My brace came off today! I no longer have to wear it on car rides or walking around. It feels like I moved a mountain. It has now been 2 months to the day that I have had my Spinal Fusion surgery. This obstacle in my life has been a horrendous one, but I made it. I dreaded these days since June 2013 and it is complete. Now I just have to be careful, watch what I eat to maintain a healthy weight, wear my electromagnetic brace 2 hours a day for a little while longer, and get stronger. In February, I will go back to my surgeon to have him evaluate my spine again. They will take another x-ray to make sure the rods are still secure.
I also came home today to my boyfriend and our son. Oh, it's good to be home.
The beat goes on....
As the days pass, the pain gets better. I don't seem to take my Percocet as much as I previously did. I am allowed to downgrade to Vicodin as soon as this last bottle is finished. I also am not taking naps as much. I am able to walk a mile too. Every night I now have to wear a belt that is electromagnetic. It's supposed to help the bone graft solidify faster. It's uncomfortable to sit in for 2 hours a day, but whatever works.
I am also going into town more often with my mom. Of course, I do not do much. Mainly I walk around the stores. People do stare. Be prepared for that by the way. Humans are a curious bunch you know. Some just stare, others whisper as the walk past you asking what do you think happened to her, then occasionally a few will have the guts to ask you. I was asked if I was in a car accident, if I broke my back, and one lady even asked if I was in the CIA because of the brace.
I had my IVC filter removed on 11/18/13. (Remember this portion of the blog is behind due to the condition I was in at the time.) It was a piece of cake since I knew what to expect. Just like when they placed it, I was awake the entire time. I wasn't nervous at all, but I can tell you one thing- I NEVER want to go through all this again! The removal of the filter was the last big hurdle. I am now hospital free!! Yay!
As of 12/3/13 my brace will be gone! That's 2 months since my surgery! I am ready to live normally again!
1 month post op
I went to my 1 month post op appointment with my surgeon on 11/6/13. It was nice to get out of the house. When we arrived at the doctor's office, they took a new x-ray to check the rods and to make sure everything is stabilized. My wonderful surgeon then came in to check my reflexes and checked the incision. He said everything was healing beautifully.
My surgeon gave me a card that I will have to carry with me at all times due to the titanium that now rests inside me. Metal detectors, more so airport metal detectors, have a tendency to pick it up.
So, today was a great day with great news. Oh, I can also stop wearing my brace in 1 more month! Yay! He says I am strong enough!
Below are my x-rays. I went from 62 degrees to 15 degrees! Bless my surgeon and the astonishing world of science.
Today was the same as Day 4 except for one thing...they told me I can go home today! I am walking well, eating pretty good, and my incision looks great too! The hospital is giving me a walker and a raised toilet seat to take home.
After lunch, 2 of my coworkers stopped by to check on me. They gave me some beautiful flowers. While they were there, nurses came by to prepare me to be discharged. The girls left and next thing I knew I was being seated in a wheelchair and being took down to my mom's car. I was so excited!
The drive to my mom's house was long, but I was happy. By the time we got there, I was so tired that I feel asleep and slept for a few hours. It felt glorious to lay in a comfortable familiar place again. Unfortunately, the pain was hard to forget. During the night I woke every 2 hours. My pain in my rib cage and hips was unbearable. The Percocet helped but not totally. It was just enough to lull my back to sle
On day 4, in the wee hours of the morning, my surgeon came by to check on me. He looked at my incision and the bandages and said everything looked great! I am so blessed to have a surgeon as good as him. If I wasn't so tired when he came, I would of kissed his hands!
I was able to walk all the way around the unit I was staying in twice with my brace and walker! It was an awesome achievement for me! I can also sit pretty comfortably in a chair for an hour. No fidgeting! I can eat a little more too.
It was a good day if I have to say so myself.
I was moved to a regular room on day 3. I had a roomate, but I can not remember her name. The nurse I had was wonderful and took great care of me. I also was able to eat a little more. Things like eggs and salad. The best was the milkshakes.
