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Thread: Doctor Scare Tactics

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    109

    Doctor Scare Tactics

    I am 27 and was told at age 18 that my curves would not progress. They were 18/18. When I got checked again at age 22 they were 26/25 and now at 27 they are 32/30. Now, I want to do everything I can to NOT have surgery. I am trying alternative therapies first. HOwever, I know that my scoliosis , if not corrected now, will continue to worsen as I age. I spoke with my orthopedist about this. Ever the CARING doctor (snort) he brushed me off. He told me "you look fine" and I said "It is not just about my appearence, I am in pain and I am worried about the future." He said I should never have surgery because I faced a substantial risk of "DYING on the table." He phrased that like it would absolutely happen to me. Now I am of otherwise good health. No heart or lung problems, not overweight, dno diabetes or anything like that. I don't know why he felt the need to scare the heck out of me by saying I would possibly DIE from the surgery.

    Now, I had surgery before (abdominal surgery for GI issues) and I KNOW death is a risk of ANY surgery. Of course! But the risk if a person is healthy and abides by doctors orders, receives proper care etc. is very minimal.

    AmI wrong to be angry at the way I was treated?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Posts
    185
    Unless there is another reason such as a co-existing medical condition, it sounds like scare-mongering. I am your age and have experienced progression of my curve in adulthood (although after surgery, but that was because they wern't able to 'finish the job').
    There was no one who could tell me if my curve was going to keep progressing, but I worked out that given the trend of it progressing, it wouldn't necissarily stop on its own. And any solution you try has to be life-long to maintain.
    I chose surgery, and I am comfortable with that.
    There is still a strong myth out there that scoliosis isn't painful and surgery is cosmetic, but look on this forum and you'll see otherwise. There are things that you can do to minimise pain, but progression is a different matter.
    Good luck, and find a new Dr.
    1994 curve at age 13, 70 degrees, untreated
    2000 Anterior fusion with instrumentation T9-L2, corrected to 36 degrees, 14 degree angle between fused and un-fused thoracic spine.
    2007 26 degrees junctional scoliosis
    Revision surgery, 6th December 2007 T4 to L3, Posterior approach.
    msandham.blogspot.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    109
    thanks ! i am gioing to try to avoid surgery at all costs. but i am in pain all day every day and do excercises for the pain etc. im glad things worked out for you!


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    369
    Mobee:
    If I were you I'd see a new doctor. To scare you like that is unnecessary and cruel.
    Ruth
    Ruth, 50 years old (s-shaped 30 degree scoliosis) with degenerative disc disease, married to Mike. Mother to two children - Son 18 and daughter 14. Both have idiopathic scoliosis. Son (T38, L29) has not needed surgery to date. Daughter (March 08 - T62, L63).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Madison, Wisconsin
    Posts
    311
    I would also see a new doctor. As I posted a long time ago, my sister-in-law is in med school and I read up on scoliosis in her med school books, which clearly said that scoliosis did NOT cause pain. HA. Amazing. So, I have a lot of respect for doctors, BUT many are incredibly ignorant of scoliosis.

    I encourage you to see another doctor and try a lot of alternative therapies. With that said, I am 28 and am 4 months post-op. I suffered pain for 15 years and am glad I did the surgery. I'm still in pain, but am not getting the kind of pain I suffered before surgery. Most people will tell you that 30 degrees is not enough to warrant surgery, but I would watch it (see a doctor every year) and try to do as much as you can now to decrease your pain.

    Best,
    Anya
    "You must be the change you want to see in the world."

    Previously 55 degree thoracolumbar curve
    Surgery June 5, 2007 - Dr. Clifford Tribus, University of Wisconsin Hospital
    19 degrees post-op!

    http://abhbarry.blogspot.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    388
    I think NZgirl, Ruth, and Anya are spot-on! Seek a second opinion and watch your progression closely. Don't wait until you are 53 like i did to do something to help yourself... by then your curves are stiffer and harder to correct, and recovery is much harder. Good luck to you.... hang in there...
    JoAnn

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    109
    Thanks everyone. I appreciate the responses!

