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Thread: I had surgery 35 years ago at age 11.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    7

    Thumbs up I had surgery 35 years ago at age 11.

    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 thenÖ Now I can touch the floorÖ. 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!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    -Marta
    Scoli surgery 1979, age 11, Albany NY
    Fused T3 to L4, single harrington rod
    2013 X-rays:
    http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/g...psce6b64aa.jpg
    http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/g...ps46760488.jpg

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2021
    Posts
    6

    Update

    Hi Marta,
    I just read your impressive 35 year post surgery report on your experience and overall physical condition from 2013. I had Harrington rod (2) and fusion surgery, T3-L4, in 1974 at age 16. I was wondering how you were doing now?
    Best,
    Nancy

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    reno,nevada
    Posts
    4,389
    Hi Nancy, Welcome to the forum!

    Marta has not posted for quite some time and has been inactive. If you like, I will send her a PM (Private mail) through the NSF system.

    Where were your surgeries done? How are you doing now?

    You should start your own intro thread....

    Ed
    49 yr old male, now 62, the new 63...
    Pre surgery curves T70,L70
    ALIF/PSA 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

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2021
    Posts
    6

    Living with a long fusion and old steel implants

    Hi Ed,

    Was happy to read your response!

    My surgery was in Houston by Dr. Jesse Dickson. I had double major thoracic and lumbar curves of 68 and 47 degrees respectively. Post surgery the curves reduced to 37 and 19, and I was two inches taller. However, my hump was the same or worse than before as the Harrington rods could not un-rotate the thoracic spine at all. How can you correct a rib cage curvature that develops over months and years in a one day operation? My shoulders and pelvic asymmetry were not improved either and the normal sagittal curves turned completely upside down. I now have thoracic lordosis and lumbar kyphosis. These were all the normal results from that kind of surgery.

    I never had any back pain before the surgery but ever since have a little or a lot of pain everyday. Competitive sports were over for me, but I did play recreational tennis for many years. Starting in my 40s I started to develop flat back syndrome. I didnít realize what it was until this past year when I started to research scoliosis, fusions, history of spinal implants, long term effects and all the rest. That is how I found this website. I greatly value reading the stories people are willing to share about their own scoliosis experience. Your personal story and insights are incredibly helpful to me. Thank you so much for your generous and thoughtful responses!

    Yours truly,
    Nancy

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    reno,nevada
    Posts
    4,389
    "A little or a lot of pain"....it's funny how you put that. We sure do know what you are saying....

    When was this surgery?

    We have had a few Harrington folks pop in over the last year and a few flatbackers. One of them is a local and I went and saw her about a month ago......she is leaning forward a bit. Linda, our moderator was active with one of the flatback groups, but don't know if its still running or not. Are you leaning forward?

    I watched scoliosis hardware history since I was a Luque candidate in 1975. But dodged all of that....Every single doctor told me I would have surgery some day and waited 33 years. The last 6 years were quite the battle until I capitulated in 2007.

    I remember when the pedicle screw was introduced in the US around 1986 and thought that was great. Heck, I even posted a JFK spine paper here the other day, (with his Wilson plate hardware) wow did he have some spine troubles! At least we know some of the truth...

    Glad you pulled up a chair....Its best to follow all the threads and discussions here....

    Ed
    49 yr old male, now 62, the new 63...
    Pre surgery curves T70,L70
    ALIF/PSA 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

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2021
    Posts
    6

    Hello again

    Hi Ed,

    I had the surgery in 1974. I do lean forward and a bit when walking. I am working with a physical therapist on correct posture, stretching and strengthening exercises. Now I can walk straighter but it takes a conscious effort.

    I didnít know that JFK had hardware implanted. I did know that he had one or more failed fusions and his back was a catastrophe. Yet, he had started watching Jack Lalaines exercise TV show and been able to touch his toes again. What kind of implant did he have in his back?

    I am so new to this online community I donít really know how to go about setting up my own thread. Would you be so kind as to explain the process to me?

    -Nancy

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    reno,nevada
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    Start a New Thread

    Log in

    Select where you want to put your thread....From the main page, since you have already had surgery, under adult 18+, select Surgical (Revision)

    Scroll down, lower left corner, select the green button Post New Thread

    Title the thread in the top box

    Type your story

    Lower right, select preview post for inspection.

