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Thread: 14 yr old son surgery in june questions

  1. #1
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    Mar 2005
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    14 yr old son surgery in june questions

    Hello. My 14 year old was diagnosed with a double thoracic curve two years ago, and it has progressed to where the dr says surgery is necessary (56/48). It is scheduled for the end of June.

    I would like to hear from parents of sons who have been through this surgery. I would especially like to hear about athletic boys and how they have handled any restrictions. Sexism is not playing into this, it is just most of the info out there is related to girls, and 14 year old boys kind of want to know about other boys going thru what they are going thru.

    Thank you so much. This board seems as if it is filled with caring folks willing to share their experiences and advice. Thanks again.

  2. #2
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    Jul 2004
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    Central Texas
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    Gigi,

    My son is 16 and had surgery in Nov. I found his curve in June because he said his back hurt. When I looked I knew it was bad. He had an S curve and the curve was too far advanced for bracing. Looking at him then you really couldn't tell (although as Nov. approached, he began to stand more and more crooked).

    The surgeon we saw in July said that we needed to schedule his surgery by the end of the year. We scheduled, but I still was hoping for a miracle and/or not totally convinced that we had to do it that quickly. However, the curve continued to worsen and over the summer we discovered that his lungs were being affected, so we knew that we needed go ahead and do it.

    He is fused T3 to L3 and has two rods in there but he has quickly adjusted to his new more rigid back. Sometimes, I think he totally forgets and, of course, THAT makes me nervous since he still has some restrictions.

    He never talked much about the surgery and still doesn't, but I would be very happy to answer any questions you have. Unfortunately, I can't really address your biggest concern since my son is very much the computer geek - not athletic -and any restrictions he has had have not bothered him very much. In general, the whole thing was more traumatic for us as his parents than for him.

    This message board was a life saver, so feel free to post and ask away. You've come to a great place of support.

    Susan

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    32

    hi

    i may not be a boy but tell your son that i am going to surgery also at the end of june


    Quote Originally Posted by Gigi
    Hello. My 14 year old was diagnosed with a double thoracic curve two years ago, and it has progressed to where the dr says surgery is necessary (56/48). It is scheduled for the end of June.

    I would like to hear from parents of sons who have been through this surgery. I would especially like to hear about athletic boys and how they have handled any restrictions. Sexism is not playing into this, it is just most of the info out there is related to girls, and 14 year old boys kind of want to know about other boys going thru what they are going thru.

    Thank you so much. This board seems as if it is filled with caring folks willing to share their experiences and advice. Thanks again.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    New Zealand
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    That's tricky, of course, because there are so few boys with idiopathic scoli, it makes it hard to find many to get stories from.

    There's one boy over on spinekids who just had his surgery in February. He lives in New Zealand like us. He didn't specifically mention being sporty, but his picture looks like your average Kiwi bloke, and they tend to be fairly sport-mad. He might have something useful to say. He goes by viper2525 over there.

    To some extent you should be able to extrapolate from the experience of the girls who have had the operation. There are a lot of them, of course, and they tend to report some trouble getting back into their sports after the procedure -- fatigue, stiffness and difficulty adjusting to their body's new balance. All the adults keep telling them that they had major surgery a few months ago so OF COURSE they're stiff and sore and get tired easily, but patience is not one of the teenage virtues.

    Of course these early returns are for comparatively non-jarring sports, like dance and swimming. There are some sports where you're not allowed to start playing again for a long period after surgery -- horseback riding and high contact sports like rugby, for example, are restricted for a full year, I have heard. If your boy plays American football (are you from the U.S.?) that would surely be restricted for a long time, possibly permanently.

    In theory, I would expect that one could eventually do anything after spinal fusion that one's reduced flexibility would allow (which depends on the length of the fusion), barring truly extreme contact sports, but that kids need to be prepared for a long, slow, and almost certainly frustrating period of recuperation and rebuilding stamina and skill.

    Patricia
    Scoli Mum from New Zealand
    Daughter Caitlin's surgery scheduled for 2nd May

  5. #5
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    New Jersey
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    Hi there. My son is 16 and scheduled for surgery on June 22. He doesn't talk about it too much but I think he's as prepared as he can be. He isn't into sports but he is working with a personal trainer to work on getting more fit to be better prepared for surgery. He's 6'2" (by our measurement - 6' by the doctors) and weighs 220.

    I keep asking our surgeon "are you sure he can be treated as a pediatric patient?" since he is the size of a full grown man. But, he is 16 and is still growing so he is considered a pediatric patient.

    Where are you having the surgery and who is your surgeon?

