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Thread: Getting Ready for Surgery

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    5

    Question Getting Ready for Surgery

    I am consulting with several surgeons for second and third opinions and leaning toward surgery to stop degeneration. I have chronic muscle pain--lower left back where the muscles are stretched due to curves--but more recently one or more nerves has been pinched. The burning feeling around my rib cage, which comes and goes, can be awful and I am determined to avoid a debilitated old age (I'm 62).

    My question to those who have had surgery: what are the best things I can do to get through the surgery and rehab more easily? I am fairly fit but could improve either aerobic endurance or muscle tone. I could also stand to lose 20-25 lbs. If I have surgery in about 3 months, would this help? Or is there some other pre-op activities or preparations that helped you? Is there something you wish you had done to get ready physically, or something you're glad you did?

    I'd appreciate the advice!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
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    3,261
    cjsigmon

    I think you're on the right track re fitness. Up your aerobic exercise to strengthen your heart and walk as often and as hard as you can, leading up to surgery. You are fortunate that you can do this, because some patients can't, due to pain. Aside from the fact it will stand you in good stead for your recovery, it will increase bone. I had a bone density test a year before surgery and a year after surgery, I had increased my bone density at an age when losing bone is fairly normal. That's got to be good for our old age!

    The other thing is to have every possible thing organised so you need not stress about a thing. That way you can put all your energy into healing. Find out where you can get aids and help such as grabbers, shower chairs, home help etc. before the surgery so they are only a phone call away if you need them. Thank everyone for their offers of help and be prepared to take them up on it if and when the time comes. (That part may be hard, as most of us are very independent.) But you will find that people will want to help, if asked.

    And don't forget diet. Yes, losing a few pounds will help, it will increase your feelings of well-being, as well as taking a load off your back once up and about. But if you restrict your intake, make sure your nutritional needs are taken care of.

    Wishing you all the very best. Sounds like you're on the threshold of a brand new life!
    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

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    213
    Hi cjsigmon

    I agree with JenniferG, get as physically fit as you can before the surgery. They also should be doing some bone density tests as well.

    One very important point is to get one of the best surgeons you can--Linda R., the moderator of this forum has a list of surgeons who have done this surgery numerous times with good results.

    I had my surgery about a year ago at age 57: I selected surgeon from the list and a surgery was done in a hospital that had a dedicated spinal surgery wing. The staff was very knowledgeable how to handle people going through this surgery. That was the best move I made in this surgery.

    Like Jennifer said, you will need people at home for the first week you are back from the hospital. Some people choose a rehab place--if you go that route, the best advice I can give is make sure they have physical therapists on hand to work with you the day you check in and thereafter. Not sure if many go that route in that family members and friends can have a home setup ahead of time for when you come home.

    There are lots of posts in this forum on what you need. There is a list--very helpful.

    Best wishes! Keep us posted!

    Dollie
    Discovered scoliosis when 15 years old.
    Wore Milwaulkee Brace for 1.5 years.
    Top curve 85 degrees, bottom curve 60 degrees

    Surgery completed August 23, 2011 (during an earthquake, can you believe that?)
    Dr. Charles Edwards, II
    The Spine Center at Mercy Hospital in Baltimore, MD
    Before and after xrays:
    http://www.valley-designs.com/myspine

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Indianapolis area
    Posts
    966
    It sounds like you are on the right track. I was told not to diet before my surgery because my surgeon didn't want any nutritional compromises. However, if you just focus on eating healthy and exercising, you may lose some weight just from that. That's what I'm doing in recovery, as I'm trying to lose about 10 pounds. If you haven't done so already, get Scoliosis Surgery: The Definitive Patient's Reference Guide, by David Wolpert. It's invaluable. And don't rush in to this--take your time to prepare. It's a huge thing, and a few extra months probably won't make a big difference in your back.

    Best wishes,
    Evelyn
    age 44
    80* thoracolumbar; 40* thoracic
    Reduced to ~16* thoracolumbar; ~0* thoracic
    Surgery 3/14/12 with Dr. Lenke, T4 to S1 with pelvic fixation
    Not "confused" anymore, but don't know how to change my username.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Waterloo, IL
    Posts
    1,691
    I was 60 when I had my surgery (20 months ago) and had a smooth recovery. I attribute it to having an excellent surgeon, Dr. Lenke, and in working really hard to get in the best condition possible prior to surgery. I already worked out on a regular basis, but kicked it up a few notches the year before my surgery adding more cardio. I bought a pedometer and set daily goals after surgery. You will find lots of support on this forum.
    Karen

    Surgery-Jan. 5, 2011-Dr. Lenke
    Fusion T-4-sacrum-2 cages/5 osteotomies
    70 degree thoracolumbar corrected to 25
    Rib Hump-GONE!
    Age-60 at the time of surgery
    Now 66
    Avid Golfer & Tap Dancer
    Retired Kdgn. Teacher

    See photobucket link for:
    Video of my 1st Day of Golf Post-Op-3/02/12-Bradenton, FL
    Before and After Picture of back 1/7/11
    tap dancing picture at 10 mos. post op 11/11/11-I'm the one on the right.
    http://s1119.photobucket.com/albums/k630/pottoff2/

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    5

    Thank you!

