View Full Version : Link to Ginger's Recovery Blog & A Summary for My Scoli Friends

Ginger W.
06-21-2008, 11:45 PM
Dear Friends,

After a few pre-surgery posts, I zoomed off to New York City and Dr. Boachie took my 65 degree curve down to 23. My fusions were from T4 to L3.

I was in the hospital for ELEVEN days. My stomach did not wake up for a full ten days and they considered doing some sort of emergency surgery, because it was so horribly swollen. In fact, I looked to be in advanced pregnancy at age 55. Fortunately, things started moving . . . finally!

I also had problems with pain management. I was either hallucinating and completely out of it OR I was in such extreme pain that I repeatedly jumped out of bed with the plan of escaping the hospital and getting myself to the nearest pharmacy. Of course, this plan had holes. I just was too drugged out to think of a more realistic approach. :confused: Sometimes, I did get way down the hall before I was taken back to bed. Three times, I pulled out my IV. Apparently, I got back my walking skills quite early. In fact, under supervision, I'd walk around and around and around the halls until Dr. Boachie was notified and he told me and the nursing staff that I needed to "cool it" and rest a bit more.

Unlike Shell, the pain management team at the Hospital for Special Surgery came to check on me about four times a day. They tried a variety of meds, hoping to decrease the pain AND kick the stomach into gear. I was on and off the morphine pump three different times, given various injections and oral meds. Sorry, I can't be more specific about those medications and my three young adult children were too traumatized to keep accurate records.

Here's the GOOD PART, as soon as they let me out of there at 9:00 p.m. on the eleven day, my drug haze began to lift and my pain levels went down. According to the pain management director, this is really common.

My daughter, sister and I were at the hospital's guest house for another week before flying back to Utah. On my first morning after leaving the hospital, I was able to shower, blow dry and curl my hair. IT was such a victory, but it DID wipe me out. Right after that, my daughter and I went over to Dr. Boachie's office to check on a little fall I'd taken while packing my luggage on the previous evening. It took over two hours of waiting and then another hour doing x-rays and evaluations. Soooo, I managed a long, long day.

Since then, I have had an amazing recovery. I got all my trouble on the front end and now I'm doing incredibly well. I thought Pam was one in a million, doing the 5K. Well, ever since I got back to Utah, 18 days after surgery, I've been hiking the canyon behind my home. Two weeks have passed, and I now am able to go about a mile up the trail and a mile back down. I was completely prepared to recover at a normal rate, but I am surprising myself more than anyone. I have to give some credit to Pilates. I did two years of Pilates training before my surgery (3 times a week) and that helped to put me in good physical shape. I recommend it strongly. So does Dr. Boachie, since he wrote the forward to the book "Pilates for Fragile Backs"

Anyhow, several of you helped me with postings and private messages. I so appreciate all of the support I've received. My kids got rather tired of me quoting different things that were said on the forum. But the truth is, you have all given me an anchor so I didn't go into this blind.

I have wanted to "give back", but instead of being an active member on the forum, I've done it by recording my surgery experience through a blog with several YouTube clips and lots of photos that help to show some of the realities of recovering from scoliosis surgery.

Here's the link


Best wishes to all my fellow 'scolis'!

06-22-2008, 09:27 AM
Hi Ginger!

I was able to read the first 3 pages of your blog (for some reason my browser keeps closing when I get to the 4th page) and found it fascinating. Your hospital stay sounded awful (I can definitely relate to the agonizing pain) but I'm so glad to hear you are doing so well now. It's amazing that you can walk that far and do so much. Are you still on pain medicine? You are truly an inspiration. I'm guessing you have to go back to New York soon for your 6 week check up. I hope it goes well. Congratulations on such a great recovery!


06-22-2008, 10:37 AM

My hat's off to you! The photos on your blog are breathtaking....makes me want to hike in Utah instead of the daily walks I take on suburban sidewalks!

Best wishes for continued success!