    Submit new thread

    (You can also edit the new post in your thread by selecting edit post on the lower right side)

    Ed
    49 yr old male, now 62, the new 63...
    Pre surgery curves T70,L70
    ALIF/PSA 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

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    reno,nevada
    Posts
    4,389
    The JFK spine paper is the last post on this thread. Post #60

    https://www.scoliosis.org/forum/show...ision-for-this

    Curlygirl (Irene) has a Harrington (1976) so this would be a good thread to read for you. She started it in May 2018, and it's has run since that time. Irene is in Phoenix.

    She has inquired about surgery, and all of us chime in on "important matters"..... Need to know information.

    If there is anything you want links on, do ask. Sometimes I post links, sometimes I do not. This all depends on if I can find it. I don't save everything....

    Ed
    49 yr old male, now 62, the new 63...
    Pre surgery curves T70,L70
    ALIF/PSA 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

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2021
    Posts
    6
    Hi Ed,

    I finished the article you posted about JFKís back surgeries, which was excruciating and literally riveting to read. Thank you so much for posting that and the other information. I did read the FORUM instructions but your comments were a lot clearer on how to start a thread. Iíll give it a go!

    I am doing pretty well for a 63 year old. I walk for an hour each day and do other exercises to attain more flexibility. A lot of the time I donít have any pain but my back strength is weak, routine physical tasks cause aches and I tire quickly. Itíll be interesting whether what I have learned about my own surgery and the scoliosis-fusion specific life style changes I have made will have any effect on my physical condition going forward. How are you doing now compared to the last 6 years that drove you to have surgery? What are your current challenges and what are you doing about them?

    Yours,
    Nancy

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    reno,nevada
    Posts
    4,389
    Quote Originally Posted by nmhtx View Post
    How are you doing now compared to the last 6 years that drove you to have surgery? What are your current challenges and what are you doing about them?
    Surgery was a huge improvement.....and I really had no decision after waiting that long. When degeneration takes a foothold, the battle gets harder. DDD, herniations, stenosis, (cord and foraminal), and bone spurs, are pretty much non reversable....Discs herniations can retract or shrink with steroids,(If that's what they do) but it seems the underlying problems can and do exist. Discectomies are also tricky if some of the disc material is left around the spinal cord. This is a highly delicate surgical area.

    Current challenges and what am I doing? Nothing really, taking vitamin D helps with my neck. My neck herniated in 2013, C5/6, C6/7. I have had 6 verified disc herniations, 4 lumbar in a 70 degree curve, 2 in my neck with no curve....

    My right foot was 20% numb yesterday, which is a first. Its better today. My left hand goes just slightly numb every once in a while...from the neck. Numbness, not pain. I will take numbness over pain any day.

    Funny how these pain areas which recovered in the past will re-activate at times, I often wonder if its nerve damage....I don't know what triggers it?

    Doctors will ask what did you do? Nothing Doc! I have had this happen quite a bit. A lot of times you just have to wait it out as there is never an easy solution.

    I don't know why Marta started this thread in the adolescent area? I just noticed this. She is about our age. Most of our discussions are adult oriented material.

    Ed
    49 yr old male, now 62, the new 63...
    Pre surgery curves T70,L70
    ALIF/PSA 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
    Dec 2008
    Location
    illinois
    Posts
    1,051
    Yes it is funny how some of these areas flare up and then settle down. But I will say while pain is worse the continued numbness is also a huge problem. And be careful because it seems to lead to muscle loss.
    Think of how small the little finger is and losing its muscle. The small finger is part of being able to grasp objects.
    T10-pelvis fusion 12/08
    C5,6,7 fusion 9/10
    T2--T10 fusion 2/11
    C 4-5 fusion 11/14
    Right scapulectomy 6/15
    Right pectoralis major muscle transfer to scapula
    To replace the action of Serratus Anterior muscle 3/16
    Broken neck 9/28/2018
    Emergency surgery posterior fusion C4- T3
    Repeated 11/2018 because rods pulled apart added T2 fusion
    Removal of partial right thoracic hardware 1/2020
    Removal and replacement of C4-T10 hardware with C7 and T 1
    Osteotomy

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