I had surgery at 11. Here I am reporting in as an adult 35 years later!

This wonderful forum has such a wealth of info for parents and kids. I wish something like this existed when I was a kid.

My history: Scoli surgery in 1979 at age 11 in Albany NY. I had spent 10 days in the hospital. Wore a turtle cast for 9 months (during which I had my first ski lesson!) and then a milwaukee brace after that, for i think all of 7th grade. The brace afterward was due to my age, I was still so young and still had a lot of growing. Crankshafting was a major concern. I've got a fusion from T3 to L4 with a single harrington rod. The only true long running residual side effect from the surgery is a crazy little neruoma somewhere in the center of my fusion which has both an electric jolt and a band of numbness coming out of it. I can't get a shoulder/neck massage because of this neuroma, but I've just discovered that acupuncture helps calm it down.

Back in 1979, post surgery, I was sent packing with nothing but a short list of restrictions and an index card with some exercises to do. And that's about it. I was told that once my fusion was solid, I was good to go. My doctor could not have been more truthful. Kids, once you are fused solid you are good to go! You will be able to get back out there and rock it! Just don't worry your mom too much in the process... ; )

The surgery has never stopped me. I started skiing at age 12, about 7 months after my surgery, yes while still wearing my plaster cast. I recently started surfing at age 40. Life's adventures have included waterskiing, diving (these were my only real restrictions by my doctor, I had to wait a whole year), backpacking, horse riding, skateboarding. I've done cartwheels (both on purpose, and accidentally while skiing), figure skated, played golf. I swam the butterfly for my junior high swim team. I still surprise myself with how much further I can push this whole fusion thing. Hello, did I say learning to surf! Just so you know, there are people out there who invent things to modify sports gear for people with bad backs, and you can customize gear for individual stance and balance needs. It's okay to modify your gear to make sports easier.

OK, yes you should watch out for tasks that involve too much bending, pushing, straining and lifting or activities that are too jolting to the body. Trust your body. It will clearly let you know when it doesn't like something, and then, simply don't do it. I don't like sledding anymore, or sitting in a speedboat when the driver is jumping wakes. Some things I used to do when I was a teenager, I no longer do, but that's just getting old.

Exercising - You need a strong stomach. Since we all know sit-ups are going to be a permanent challenge, you can get 6pack abs with just pushups and planks. Basic pushups are easy to do, they build strong core and arm muscles, and burn fat. Yoga in sports is uber important as you need to be flexible and supple enough to absorb energy to avoid injury. Plus a solid balanced flexible body. I've always had tight hamstrings, and I'm sure that's a long-running result of my surgery. I definitely recall being shocked that I could not touch my knees(!) after my surgery way back then… Now I can touch the floor…. I can also pop up off the floor onto my feet from laying flat on my stomach in a single motion (this is a necessary surf move). I've worked hard to get to this point, and you can too.

I do jump on skis, but I'm careful to pick jumps where I've pre- scoped the landing to be smooth, and use my knees for the landings. I also hunt out the little whoop-de-do's on the trail sides and will find anywhere I can to launch myself a foot or so in the air. I ski moguls, snaking my way inbetween them. I have had many high speed crashes, I used to have a love for speed. I have wrecked and injured other parts of my body, but my spine remains solid. I do avoid headers in soccer and things like that. My doctor insists I keep going, and not stop even this many years later! Words such as "take it easy" and "maybe you should cut back" or "be cautious", do not get mentioned at all. I'm 46. I've got arthritis now in my lower back but that's not surprising. Go get 'em kids. Enjoy life to the fullest!