  6. #6
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    Mar 2004
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    ny
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    hi susan (bills mom)
    so you are still peeking around here LOL. I haven't seen you on here in a while and always think of how you guys are doing. I am assuming Bill is still doing good. Nicole is doing really good, no complaints so i'm happy about that. As a matter of fact she hasn't even complained about sitting in the desk at school in a while. Is Bill out of gym for the whole year?
    Jennifer

  7. #7
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    New Zealand
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    Quote Originally Posted by carolnj
    He's 6'2" (by our measurement - 6' by the doctors) and weighs 220.
    And my wee girl is 5'1" and weighs 85 pounds. Cracks me up to find that they're both paediatric patients.
    Patricia
    Scoli Mum from New Zealand
    Daughter Caitlin's surgery 2nd May 2005
    Posterior fusion T3 - L1

  8. #8
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    Mar 2005
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    this is so helpful

    Thanks for the responses; I am glad I found this site.

    We live in Oregon and Dr. Keenan will do the surgery the end of June. We set that date so Griff will not miss the end of his eighth grade year. Yes, he is very sporty, and not being able to play (American) football again has been pretty devastating to him. He will be able to play basketball and run track, but not until next spring.

    Even without being that into sports, I imagine the natural banging around boys do is something to be very cautious about. Did you find that with your son, Susan? And how does he deal iwth not talking about the surgery? Does he seem ok or how does he deal with questions or issues?

    Patricia, good luck with your daughter's surgery. I like your Kiwi bloke phrase; I may have to start using that with my sons. What is spinekids?

    Carol; that sounds like your son is dealing with it by having the personal trainer help him get what control he can over the situation. Smart idea, but I find it interesting these boys don't like to talk much about the surgery.

    Roxie: I will tell Griff about you! I don't know if I can convince him to come onto a site like this or not.

    Maybe that spinekids site?

    Merci Merci

    Gigi

  9. #9
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    Jan 2005
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    Northeastern Oregon
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    Gigi,
    I am from Oregon too. My daughter just had surgery at Shriner's in Portland on 3/15/05. Dr. Krajbich told her at her pre-op that she should be able to play basketball next November. Which was a relief for her since she will be a junior in high school. So, tell you son there is life after surgery. Or, at least that is what we call it at our house.

    Where is your son having his surgery done?

    Don't be fooled about girls. I have three of them, all with Scheuermann's Kyphosis/scoliosis. They can rough house pretty good, of course with dad's help. They are ranch raised and can keep up with the best of the boys. I tell the boys when they come courting not to make the girls mad, because they may find themselves hog tied in the barn. But, on the other hand, I can get them dressed in formals and they can be young ladies too.

    Any way, keep us posted on your son. It isn't abnormal for him to not want to talk about surgery. Crystal didn't really talk about it until we went to her pre-op appointment. Then she finally opened up and asked lots of questions.

    We are praying for you guys.

    'til later,
    Nikki

  10. #10
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    Feb 2004
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    New Zealand
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gigi
    What is spinekids?

    www.spinekids.com is a scoliosis site run by some medical people (based in the U.S. I believe). Their message board is very much oriented towards scoli kids, as opposed to this one, which has a higher proportion of adult scoli people. It's an extremely active site, populated by a bunch of truly wonderful teenagers who have scoli and know exactly what it's like to be in a brace or worrying about, preparing for, or recovering from surgery. They talk about that stuff, but they also talk a lot about ordinary teenage things (check out the thread about how Abbi should get her hair cut...hard to get more normal than that!). There are lots of parents active on the forum as well, and we often weigh in with advice and opinions and so forth, but it's really a place for the kids. If your son is interested, he'd be made extremely welcome there. There's not so many boys, of course, so they get a lot of attention.


    Cheers.
    Patricia
    Scoli Mum from New Zealand
    Daughter Caitlin's surgery 2nd May 2005
    Posterior fusion T3 - L1

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    20

    spinekids and girls

    Hi Nikki and Patricia. You all must be online right now; this is very cool.

    Thanks for the info on spinekids. I will see if I can get Griff to take a look!

    Nikki; my youngest is a girl (sons 16 & 14 daughter 11) and I know girls are actually tougher in a lot of ways! But having teens, I am sure you know it makes Griff feel a bit better to know he isn't the only boy out there to deal with this.

    I am glad your daughter had the surgery soon enough it doesn't interfere with basketball! Griff is going to have to miss his frosh season, but that isn't as bad as interfering with your junior year. My oldest will be a jr, too, adn it was hard enuf last summer when a surgery he had on his arm kept him from basketball and football camps.

    What is your dr recommendation on how she ease back into activity?

    We are doing surgery at Legacy Emmanuel in Portland-we live in Salem.

    Where does she go to hs? I see you are in northeastern or-

    thnx again

  12. #12
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    Jan 2005
    Location
    Northeastern Oregon
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    515
    Gigi,
    We live about 18 miles north of LaGrande. Our girls go to Imbler High School. It is a very small rural school, we are a 1A school. I used to go to North Salem High School, of course many years ago. However, I graduated from Cascade Senior High in Turner. My husband used to live in Canby. We still have lots of family and friends in the Willamette Valley.