They took me off the morphine today. Now I'm taking pain medicine orally every 4 hours. The physical therapist also came again and I was able to walk 400ft! He said I was doing wonderful. Sleeping is still a problem, but I assume it will be for a while.
The second day in ICU was more of a blur. What I do remember is that I did not approve of the night shift nurse. She never came to check on me nor made sure my morphine pump didn't run out. She acted like it was a problem that I was in pain. The only perk was that my Mom was there during the day. If she was there for the night shift and saw how that nurse was treating me, all hell would of broke loose.
The daytime nurse was presistent and great. She made me eat a little and took my catheter out to make me use the toliet. When she helped me up to sit on it, it was horribly painful. Of course, I could not go. She said that it was normal and that it can take a few days for my body to wake up from all the anesthesia. A physical therapist came by as well. He had me put on my brace for the first time. So uncomfortable! He had me get up and walk with a walker. If the look I gave him could kill......poor guy probably gets it a lot. But, I walked down the hall and back.
The surgery took eight hours. There was nurse telling my mom and boyfriend how things were going every two. When I woke, I was in ICU. I can remember seeing my mom and Yvenson smiling at me. I think I smiled back.
My face was swollen from the length of the surgery. The nurse explained how to use the medicine that I administered myself with a button. It was morphine. Morphine does not cover up the pain entirely, so to deal with it, I fell asleep.
I don't remember Yvenson leaving, but I would look over and see mom playing on her IPad. She talked to me about the surgery and asked how I was feeling. Then the nurse, whom I liked very much, would have to adjust my position in the bed. She had me press the button for morphine and then slide me to my side using sheets and propping me up with pillows. Even a crinkle in the sheets made it feel like needles poking me, but the nurse kept adjusting until I was perfect. Like the Princess and the pea. Moving just that little bit wore me out and was so painful that it made me fall asleep.
Sleeping makes it go away. Until I open my eyes and realize where I am at.
The dreaded day....
Hello all! I am so happy to be writing again! My energy is finally high enough so I can concentrate! I have so much to share so I'm just going to hit the ground running and start talking.
My Spinal Fusion surgery was October 3rd. I had about 2 hours of sleep and had to be at the hospital by 5am. Mom drove me in the wee hours of the morning. Let me just say, there wasn't much said on that trip. We were both pretty nervous I think.
We checked into the Spinal Care Unit and it wasn't 20 minutes before they called me back to the holding area. I had to walk back there by myself, get changed into a diposable hospital gown (due to the "involvement of blood"), and the nurse began prepping me by asking all the medical history questions. After what seemed like 50 questions later, the nurse said she would get my mother. By the the time my mom came, the nurse was placing more chlorahexydine (antimicrobial) on my back.
I was a freaking nervous wreck. I was so scared. I was shaking my foot so bad that I was rocking the whole bed. Mom noticed and naturally starting tearing up telling me that it was going to be fine. I cried a little, but I was trying to be strong for her. Inside I was screaming. Unfortunately, I only got to see her for 15 minutes before being rolled into the pre-op holding area. I could not look back at her. Never in my life have I been that terrified.
Inside pre-op holding, I was the youngest person. Everyone else was middle aged or older. I was rolled into a corner with no one around me. I just stared at the wall trying to meditate and stay calm. A nurse by the name of Frank introduced himself. He said he was going to be with me the entire operation. He was very nice and made me as comfortable as he could.
The prepping began by placing pulsating cuffs on my calves to help stop blood clots. The IV was placed on both arms. A nurse came walking towards my bed with a cooler and placed it on the table directly beside me. It read, "Blood Bank for Tiffany O'Neal". That's when I started to panic. I started to hyperventilate, but the nurse named Frank mellowed me out. My surgeon stopped by to check on me. He was very kind and reassuring. The moment he walked away however, I started crying like a baby. Finally, they gave me Versed (anxiety medicine) to get me to chill out. Then it was lights out. I did not remember a thing.