06-22-2008, 12:02 PM
That is fantastic, Ginger. I'm sorry you had it so rough in the hospital, but you are doing so spectacularly well now... and no wonder you wanted to get back into hiking! :D You look terrific (beauty parlor or not-- and I call them that too!) and obviously have had a truly rapid recovery. That is just great for you! It's also super to have you back on the forum as well. Take care! Susie

06-22-2008, 02:57 PM

All I can say is WOW! You look fantastic in your blog. That yoga pose you do on one leg---OMG, I can't even do that now! I hope you continue to recover at your incredible rate.

Feel good!

06-22-2008, 06:12 PM
Ginger - I am so awed by your amazing recovery. I am almost 6 months out and I still cannot do much of what you are doing! You are such a strong and positive person, and blessed to have so many people in your life to support you in your recovery.

I just read through your entire blog, which brought back memories (good & bad) of my post-surgery period at HSS. I remember very little of my stay in ICU (I was there for 6 days because I contracted pneumonia) but I was told by Drs. Boachie & King and others that the "bad trip" I had been on was not all that unusual considering the amount of anesthesia (11 hours). Also while in ICU, according to my son, I was in agony from the pain and so out of it mentally that I couldn't figure out how to use the pain pump; he was told by the nurses that they could not administer any pain meds because the only order was for the pump, which they were not authorized to operate - so my son took matters into his own hands and operated the pain pump for me!

I didn't think ahead to ask my son to take photos, so I had to rely on what he told me afterwards, which was not much about the difficult parts (a guy thing, I guess).

Anyway, thanks so much for the posts and blog, and for having your family provide updates. Keep up the great work!!

loves to skate
06-22-2008, 06:45 PM
Hi Ginger,
You look amazing. I am so glad that you are having such a rapid recovery after such a difficult time in the hospital. Hallucinating isn't much fun is it? It is good to have all of that bad stuff behind you. Take good care of yourself and try not to overdo. Sally

Ginger W.
06-23-2008, 12:08 AM
Shell, I was taking my meds faithfully until the last few days. On Thursday, I tossed the Zanaflex in exchange for driving privileges. On Friday, I quit taking Diluadid (2 mg) and Ultram six times a day and moved it down to four times. On Saturday, I went for three times. On Saturday night, I was medication-free for 12 hours.

Well, all these 'cut-backs' caught up with me TODAY! I felt like I had 'hit the wall'. I fell apart about a 1/4 of a mile up the canyon, and continued to have fall aparts throughout the day. Getting too confident in recovery is problematic. Today was rather humbling. :eek: I felt the need to confess it.

Janet, YOU are the strong one. Long recoveries are so taxing in every way. They require true courage. I really respect the fact that MOST recoveries are much more difficult than mine and I admire the way people work through the challenges.

You brought up the issue of being under anesthesia for 11 hours. I was under for over 19 hours, because they wanted to wait for the morning staff to arrive before waking me up. Isn't that wierd? I sincerely wonder if that didn't cause my stomach to go to sleep (for 10 days) and thus I had to be hospitalized for 11 days. Any thoughts on that?

Susie Bee and Debbei, a sincere thanks for the compliments on looking good. I was the one posting questions about hair issues before surgery, because I have this one vanity - my hair. It started going grey in high school and I started dying it by the time my first child was born. I was totally white by my third birth although I successfully masqueraded as a brunette.

I am GOOD at keeping color in my hair and I was having a tough time dealing with the fact that I might not be able to dye it for a while after surgery. Well, the day after I arrived home from New York, I got out the hair color and did a marvelous job on my dye job. Yes. It wore me right out. BUT, my hair is one thing that can either make or break my day. So, my determination won out and my hair looks it belongs on the head of a 55 year old (my age) and not on the head of my great aunt.

Singer, I'm glad you like the photos of my 'homeland' on my blog http://gingerinrecovery.blogspot.com You and I are both Boachie graduates and we would probably make great friends. Come on out for a visit. I have four spare bedrooms. (The kids grew up and I don't feel like moving.) Truly, it's glorious country with high mountain peaks right near colorful ' Red Rock'. Of course, I'm biased.