    Crystal is in a brace right now, just to support her fusion. So, her movement is pretty limited. She sees the doctor on April 20th and he will discuss what she is allowed to do then. Right now she can't lift anything over 10 pounds, which makes even opening a door a challenge. We'll know more on the 20th.

    You son will have an advantage going into this surgery by being an athlete. Have him keep himself in the best condition possible until he goes for surgery. Crystal was in excellent condition going into her surgery. The doctors told us that was a big reason for her getting back on her feet so quick.

    Can I suggest to you to buy one thing for your sons trip to the hospital. Buy him a body pillow. Crystal's came in so handy to use as a support for the length of her body when they would turn her one her side.

    Keep us posted on your sons progress. You are in our prayers.

    'til later,
    Nikki

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Central Texas
    Posts
    62
    Hi Jennifer,

    Yes I lurk here often! I check in to see how everyone is doing and, on the rare occasion that I feel I can offer something, I post. I remember how awful those first few weeks were after Billís diagnosis and how much support I got from this board. I just want to be able to do the same for others if possible.

    Glad to hear all is well at your house. Bill also is doing great. To answer your question, he is in marching band, so he doesnít have to take PE. He wonít march again until August and Iím sure the only problem heíll have then is the Texas heat!

    Gigi,

    I asked Bill this morning why he never talked about his back before surgery and he said that he didnít think it was very interesting! I also think that he could actually forget that it was a problem. He never saw it and was used to how it felt. (He was very shocked when he saw his x-rays and photos of his back.) He seldom talks about it now, but will when asked, show his scar or answer questions, but truly to him, it was just one of lifeís adventures Ė something he had to go through and in retrospect not that big of a deal. (Honest! To him. Of course to me it continues to be one of lifeís biggest deals.)

    I did worry about him going back to school and getting bumped especially because he didnít want to leave his classes early and itís a fairly large school (2000+) so the hallways are crowded and not everyone knows that he shouldnít be bumped. But so far no problems. The return to normalcy has been much easier than I worried it would be.

    He can now lift up to 20 pounds and wear a backpack. And he can contort himself when playing video games to very odd positions all the while keeping his back straight and not twisting. Kids are very resilient!

    Just to help give you a feel for his recovery - although I know all kids are different:

    He had surgery on a Wednesday and came home on Monday. By the time we got home from the hospital he was able to get out of bed, out of a chair, up and down steps, and shower all by himself. (Granted he did it all very slowly, and initially, with difficulty, but he was not the invalid I expected.) In less than a week at home, he was off of all pain meds including tylenol. Within one week, he was able to sit and do schoolwork for at least an hour a day. Within three weeks, he was able to sit for half a school day, but the district wouldnít allow him to come half days without getting marked absent for the other half day, so we kept him home until after Christmas break and he returned full days. (He missed six weeks of school and missing school was the high point for him.) He did not donate his own bone for the fusion and I think that helped speed his recovery.

    His next follow up is in May Ė six months post op. The surgeon said that most likely he will release him at that time.

    So hang in there, continue to do what you're doing but try try try to NOT worry!

    Susan

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    ny
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    554
    hi susan
    it's good to hear how good bill is doing. Out of the three of us whose kids had surgery the same day, he from the beginning had an amazing recovery. I remember he was going to the movies and nicole was still not out of the house yet. He did great and i'm glad everything is still very good.
    I definitely agree that these kids don't think it's the biggest deal to had gone through this because nicole never talked about it before the surgery either, but for different reasons other then it wasn't interesting, it was because she didn't want to have the surgery and i think was in denial about the whole thing and she doesn't talk about it now either and when she sees me on the message board she'll say "you still go on there, it's over mom", but to me it's still a big deal also.
    Well glad to hear things are well and stay in touch
    Jennifer

  15. #15
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    Mar 2005
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    This conitnues to be very helpful!

    Susan and Nikki: thanks so much for your letters. I am reading them to Griff, and he seems to be interested. His dad did comment tho that Griff is already very slow getting around the house and takes really long showers, so how will we know if it is his back or just him! :-)

    Susan: thanks so much for asking your Bill (my husband's name is Bill) about his view of his experience. That means a lot. Since Griff is having his surgery during the summer, he doesn't "get" to miss school. He will be 2 months post surgery when school starts in September. But I never even thought about a backpack! When was your son allowed to carry his?

    Nikki: the body pillow sounds great. Where can I get one? And in this very small world, we have a lot of friends who have kids who go to Cascade! My oldest, who is 16, played on a tournament basketball team when he was in middle school-the Cascade Cougars-with a number of kids from Cascade. When did you graduate?
    Why did your dr recommend a brace after surgery?

    And Patricia; hope all is well with you

    Thanks again

    Gigi

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