Today I went to the hospital with my boyfriend, to have the IVC filter placed. We got there at 7am and was brought back to pre-op pretty quickly. After reviewing my medical history, they drew 1 more vial of blood (to check if I was pregnant)and inserted the IV.
Approximately 45 minutes later, I was rolled back into the Radiology department. I got on the operating table myself and they strapped me down and gave me oxygen. A little versed and fetanyl was administered, but I remember everything. They placed a drape over the right side of my face and told me to look to the left. They placed iodine and began using a machine (I'm guessing it was a cardiovascular ultrasound). The doctor injected 2 shots of Lidocaine to numb the area directly below my cervical bone and in between my jugular on the right side. Again, my eyes are open the entire time and I can hear it. Next thing I know, they are saying that they are finished. I was then rolled into recovery for 1 1/2 hours.
I felt fine afterwards while in recovery because I was still numb. When the day went on, the pain started. It is not excruciating, but very noticeable. Like talking loud, swallowing food, bending down, and driving (later that afternoon I drove-trust me, I was fine).
I have 7 days to the day until my Spinal Fusion.......
September 25th, 2013
Today I received a phone call from the nurse at the hospital telling me that my appointment to place the IVC filter is tomorrow at 8am. So, I have to be there at 7am and someone has to drive me to and from the appointment because they have to sedate me to place it. They also have to place it in my neck. Yes, you read that they have to place it in my neck. Then 6 weeks after my Spinal Fusion, I have to have he IVC filter removed.
Another plus...I have to miss yet another day of work. Sigh... Whatever...
My boyfriend is going to drive me tomorrow and hopefully it won't be that long of an appointment. The nurse said that I can go back to work on Friday, but with light duty. So, that leaves 2 days left of work until the big day.
So here we go...1st round starts tomorrow.
Final pre-op with the surgeon.
Well, today was an interesting day. I had my final pre-op with the surgeon today. He went over how he was going to make the incisions and where. If I remember correctly, the incision will start at T2 and extend to L2. It will be titanium rods and screws as well. Now, the doctor did say that he was doing selective fusion, which means he is basically choosing the best area to fuse since I have a curve in my Thoracic (upper back) and one in my Lumbar (lower back). He says he is not going to extend to far into my Lumbar because he thinks it will correct itself due to manipulating the Thoracic. Of course, there is a chance he will have too. Just depends....
The doctor said he will have me placed in ICU for 1-2 days depending on recovery. He will also have me up and walking the next day. I will be fitted for a brace and will possibly only have to wear it for 6-8 weeks. Just depends on how I am healing. A nurse will also come to my house everyday to check on my incision site.
Now, here's the great news. He informed me that due to the possibility of forming blood clots and the family history of clots, I have to have a IVC filter placed. This contraption is inserted into my main artery and filters out the blood clots. I will have to have this placed prior to the Spinal Fusion.
Yea...more stuff, but if it helps me in the long run, the better.
Below are some pictures that took of my xrays:
September 15th, 2013
Today was one of the hardest things I've had to do. I talked to my 5 year old son today about what is getting ready to happen to his mother.
I decided to tell him at bedtime because that's when he seems to discuss his day a little bit easier than other times of day. I laid down with him and asked him if he remembers that Momma sometimes can't play because of her back. He said, "Yes, your back hurts a lot." I then hugged him as tightly as I could and told him that Momma is getting ready to have an operation to help my back feel better. He started crying saying he didn't want me to hurt. It took everything I had not to cry with him.
I told him that I was going to go to the hospital and then to his Grand-moo's house until I get better, so I will not be around him very much. I told him that he can come see me at Grand-moo's, but he has to stay with Papa (his dad) until I am stronger. My son cried and said he doesn't want me to go, but I said, "You have to stay and take care of Papa. He is scared just like you. He needs you to help him around the house and be a big man." He then replied, " Papa scared too? Oh, I have to be brave!".