    Maura

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    30
    I agree with all said, but in addition are you wearing a Spinecor brace? I would strongly suggest that you at least look into it because it may be able to stop your curve from continuing and it may relieve the pain. I saw a woman at the Drs. office today (maybe 35 or 40?) who is in pain and she said the minute she put the brace on it felt better. Good luck!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Wheeling, WV
    Posts
    1,105
    Having this surgery is a difficult and complicated decision to make, and we have all been there!!!

    You have to do what you really feel is best for you. You know your body, your pain and deep down you know if you're progressing. There is no shame in fearing the decision of having the surgery!!! There is no shame in deciding whether to have it or not. You have to do what you feel is best for you in your heart!!!

    I choose to have it because I knew my outcome was bleak without it. There are still times I regret it, but deep down I know I made the right decision!!! I think that applies to every important decision we make in of lives.

    Shari

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    east coast
    Posts
    359
    How come nearly in every post your degrees are different? If the doctor was that much of a jerk, switch. He's not the only fish in the sea.
    30 something y.o.

    2003 - T45, L???
    2005 - T50, L31
    bunch of measurements between...

    2011 - T60, L32
    2013 - T68, L?

    Posterior Fusion Sept 2014 -- T3 - L3
    Post - op curve ~35



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    109
    Green m&m---I developed scoliosis at age 13. From what I understand my curves were around 15-20 degrees when it was discovered. I was braced and then at age 19 my curves were around 20-22 degrees. I was a kid...did not pay that much attention to exact numbers. This past time I was measured (last year) the ortho read the measurements to me. He measured the xrays as did his colleague. They came up with 2 different sets of numbers since there is a degree of error with any human measurement(1-3 degrees). One measurement was 30/28 or 28/30 and the other one was soemthing like 31/30 or 32/31. I have contacted them for a complete record of all my measurements through the years so that when I go to the clear institute I will have exact numbers. This past year has been difficult for me as I was nursing my terminally ill mother, and then lost her to cancer in July. The EXACT numbers of my curves have not been a priority of mine over the past 12 months.

    Now I am trying to put the pieces of my life back together, take charge of my health, move forward with life etc. I came here for advice and support, not to be called names. Please, if you don't agree with me, don't like me...that is totally fine...just ignore my posts. I've said my bit and won't bring it up again, I don't want board wars or fighting and name calling. Ok? I wish you all the best with your health. Let's drop this.

    Maura

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    459
    Perhaps this dr was trying to put things into perspective for you but maybe could have worded it a bit differently. Is your pain so bad that you would risk death or worse pain to have the surgery right now? There is no guarantee that you will not have pain after surgery either. In fact, I didn't have pain prior to surgery, but now I do have some slight pain almost everyday.

    Most surgeons will not operate unless the curves are at or above 50 degrees or the pain is so bad that it is keeping you from performing everyday tasks.
    I think there is something to be said for a surgeon who won't operate on everyone. I'm sorry that you didn't like how your dr chose his words and if you're that uncomfortable with this dr, you should definitely look for another. Good luck.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Atlanta
    Posts
    18
    Hi Mobee,
    As someone else stated, alot of doctors won't do the surgery unless the curve(s) are above 50 degrees or there is severe pain. So maybe you won't have to have surgery. You can search the forum about pain management - its been a frequent topic. Might give you some ideas, atleast until you get to the clear institute. You are on the right track by being proactive. Good luck, whatever you decide.

    Audra
    Last edited by ali8781; 10-23-2007 at 08:22 AM.
    Audra
    Diagnosed at 12
    42T, 52L presurgery
    surgery in 1994: fused form T1-L2, curves corrected to 25T and 25L
    infection leading to surgery and 10 day hospital stay w/ strong antibiotics 3 weeks later

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