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Thread: Suddenly feeling permanently straight?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    225

    Suddenly feeling permanently straight?

    What's it like, long fusion people, the first time you feel a body that won't bend anymore? Or do you get used to it very gradually since you are in such a fog from heavy medication the first several days?

    I just have this fear of coming out of surgery and trying to move and suddenly feeling this new body that doesn't bend, doesn't twist, and knowing that there is no going back, and feeling trapped! Like stuck in a permanent body cast, or back in my Milwaukee brace that will never come off. I don't have a choice, I have to do this, but I wondered what it's like? Do you feel trapped, or do you adjust as the meds wear off and not feel such a sudden drastic change? I haven't seen anyone talk about this, so there must be a reason.
    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
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Chelsea, MI
    Posts
    53
    Dear Mojo's Mom,
    Hi - I had surgery in August of 2010 - I am fused T1 to sacrum. I can only speak for myself, but I honestly feel like I have a lot of flexibility. For the first year post op, I was very cautious w/ my movements, and mindful to keep my back straight (no bending, no twisting). But now that those restrictions have been lifted, I can twist pretty far (!) and bend all the way to the floor.
    It is the case that my spine was fused in two spots before this most recent surgery, so I already did have limited flexibility in my spine, but I don't experience any stiffness or restricted movement at all! So I hope that is encouraging for you...
    take care,
    Nancy
    Age 58
    Surgery w/ Dr Lenke August 23, 2010
    original curves 91 thoracic, 86 lumbar
    fused T1 to sacrum, new curves 50 and 45

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    225
    Nancy, that's tremendously encouraging, thank you...it's not the long term flexibility I'm concerned about, but that initial reaction when you feel the "new you". I have a great deal of hip flexibility (can do full splits, for example), so I'm hoping long term that will help a lot.
    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

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    7,120
    Both times I had surgery, it felt normal right away. I expected that the feeling of not being able to bend as far forward as previously would be abrupt, but was not the case for me.
    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

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    3,263
    Stephanie, your post gave me a giggle!

    It's funny, but I don't remember any strangeness, as one would expect under the circumstances. The first time I stood up, I noticed being taller and instantly loved it. The most spectacular, amazing thing was looking in the mirror naked that first time. And almost as good, putting day clothes on and seeing how much better they looked. Now that was amazing, because I'd given that part of the surgery, very little thought.
    Surgery March 3, 2009 at almost 58, now 63.
    Dr. Askin, Brisbane, Australia
    T4-Pelvis, Posterior only
    Osteotomies and Laminectomies
    Was 68 degrees, now 22 and pain free

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    west midlands, UK
    Posts
    152
    Im fused T2-L4 and the 1st time I stood up I felt like I had an ironing board strapped to my back, but you do get used to the feeling.Its not a feeling of being 'trapped' or anything.You do feel incredibly upright but its not an unpleasant feeling.

    When I looked in the full length mirror once I was home I was amazed-I couldnt believe how straight I looked and I had a waist! I felt so happy.

    During recovery there are times when you get the 'ironing board' strapped to your back feeling but its usually if I had been on my feet for too long or walked too far-it does gradually ease.

    Now im 13mths post op im bending more and its getting easier all the time-somehow your body just adjusts to the situation-its amazing how this happens.
    Fused T2-L4 with costoplasty on 3/11/10

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Bend, Oregon
    Posts
    265
    Right after surgery, there is so much going on that you don't really pay much attention to feeling straight or stiff. You are dealing with pain medication schedules, bowel movements, sleep, etc. You are pretty out of it that first week in the hospital. There are a lot of distractions. And you aren't very mobile or active yet, so you don't have much to compare to. The only time I really noticed it was getting in and out of bed. I still log roll to this day!

    Besides, the beauty of your new, straighter body is so amazing, that you can't help but keep looking at it in wonder! After years of living with being all crooked, it is surreal. And wonderful!

    I also feared feeling like I was in a brace like the old days. It is nothing like that. Are you going to wear a brace after surgery? I had to for a couple months. I felt so free after I was out of it! So no, it is nothing like the feeling of being confined in that brace. You won't feel trapped!

    The first part of recovery is tough. You want to get better and feel normal right away. Be patient. There is a point where I felt better enough to feel frustrated, (and bored) but not better enough to start normal activities. That was the hardest part for me. But there are many of us on this forum that have gone about our days with very little change. It just takes time. I am also very flexible and was able to paint and trim toe nails, paint the bathrooms, put on shoes with ease, even at a couple months post op. So you have that advantage going in. Being active, it would have put even more of a cramp on my lifestyle than for non-active people; if fusion was that bad. Have you seen golfnut's recent picture of her tap dancing at less than a year post op? Ed tree skiiing? My climbing a huge Mayan temple at 6 months? It truly isn't as confining as you imagine. But it is good to be realistic, also. So a little concern is ok. You will do fine.

    At almost a year post op, I am still aware of it all the time, but it doesn't really bother me or confine me in any way. It is just different. Kind of like new shoes. They feel kinda weird at first, and you are aware of them being new and feeling different. Eventually they break in and you stop thinking about them!!
    Jenee'-52
    Bend, Oregon

    Braced 3 years in high school
    Lumbar 70'+ Thoracic 70'+
    I had 3" shrinkage in 6 months...

    Surgery Jan 10, 2011
    9 hours
    T3 to S1 with pelvic fixation
    Both curves now 35'

    Possible revison for Flatback Syndrome
    Non-fusion
    Loose/broken hardware-awaiting CT results

    Here is the link to my before and after pics..
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/showt......&highlight=

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Lilburn, GA
    Posts
    201

    Yep, had that trapped feeling!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mojo's Mom View Post
    What's it like, long fusion people, the first time you feel a body that won't bend anymore? Or do you get used to it very gradually since you are in such a fog from heavy medication the first several days?

    I just have this fear of coming out of surgery and trying to move and suddenly feeling this new body that doesn't bend, doesn't twist, and knowing that there is no going back, and feeling trapped! Like stuck in a permanent body cast, or back in my Milwaukee brace that will never come off. I don't have a choice, I have to do this, but I wondered what it's like? Do you feel trapped, or do you adjust as the meds wear off and not feel such a sudden drastic change? I haven't seen anyone talk about this, so there must be a reason.
    Of course the first six weeks, moving wasn't an option. Then came the realization that I couldn't sit hunched over anymore and yes, it was a "trapped" feeling. That feeling slowly went away and now that I am more mobile, I don't feel that way at all anymore. But, believe me, you won't have that feeling coming out of surgery. You'll be amazed at how quickly your body adjusts. I was.

    What are your fusion levels going to be?
    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!)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    225
    Marina, my fusion levels are in my signature. Probably T5 to S1 with pelvic fixation.

    Thanks to all of you for very helpful, insightful answers. Jenee, I have NOT seen your climbing photo, although I've seen the tap dancing and Ed's skiing. I'm very optimistic about long term results, but it's that first reaction that I was curious about. You have all given me your experiences and that helps very much.

    I am very active now, working at trying to get into the best possible shape for surgery, within the limitations of my pain.
    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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