I hugged him, kissed him, and told him that when I am gone, if he ever wants to see me, then to look inside his heart and that's where I'll be. I told him to also dream of me because I will be of him. That little boy is my heart and I have to be brave for him. He is the main reason I am having the Spinal Fusion. I want to know what it is like to play with my son without hurting. I want to enjoy the rest of our lives without being in pain. He is my love bug......he gives me strength.
September 11th, 2013
The Spinal Coordinator called from the hospital today to go over any questions that I may have about my stay during and after my surgery. Basically, if everything goes well I will be there for 5 days. Automatically after the surgery, I go into ICU for 1-2 days and then when I am more stable, they will move me to a regular room. I will have my own medication pump and will have plenty of medications available from the nurse if I need an extra boost. I will be measured for a brace while I am in recovery and it will be made and delivered the next day to wear anytime I am out of bed. They will have me up and walking the next day. I also will have physical therapy twice a day and begin to be weaned off the meds on day 3.
My mother and I went shopping for supplies the other day. Things like extra pajamas, yoga pants, tanks and cotton shirts to wear under the brace, and more pillows. Currently, my boyfriend and I are just trying to get our house stocked up so our son and him will be ok for a couple of weeks while I am recuperating at my mothers.
I also mentioned to the Spinal Coordinator to have a baseball bat handy in case they need to knock me out the morning of my surgery. She just laughed....I was totally serious. I have approximately 2 1/2 weeks..........I'm nervous, anxious, and can't wait to see the results.
I went to my pre-op appointment at Mease Hospital today with my mom and it was not as far as I thought it would be. Traffic in Tampa is what made the drive the worst. But when we arrived, it was easy access. Everyone who worked there was very nice and helpful.
I ended up having 7 vials of blood taken, 2 EKGs, urine test, and 2 chest x-rays. I was supposed to meet with the Spine Coordinator, but I guess she was busy that day. The RN discussed some of the things that will happen the day of my surgery. Oh, they want me to arrive at 5am that morning now too.
By the time I left, I was hungry from fasting, felt like I licked a salt block because I was so thirsty, felt like I had the life sucked out of me, and probably had enough radiation from all the xrays I've had recently to light a city. In other words, a nuclear salty slug who couldn't attract a vampire.
Scoli Club United
I created a Facebook community page called, "Scoli Club United". It's a page where people from all over the world can come together and share their experiences with Scoliosis.
When I was diagnosed with Scoliosis at 12 years old, there was hardly any information or support groups out there. Everything was a take it as it comes experience. It would have been phenomenal is there was something out there to help educate myself and my family, but since there was not, I thought I could lend a helping hand. Educating and showing people with Scoliosis that they are not alone and helping with the self esteem issues that arise, especially since we all know that our society can be cruel. I was on the front lines battling with bullying and body self image problems.
This is where not only the Facebook community page, "Scoli Club United" comes in, but this personal blog of mine that you are currently reading. If I can make one person out there realize that they are beautiful, twisted and all, then I feel I have helped. I felt very alone growing up and my goal is to make the world see that yes, only 2-3% of our population has this condition but it deserves recognition. Just because you see someone who has a hump on their back, can not stand straight, complains about back pain, or you can not see it at all because you were aesthetically lucky growing up until you bend over and cruel peers ridicule you, please know that you are special.
Go to Scoli Club United Facebook page and "Like" it and share your experiences. Whether you or someone you know has Scoliosis, please share your stories, pictures, writings, or artwork.
One day there will be better research, better education, and better treatment options for Scoliosis. We are survivors.
August 23rd, 2013
It caught up to me at work. The pain finally caught up to me to where physically and mentally I could not function. Yesterday was yet another uber busy day at work and I was assisting in a 4.5 hour sedation in an ergonomically odd position the entire time. By the time hour 3 rolled around, I was in awful pain. I was twisted in such a way at one point, that I actually could not breathe well and I began to get dizzy. I felt like was going to pass out, but I had to keep assisting.
