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Thread: Let me introduce myself

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    15

    Let me introduce myself

    Hi everyone,
    I've been reading this forum for almost a year now. I have followed many of you through your pre and post op ups and downs. I have learned so much from all of your posts and threads. Well, I finally decided to register in the forum and join all of you in the conversation, especially since my day is looming near.
    Here is my story:
    My name is Cathy. I'm a 58 year old elementary school teacher, wife, mother and pretty active gal. I was diagnosed with scoliosis when I was 12 years old - had a 42 degree curve at that time - we chose not to correct it at that time. My older sister had just gone through the whole ordeal (full body cast, this was back in the 60 s) and my family just couldn't handle it again. I always ignored it and just went on with my life. I ski, bike, hike, go to Jazzercise and work with busy 8 year olds at school, which I love. But about 8 years ago I started noticing the pain and it eventually started to slow me down. So, I started the process of seeing many doctors - my xrays showed my curve had progressed to 70 degrees.
    My surgeries are scheduled for March 15 (anterior) and 17 (posterior) at UCSF. I mostly feel a sense of peace and calm now that it's getting so close. I really feel like I am prepared for what is ahead of me - reading this forum has educated me more than anything else.
    I am hoping to return to teaching in the fall - is that too hopeful for an old(ish) gal like me?
    Any advise any of you can offer will be appreciated.

    Cathy
    California - Sierra Mountains
    70 degree curve
    Surgery - March 15 and 17 -
    UCSF - Dr. V. Deviren

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    3,263
    Hi Cathy,

    Welcome to the forum. So glad you've already got a lot from it, as I think we all do. Your story is similar to mine. Diagnosed at 13, ignored it, lived full and active life, but pain started at around age 50. I had my surgery a few weeks short of age 58 and it was the best thing I ever did. My surgery was posterior only. I had a 68 degree thoracic curve, now 22 and almost unnoticeable. I felt fine at 3 months, could probably have returned to an easy job, but teaching 8 y.o.s? Probably not until around 6 months. So I think you have a good chance of meeting your time-line. I'm almost 2 years post op and it's like having a new life.
    Last edited by JenniferG; 02-06-2011 at 06:00 PM.
    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
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Bend, Oregon
    Posts
    265
    Welcome, Cathy! I'm glad you have gotten help over the last year from everyone here on the forum. It has been priceless for me. Keep in touch, as we like to encourage our fellow members when they go through the process before and after the surgery.
    Jenee'-52
    Bend, Oregon

    Braced 3 years in high school
    Lumbar 70'+ Thoracic 70'+
    I had 3" shrinkage in 6 months...

    Surgery Jan 10, 2011
    9 hours
    T3 to S1 with pelvic fixation
    Both curves now 35'

    Possible revison for Flatback Syndrome
    Non-fusion
    Loose/broken hardware-awaiting CT results

    Here is the link to my before and after pics..
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/showt......&highlight=

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Waterloo, IL
    Posts
    1,707
    Welcome, Cathy! You shouldn't have waited so long! Our stories are really similar. My curve was around 40 degrees in high school, but it didn't bother me and I was active until the day of my surgery. Pain wasn't a factor at the time, but it was increasing and I was shrinking. I could barely push my finger between my ribs and my hip bones. Now, I could probably put a whole fist.
    I retired from 33 years of teaching 2nd grade and kindergarten in 2005 and substituted the past 5 years. It is nice not having the pressure of returning to a full time job. My surgery was one month from yesterday and I'm doing really well! As soon as the weather here in Illinois improves, I'll get out more. Definitely, the most stressful time is pre-surgery.
    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/

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    York, PA
    Posts
    332
    Another chiming in with a similar story. Diagnosed at 14, did nothing about it and pretty much lived my life up until about age 50 when chronic pain set in. I teach strings to 3rd graders and 7th-8th graders, travel around to different bldgs, carrying instruments, etc. Had my surgery in early Feb. and was fine going back to work in Sept. Could have probably gone sooner and actually sang choral concerts (on my feet for better part of 2 hours) at the end of April. Minimal issues with recovery and I agree with whoever said it was one of the best things they ever did. As you can see from my signature, my curves were severe and are still pretty significant, but the pain is gone and I feel and look so much better. Don't know that I would have found my Dr. and gone through it all without the support of this forum. Best of luck to you!


