Like a caterpillar waiting inside it's cocoon to become something beautiful, I was diagnosed with Scoliosis at the age of 12 and have waited for 16 years and approximately 2 months to become this majestic creature. My life is now a blank slate where not only do I have to go back to school, but I have to find another career. I also have to regain my self assurance and esteem. Like the butterfly, I have finally been able to sprout my uniquely flawed wings and search for my new beginning. This is my chance to prove to myself that I am beautiful.
Hopefully my experiences have assisted you with yours. Remember that you are beautiful inside and out. Never listen to the negativity because it will bring you down. Be strong for yourself and stay positive. Like the butterfly, you will spread your wings and fly to places you never could of without Spinal Fusion surgery. You are not alone in this battle. You are a survivor.
Battle scars and all.
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!
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
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.
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 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.
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:
To be so strong that nothing
can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity
to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel
that there is something in them
To look at the sunny side of everything
and make your optimism come true.
To think only the best, to work only for the best,
and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others
as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past
and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times
and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself
that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear,
and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world,
not in loud words but great deeds.
To live in faith that the whole world is on your side
so long as you are true to the best that is in you.
― Christian D. Larson
A couple of weeks ago, I wasn't able to hold a book I was reading with my right hand. All of a sudden I dropped it. My thumb lost all strength. I kept trying to bend it but it would't do it all the way. The next morning, it felt weaker but worked better. Well, yesterday I was at my mother's house and the craziest thing happened... I wasn't able to use my right arm very well. Everything was very heavy, I was shaky, and I could not open anything. That is the first time my arm has done that. It began when I was driving to her house.
All day long my right arm hurt and was numb at the same time. From my shoulder to the palm of my hand where my thumb meets it. I could not open a juice bottle. I was also attempting to cut a pork chop at dinner and I couldn't. I honestly could not grip my right hand around the knife and apply pressure/weight to cut it up! My mother had to cut my food up for me. I am going to be 29 years old in August and my mother had to cut my food up for me to eat. Do you have any idea what that feels like? How scary that is? My mom didn't know what to think. It scared her. It scared me.
It must be a pinched nerve from the contorting and twisting that my spine has done. With my spine pulling more to the right, it was just a matter of time before more numbness and other pains began. But temporary atrophy/pain in my dominant arm? If it gets more frequent, it will effect my life in every imaginable way. I'm to young to feel this way. Like I said on my homepage of this site, "Your spine is like an aging dock......Two choices then become present: either leave it alone and eventually it will rot away or rebuild". My remodeling date is set for October 3rd.
To be honest with you, I never thought Yoga would be able to relax me or be beneficial to my health. With this Spinal Fusion surgery coming up though, it has me thinking about my life. The tension and negativity that I have carried throughout my life not only made the muscles in my back tight and hurt more, my mind was hardly ever clear. Let me tell you, I have only been doing yoga for a couple of weeks and I can already feel a difference in my muscles when I do the poses. My attitude is changing as well. I have noticed that I let negativity just roll off me, unlike in the past. I got to say....I am liking it. I can see myself doing this for possibly my whole life.
Yoga has positive effects on your body's systems too. Muscles, skeletal system, circulation, glands, immune system, nervous system, and mind. It teaches you to stay grounded, to breathe, and relax. I am mad at myself for not trying Yoga sooner. It doesn't hurt my back; it stretches it really well.
I am still a newbie but hopefully one day I'll be a pro. I really enjoy Yoga and would recommend to to anyone.
Where is the awareness?
Did you know that June is National Scoliosis Awareness Month?
Did you know that the educational tools to teach about Scoliosis are prehistoric?
Did you know that 4 states in the USA have completely omitted the Scoliosis screenings from Public School systems because they thought it was pointless?
Did you know that there are hardly any charities or support groups out there for us?
Did you know that only approximately 3% of the population have some form of Scoliosis?
Did you know that YOU can do something about this?
Stand up and make it known that you are a survivor. Embrace your curves!
I decided to make an appointment at an Orthopedic office about 2 months ago because the pain started to get intolerable. I can barely make it through a day of work. I'm stuck in ergonomically horrible positions for someone like me. Why couldn't they tell me before I started school for dental assisting, " If you have a bad back, do not pursue this career." Private college be truthful? Ha! Yeah right.
Anyway, I arrived at my appointment an hour early. I was so nervous. It poured down rain on the way there and I was yelling at my boyfriend because I thought we'd be late. Poor Yvenson. He just kept calm and kept telling me it would be fine.
He keeps me grounded.
When I was called to go back to a room I thought I was going to puke. 11 years is too long to keep this waiting.... I changed into my gown and took x-rays. The Physician's Assistant came in and got a run down on what's going on and why I came. She checked my reflexes and any areas that did not feel normal to me. Besides the constant thoracic pain, left shoulder feeling on fire, no feeling in my left arm and hand, right palm numb, and hips hurting to walk.... I felt great.
The doctor came in and told me something I never expected. My curve progressed to 62 degrees. My heart fell into the pit of my stomach. It took everything I had not to cry. He said I needed surgery or else it will keep getting worse. It has started to push on my lungs. I will become disabled by the time I am middle aged if I do not do anything. On top of that, my curve has now begun to curve outwards causing my right shoulder blade to protrude.
The surgery will last minimum of 6 hours and I would be opened from basically the point right above my shoulder blades to right above my hips. All types of rods and screws will be placed. He says that he should be able to get my curve to at least 22-24 degrees. Fantastic! That would be like a having a brand new back!
The doctor gave me the information I need on what to do if I decide to have the surgery. His office staff was really nice and told me I can come back to consult again if need be. No paralysis, impairments, or deaths on this doctor's table either.
I have to do it. I have too. My son is counting on me. I do not want to be in a wheelchair or be disabled any worse than what I am.
I felt like I got sucked into another dimension. Yvenson drove home. I do not remember anything that was said. I feel like I am in mourning. Like I'm mourning the normal straight spine I never had. I feel like a freak.
I have not slept tonight.....
New diagnoses: Right Thoracic Kyphoscoliosis