries. I was delicate and raw, and didnít want anyone bumping into me.

    I had to fly my father years ago while he was wheelchair bound with ALS. When the plane broke, and we sat there for an hour, after realizing it was a hub, I started to blow flames in the airport. We were on another plane 2 minutes later. The logistics required in a situation like that are endless.

    Even though flying really is so much faster, these types of things can happen.

    If you can set up some foam in the back and have the passenger chair available, that would be the way to go. You can switch back and forth between sitting and laying down. Bring a boatload of soft down pillows. Try to stay on interstate highways.

    Nobody has ever posted about flying through turbulence going home after a surgery. That would be painful.
    Ed
    49 yr old male, now 61, the new 61...
    Pre surgery curves T70,L70
    ALIF/PLIF T2-Pelvis 01/29/08, 01/31/08 7" pelvic anchors BMP
    Dr Brett Menmuir St Marys Hospital Reno,Nevada

    Bending and twisting pics after full fusion
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/showt...on.&highlight=

    My x-rays
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...2&d=1228779214

    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...3&d=1228779258

  8. #8
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    Location
    Florida
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    Thank you, Ed, for a thoughtful post. The entire drive is Interstate except for the last 15 minutes. There is a bad stretch between Houston and the Lousiana border, but it's pretty good everywhere else.

    I have many airport nightmare stories of my own, and I do worry about those things. And April in Texas is thunderstorm/tornado time, so delays would not be surprising.
    Stephanie, age 56
    Diagnosed age 8
    Milwaukee brace 9 years, no further treatment, symptom free and clueless until my 40s that curves could progress.
    Thoracolumbar curve 39 degrees at age 17
    Now somewhere around 58 degrees thoracic, 70 degrees thoracolumbar
    Surgeon Dr. Michael S. O'Brien, Baylor's Southwest Scoliosis Center, Dallas TX
    Bilateral laminectomies at L3 to L4, L4 to L5 and L5 to S1 on April 4, 2012
    Foramenotomies L3 through S1 in August 2014

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    535
    When I flew to St. Louis last month to meet Dr. Lenke, we caught the 5:55a flight home to Atlanta. The airport was pretty empty at that time of the morning. We landed at 7:40a in ATL and all the travelers were going in the opposite direction (toward terminals) as compared to us leaving the airport early in the morning. Because it was easy in/out with the first flight of the day, that is our plan (at this juncture) for post-op.

    Warmly,
    Doreen
    44 years old at time of surgery, Atlanta GA

    Pre-Surgery Thorasic: 70 degrees, Pre-Surgery Lumbar: 68 degrees, lost 4 inches of height in 2011
    Post-Surgery curves ~10 degrees, regained 4 inches of height

    Posterior T3-sacrum & TLIF surgeries on Nov 28, 2011 with Dr. Lenke, St. Louis
    2 rods, 33 screws, 2 cages, 2 connectors, living a new life I never dreamed of!

    http://thebionicachronicles.blogspot.com/

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    New Bern, NC
    Posts
    1,445
    If you decide to fly, request a wheelchair the minute you get in the door at the airport. That way you won't have to worry about people bumping into you and you would be the first to get through security and the first to board the plane. It has to be a tough decision whether to fly or drive, especially a 20 hour drive . I don't know if I could have done either after my surgery. We only had a one hour drive home and that was bad enough for me. It was winter and I felt every pot hole in the city of Boston. Being able to set up a bed in the back of the vehicle would help a lot. I was still vomiting occasionally and having problems with my bowels. Just something to think about on the way home trying to find clean restrooms along the way if you drive. Good luck either way!
    Sally
    Diagnosed with severe lumbar scoliosis at age 65.
    Posterior Fusion L2-S1 on 12/4/2007. age 67
    Anterior Fusion L3-L4,L4-L5,L5-S1 on 12/19/2007
    Additional bone removed to decompress right side of L3-L4 & L4-L5 on 4/19/2010
    New England Baptist Hospital, Boston, MA
    Dr. Frank F. Rands735.photobucket.com/albums/ww360/butterflyfive/

    "In God We Trust" Happy moments, praise God. Difficult moments, seek God. Quiet moments, worship God. Painful moments, trust God. Every moment, thank God.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Lilburn, GA
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    201
    Good point! I would say drive rather than fly but 20 hours? I would definitely opt for flying and request special assistance. It doesn't cost a thing and you have piece of mind being shuttled to your gate, being first in security, on and off the plane. Did it with my mother who broke her foot while we were away. The airline was great about it.
    50 years old!!!!!
    Wore Milwaulkee Brace 1976-77
    Original curve 36 degrees ( measured in the 70s)
    Advanced to 61 degrees 01/2011
    Surgery 07/11/2011
    Fused T1-L2 (curve now in the 20s!)

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    225
    1250 miles is the distance, and 20 hours is actual driving time, not including stops for gas, bathroom, etc.

    I realize I can get tons of help at the airport. Still, a hard decision.
    Stephanie, age 56
    Diagnosed age 8
    Milwaukee brace 9 years, no further treatment, symptom free and clueless until my 40s that curves could progress.
    Thoracolumbar curve 39 degrees at age 17
    Now somewhere around 58 degrees thoracic, 70 degrees thoracolumbar
    Surgeon Dr. Michael S. O'Brien, Baylor's Southwest Scoliosis Center, Dallas TX
    Bilateral laminectomies at L3 to L4, L4 to L5 and L5 to S1 on April 4, 2012
    Foramenotomies L3 through S1 in August 2014

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