    Anne in PA
    Age 58
    Diagnosed at age 14, untreated, no problem until age 50
    T4 to sacrum fusion
    63 thoracic now 35, 92 lumbar now 53
    Dr. Baron Lonner, 2/2/10
    Am pain-free, balanced, happy & an inch taller !

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    3,729
    happy one year anniversary, Anne!

    jess...and Sparky, who has a bday on your anniversary date...


    http://i1085.photobucket.com/albums/...yc/pillow2.jpg

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Ames, Iowa
    Posts
    1,250
    Cathy--
    It is amazing how so many of us were having parallel lives! Your story sounds much like mine too. I retired from teaching the year before my surgery so thankfully didn't have to worry about that. Maybe that makes me think I couldn't have returned that soon since I didn't have too! Personally, I don't think I could have returned to teaching 8th grade the next fall. At more than a year I did some volunteering and some subbing. It was exhausting for me--I may have just been out of shape for that kind of stuff even though I had done lots of physical exercising. Everyone seems to have very unique recoveries. Welcome to the forum & very best of luck to you! Janet
    Janet

    61 years old--57 for surgery

    Diagnosed in 1965 at age of 13--no brace
    Thoracic Curve: 96 degrees to 35 degrees
    Lumbar Curve: 63 degrees to 5 degrees
    Surgery with Dr. Lenke in St. Louis--March 30, 2009
    T-2 to Pelvis, and hopefully all posterior procedure.

    All was posterior along with 2 cages and 6 osteotomies.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    15
    Wow, so many of us with similar stories! It is reassuring to hear from all of you. I am encouraged from your comments. I know that my recovery is hard to predict and that I will just have to give it time and see how it goes. Honestly, at this point I just want to get this surgery over with and get to "the other side".
    New question...
    How long was everyone in the hospital after surgery? Did you go to rehab or go home? My doctor estimates 5 to 7 days in the hospital and a possibility of 10 more days in a rehab enter.
    Cathy

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Ames, Iowa
    Posts
    1,250
    I was in the hospital 8 days and then rehab for another 8 days. Janet
    Janet

    61 years old--57 for surgery

    Diagnosed in 1965 at age of 13--no brace
    Thoracic Curve: 96 degrees to 35 degrees
    Lumbar Curve: 63 degrees to 5 degrees
    Surgery with Dr. Lenke in St. Louis--March 30, 2009
    T-2 to Pelvis, and hopefully all posterior procedure.

    All was posterior along with 2 cages and 6 osteotomies.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    reno,nevada
    Posts
    4,180
    Cathy

    I spent 10 days, then pretty much ran out with hoses attached! That wasn’t a great idea because I had to wean to orals at home, and that’s rough. I would recommend participating in rehab due to this reason.

    Do you know which levels will be fused? and where your anterior will be?

    Also, how is your sister doing after all the years?

    Welcome to the forum
    Ed
    49 yr old male, now 61, the new 61...
    Pre surgery curves T70,L70
    ALIF/PLIF T2-Pelvis 01/29/08, 01/31/08 7" pelvic anchors BMP
    Dr Brett Menmuir St Marys Hospital Reno,Nevada

    Bending and twisting pics after full fusion
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/showt...on.&highlight=

    My x-rays
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...2&d=1228779214

    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...3&d=1228779258

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Waterloo, IL
    Posts
    1,707
    I was in the hospital for one week. I thought that rehab. Would be good for me and make life easier for my husband, however I was told that I did not qualify for rehab. I actually did fine at home.
    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/

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    15
    Thank you for the responses regarding time in the hospital/rehab. It sounds like 7 days is probably the minimum. It also sounds like rehab is a good thing. Since I live four hours away from my surgery hospital in San Francisco, going to rehab would be best, just in case I need something. As I understand, it's up to the PT to determine if I go home or go to rehab.

    Ed,
    My anterior is T12 to L5
    Posterior is T2 to pelvis

    Thanks for asking about my sister. She has done very well - her back was not straightened, just fused, but she did not progress any further from her 45 degree curve and she has never had any pain. She is an active grandma of five and can hold a toddler on her hip while cooking dinner. Her daughter, however, also had scoliosis. She had surgery in the 80s with a Harrington Rod installed. Now at age 36 she is in pain.