    Thank you for the thoughtful, supportive responses. I was pretty sure that better fitness and maybe shedding a few pounds prior to surgery (healthfully) would be beneficial, and I think you have all confirmed this. I am tentatively thinking of surgery after Thanksgiving so have 3 months to up my exercise level. I am interviewing surgeons here in Phoenix. I will continue to look through the Forum here to get further information, but I'm encouraged. I'm scared of the things I currently do that I might not be able to after spinal fusion--yoga and weight training are my favorites. But the alternative--a possibly crippled future--is worse.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Yacolt, WA
    Posts
    1,527
    [QUOTE=cjsigmon;142635]I am consulting with several surgeons for second and third opinions and leaning toward surgery to stop degeneration. I have chronic muscle pain--lower left back where the muscles are stretched due to curves--but more recently one or more nerves has been pinched. The burning feeling around my rib cage, which comes and goes, can be awful and I am determined to avoid a debilitated old age (I'm 62).

    Hi and welcome! I have not had surgery and am 66, but have only had the diagnosis of scoliosis, arthriti, and degenerative disc disease for less than a year. While I do have some pretty uncomfortable days, I'm in the same boat that you are in worrying about what I will look like when I am 70. I think that my curve has changed in the last 9 months and that is worrisome. Wish that I had a crystal ball! On one hand there is the risk of surgery and then there is the risk of not having surgery....bummer. Keep in touch! I am always looking for post among our age group because we are different than those in their 20's. What kind of curve do you have and other spine problems?
    Best of luck! Susan
    Adult Onset Degenerative Scoliosis @65, 25* T & 36* L w/ 11.2 cm coronal balance; T kyphosis 90*; Severe disc degen T & L stenosis

    2013: T3- S1 Fusion w/ ALIF L4-S1/XLIF L2-4, PSF T4-S1 in 2 surgeries
    2014: Hernia @ ALIF repaired; Emergency screw removal surgery for Spinal Cord Injury at T4,5 sec to PJK
    2015: Revision Broken Bil T & L rods and no fusion: 2 revision surgeries; hardware P. Acnes infection
    2016: Ant/Lat Lumbar diskectomy w/ 4 cages + BMP + harvested bone + prayer

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    3,745
    every surgeon i consulted with said they preferred to operate
    on patients who were on the thin side...said it made things
    easier.....
    best of luck...hope surgery and recovery are uneventful and smooth....

    jess

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Yacolt, WA
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrnyc View Post
    every surgeon i consulted with said they preferred to operate
    on patients who were on the thin side...said it made things
    easier.....
    best of luck...hope surgery and recovery are uneventful and smooth....

    jess
    That makes sense, Jess. Now I will focus on the last 15#. My surgeon said that he doesn't like to do surgery on old [he used another word, but that was what he meant] ladies that eat like a bird and don't eat well. I think that he was saying to have a good quality diet. That also makes sense! Susan
    Adult Onset Degenerative Scoliosis @65, 25* T & 36* L w/ 11.2 cm coronal balance; T kyphosis 90*; Severe disc degen T & L stenosis

    2013: T3- S1 Fusion w/ ALIF L4-S1/XLIF L2-4, PSF T4-S1 in 2 surgeries
    2014: Hernia @ ALIF repaired; Emergency screw removal surgery for Spinal Cord Injury at T4,5 sec to PJK
    2015: Revision Broken Bil T & L rods and no fusion: 2 revision surgeries; hardware P. Acnes infection
    2016: Ant/Lat Lumbar diskectomy w/ 4 cages + BMP + harvested bone + prayer

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    El Centro, CA & Baja California, Mexico
    Posts
    193

    losing weight and exercising

    Both are great idea but it depends on how to define 20-25 lbs. According to the height (after losing inches) I am supposed to be according to a standard table that sometimes is obsolete or realistic.

    I have never ever exercised because of one excuse or another. Everytime I did, it would bring on so much more pain (not soreness) that leaves me in beds for several days.

    There are many women out there who are always complaining that they are fat but they are a size 4, tall and beatiful.

    I see myself as dumpy and short. My limbs are skinny. All is concentrated on my mid section and I could never wear anything with a waist. My weight at 18 differs from 40 but not really changed since.

    When Dr Bridwell said during his last consult, you will get a small correction but good enough for the rest of your life, we are only correcting the lower curve as the upper should be ok if well supported (and that is at around 80+ degrees), you will gain an inch or two not all, and you will gain a waistline.

    I am 62 and since my late teens, I could never wear a belt. One waist was concaved and the other convex, nothing major that would show up that a business suit would not hide.

    I never knew that I am not fat and dumpy and thus no waistline. It is my curve making my organs look for space to fill.

    Dr Bridwell only prescibed a 2 months dosis of vitamin D as it helps during recovery for bone fusion. And, I live in Mexico where the sun is always out!
    Gardenia
    Baja California, Mexico & El Centro, Ca
    pre-surgery 75 and 89 - post ?
    Dr. Bridwell Nov 27, 2012 @Barnes Jewish @62yrs
    T11 to Sacrum Dural leak at L2 & L3 ccmail4g@gmail.com

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