At the end of the sedation, I was finally able to get out of the room to get some air. I could barely walk. Every step I took felt like the friction of a bunch of pebbles being ground into the pavement. I had to sneak out through the back of the building because I was hurting so bad. I cried to myself and when I got situated enough to go back inside, no one noticed. No one cared I think.
I had more patients to take and as the day went on, my body protested. My right arm became extremely weak. I kept dropping things and could not even open anything. But I need a paycheck so on and on I went.
When I got in my car I cried, when I got home I cried, and took a long hot shower. I laid flat on my back for an hour. I went to bed early as well. Today, it still hurts but not as bad. My back is sore all over and hurts on my right thoracic when I take a deep breath. Hopefully soon this pain will be a thing of the past.
5 weeks and counting....
Today is my son's first day of Kindergarten. I'm pretty sure that I was more nervous about him starting than he was. Walking with him to his classroom was unnerving and exciting. He looked like a deer in headlights when he saw all the other children. He ended up crying when it was time for me to leave and it broke my heart. My little baby boy is growing up. And yes, when I got to my car, I cried.
Today is a landmark for my family. Not only our son is a big man, but today marks an event on our schedule that brings my Spinal Fusion surgery closer. Today was the last of everything we had to take care of before all the preparations and pre-op testing began. So of course, I'm freaking out.
It is amazing how time gets away from us. One day you look around and your child was just born (I can remember it so vividly) and then poof.......he's 5 years old and your leaving him alone with a teacher that you can only hope will take care of him the way you do. Sigh....
I am dreading being wheeled into that operatory. I am dreading kissing my child goodnight the night before. I am dreading the pain afterwards. I guess I am more negative right now because now the clock is ticking louder. I keep trying to see the silver lining, but right now it's not as vibrant as it needs to be.
August 7th, 2013
I know it's been a while since I posted anything but it has been a very hectic few days. My birthday is today, my son's birthday party is this Saturday, and I have been getting everything at my job organized before my departure. Ugh...... I'm slightly stressing. I also haven't been doing too great pain level wise, but I keep trucking along. I'm still just taking Tylenol for any pain that is unbearable. So, all the time in other words!
It being my 29th Birthday has got my mind's gears turning. I'm thinking about the Spinal Fusion. I'm nervous, scared, and ready to get it over with. I find myself thinking about all the risks involved and of course, if something bad happens. It's hard not to think about the negative things even though I have been trying to be positive. Regardless of what I'm feeling, the surgery is happening.
Below is a list of risks that I found that may come along with Spinal Fusion surgery from www.spineuniverse.com that is useful to me:
Risks with Surgery
As with any operation, there are risks involved with scoliosis surgery. Your surgeon will discuss potential risks with you before asking you to sign a surgical consent form. Possible complications include, but are not limited to:
Lost in Wonderland and my name is Alice. Or so it seems because apparently I have been bonkers lately. Oh me, oh my, I'm waiting for a very important date. Only I can't be in a world chasing a white rabbit down a hole. My world is a Spinal Fusion clock tick tick ticking way too fast.
It has been brought to my attention that while I am trucking through the days at work or being home with my family, I have been oblivious to the fact that I have gone mad. Everyone says I'm still nice, funny, and thoughtful but, it seem as though I'm always somewhere else. Like I'm here but not really. I have been told that I am being distant. Trust me, I do not mean to be. My mind is on a vacation, I guess. The last thing I want is to make anyone feel unwanted.
All the stuff I have to get situated at work before my surgery, all my doctor appointments coming up, being a mother, and going into a surgery not knowing if I'll even have a job afterwards is really weighing heavy.
I will try to be knowledgeable when my mind wants to check out of Hotel Tiffany. In the mean time, please be patient with me.
"But it's no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then." - Alice in Wonderland