06-23-2008, 04:59 AM

About the hair, this is something I was thinking about this weekend. I am 46, and have lots of gray in the front of my head. Sigh, what a PIA that God put it there where I can see it, why can't it be in the BACK instead? LOL Anyway, I get my hair colored once every 4 weeks. The girl who does my hair promises to come to my house after my surgery for as long as I need her to. She's so sweet. I'll have to wash it off in the shower, so I was wondering how long post-op I'll be able to get my back wet and have hair color run down my back. How did you handle it?

I hope you feel better after your hard time yesterday. Take care of yourself!

06-23-2008, 11:51 AM

You must be so disappointed that you can't do it all at once. You are still so early in your recovery!! Listen to what your body is telling you; Mt. Everest will still be there for you to climb in 6 months :-)

About the anesthesia, I was under the real deal during the 11 hours of surgery; Dr. B had told me he would keep me sedated overnight following surgery so I could rest. Turns out I was sedated for 6 days!!!! because of the pneumonia. I was given antibiotics for the pneumonia, so I didn't have the bloating problem that seems so common - instead I had the opposite result from the antibiotics.

Please get lots of rest, and while maybe a few baby steps at the beginning of the hike is all you can do now, it does get better! I didn't think I would ever again have the energy I used to have, but I am almost back to normal, although I still take bed rest for a little while most afternoons.

Ginger W.
06-23-2008, 12:43 PM
I pondered the exact same question. I read some posts where people used duct tape and plastic food wrap. There is also some sort of plastic with sticky stuff on the edges to seal the wound. My P.T. knows about it, but didn't have any.

My solution . . . a "Comfort Cape" I sat on my shower seat and held onto the neck of the cape VERY TIGHTLY while my friend rinsed off the hair dye using the detachable shower head which I've enjoyed for the last seventeen years I've lived in this house.

I just found a site that carries the Comfort Cape and some other practical solutions to this problem. http://www.techforltc.org/ltc.cfm?pageid=156&producttype=1733&careissue=1391

Best of Luck!

06-23-2008, 12:52 PM
Ginger-- I hope you felt "purged" after your little confession... it's all a game, an exploration of what we can do vs. cannot do, even when we work within the restrictions we've been given. Don't beat yourself up for either doing too much-- or for finding out that you are human too. You have made huge progress to be able to do what you have done, even with some setbacks. Try not to think you can tough it out with the pain meds. I think you found out that it's not just a mind over matter deal. Your body took a whalloping in that surgery... it will need some help for awhile in recovering from that! :eek:

I think it's good to push yourself, especially when you have so much desire to "do", (as opposed to some of us who had to push ourselves to do our walking, because we knew we were supposed to) but just remember that it's sort of a pendulum effect-- back and forth-- too much, recoup and rest; a little more, rest some more; etc. You'll find after awhile what works best for you, your body, etc., but in reality, I'm still playing that game even after 1 year. We are all so different, depending on so many factors!!!

Yes, Janet truly went through an ordeal with her early weeks of recovery. Janet-- I am awed by your statement that you are almost back to normal, energy-wise. I'm still working on that part. That's why I try to push myself-- I figure I'll never gain the stamina/endurance if I don't. But then if I do too much, my back aches... it's not easy, any of this. :eek:

Ginger-- my best advice is to listen to your body. Back off when it says "NO!" or even a milder "no...?" -- and pace yourself. Take shorter hikes for awhile so you can manage getting both the exercise and the exhilaration, without overdoing... (Easier said than done, I know.)

You are still lookin' good-- and way beyond most "older" folks' recovery at this point. (And yes, I remember it was you asking about hair back awhile ago...) Just give yourself some time to adjust and you'll be doing some amazing feats!

06-25-2008, 04:15 PM
Not much to say but "YAY, Ginger!". :)