    So., what's with the foam topper? I have a comfy mattress - does a foam topper really make a big difference? Any other "must-haves" you would like to recommend to help once I get home?
    I watched your skiing video - very impressive through all of that powder.
    Cathy from CA
    59 years old
    70 degree curve before surgery
    Original surgery March 2011, anterior and posterior
    T3 - sacrum
    UCSF, Dr. V. Deviren
    Infection after two weeks,
    Then four more weeks in the hospital and three more surgeries to clean out the infection

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    reno,nevada
    Posts
    4,180

    Preparing for surgery

    Cathy

    Yes, PT will decide when you can leave. It depends on weather you win the wheelchair race or not! LOL

    I can’t say enough good things about UCSF. I was there last summer at the scoli meeting and everyone was just fantastic. Its nice to know that there are so many experts in every branch of medicine there. Your in good hands.

    I feel the foam is necessary. My shoulder was broken at the time, (stuff happens) and the foam increased my sleep time substantially. The bandages can be annoying to lay on, and the foam makes it so much easier since sleeping is so hard after surgery. Latex foam, 2-4 inches thick. Get plenty of SOFT down pillows. They need to be soft so you can mold them easily. I would almost recommend running them over with the car about 50 times to make sure they are super soft! The bed should be dead flat, not hammocked. It it sags 1 inch in the center, its hammocked, you will feel it. I have a medium Tempurpedic and it wasn’t soft enough.

    I also would recommend 2 bottles of Magnesium Citrate. It's sold over the counter, and is your “heavy artillery” in case you need to break up the dam. Opoid constipation happens to all of us, and can happen going every day, and is one of the most painful events that can happen in your recovery. I was told “NO X-LAX” Think of it as your fire extinguisher.

    Other than these items above, a good support team to help you with things. Someone who can get the other things that you forget from Linda’s list
    http://www.scoliosislinks.com/PreparingforSurgery.htm

    Ed
    49 yr old male, now 61, the new 61...
    Pre surgery curves T70,L70
    ALIF/PLIF T2-Pelvis 01/29/08, 01/31/08 7" pelvic anchors BMP
    Dr Brett Menmuir St Marys Hospital Reno,Nevada

    Bending and twisting pics after full fusion
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/showt...on.&highlight=

    My x-rays
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...2&d=1228779214

    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...3&d=1228779258

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Sacramento, CA area
    Posts
    189
    Hi Cathy! Welcome to the forum. Congratulations on making the very brave decision...that's the tough part, deciding on whether or not to have the surgery after weighing all the pros and cons. Your story is very similar to mine and many others here. Seems like around age 50 the curve(s) and pain start to accelerate for some of us.

    The memory foam mattress topper, recommended by Ed, was about the best suggestion I received here on the forum! I purchased it at Costco and it wasn't very expensive. (I still see them there.) I'm so glad that I have it.

    You are having surgery by one of the best scoli surgeons. You are in excellent hands.

    Just wondering, how far do you live from Yosemite?
    Laurie
    Age 57
    Posterior fusion w/thoracoplasty T2-L3 Oct 1, 2010
    Thoracic curve corrected from 61* to 16*
    Lumbar curve, unknown measurement
    Disfiguring back hump GONE!!
    Dr Munish Gupta
    UC Davis Medical Center, Sacramento, CA

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    15
    Thanks Lauri for the encouragement about Dr. D - I really do feel very confident about him and UCSF. I will be picking up a foam topper from Costco this weekend!
    I live in the mountains outside of Yosemite - my husband works up there and we used to live in the park. It is a very special place to us.

    Does anyone have any insight or advise about having visitors at the hospital during and soon after surgery? I am blessed to have some friends and family who want to drive a long distance to come visit - should I discourage them from coming the first five days or so? - am I going to a complete wreck? My husband and daughter will be there, but should the others wait? I would assume it would be good for my spirits to have visitors eventually, but I'm not sure when I should tell them to come.
    Thanks! I am leanting so much from all of you!
    Cathy from CA
    59 years old
    70 degree curve before surgery
    Original surgery March 2011, anterior and posterior
    T3 - sacrum
    UCSF, Dr. V. Deviren
    Infection after two weeks,
    Then four more weeks in the hospital and three more surgeries to clean out the infection

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