Scoliosis, My Personal Journey with Dealing with a Curved Spine
My personal journey with scoliosis
I want to share my story, a journey really, with scoliosis and hope that it may help someone else that is going through it or knows someone that is. Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine and it can be mild or severe.
My scoliosis was found when I was just 8 years old. It was never noticeable from the outside, you would never have known anything was really wrong. My hips were a very tiny bit off, one very slightly higher than the other. This is a sign of a lower curve. I went to get it all checked out and the doctor came back and shared the news.
I was so young, I don't think I fully understood what was happening, but I didn't really care. I was just a little girl that loved to play and run and have a good time. Before long, I was fitted for a Milwaukee brace. This is an upper body brace that covers a majority of your torso. It can be worn under clothes luckily. I had a small lift put in my shoe, to try to cause my hips to be a little more even.
Needless to say, I didn't like the brace, but had to wear it to school and when I was sleeping and as much as I could. I do recall taking it off at school, and I was never teased or made fun of, and in fact it turned out to be a rather "cool" thing. I had friends that helped me to take it off, then they would ask if they could PLEASE try it on! They thought it was very cool, and so I felt blessed in that regard as I look back.
Did the brace and exercises help to prevent surgery?
Well, now that I am looking back, I need to say that I probably could have worn my brace more. Some doctors say that a brace isn't corrective, in terms of correcting an already curved spine. The goal of a brace is to keep a curve from getting worse as a child continues to grow. The brace makes it difficult for a spine to grow any way but straight. I have heard however, of braces helping people with their curves if they wear it as long as they ought to every day. Especially with lower curves, the brace can be helpful.
So I tried doing my exercises that had been prescribed, as well as wearing my brace, but I admit I didn't fully do it as much as I should have. By the time I was ten years old, my doctor said that I needed to have surgery. They would put a Herrington rod , which is just about the size of a pencil, alongside my spine. Then take a small piece of bone from my hip bone, and put it right next to the bar and my spine. These 3 things would fuse together and become one, and my spine would stay straightened. The doctor wanted to fix only the worst of my two curves, because otherwise my growth would be severely stunted. So this was the plan.
My Surgery - Use of a Herrington Rod
The time came for my surgery, and I felt just fine, even though I was only 10 years old. The hardest part for me was just the shot before the surgery on the morning of. The huge needle didn't hurt me, but the thicker medicine really really hurt me. I never minded shots and thought myself very brave in that regard. This made me cry, and it was very hard for my mother and my sister had to leave the room. I imagine now that anesthesiologists have more resources to draw from. Its been 30 years ago now! If you think about it, it had to be strong enough to cause me to be "out" for quite a while and for such a serious surgery.
The time came, and I had to be wheeled down the hall, and I was getting groggy. I felt fine though, and was kind of excited to get my back straightened out, because I didn't like the brace.
I woke up later...very groggy, and was just sleepy a lot. I had to be put into a stryker frame, a bed that has your body sandwiched in between the two outer parts. This would be turned over every few hours, and it helps to prevent bed sores, while keeping a back patient's spine completely immobilized. This was critical for the spine to be still, and to allow the fusion to take place.
I became afraid of the pain shots, and whenever they asked me if I had pain, I never did. They didn't always believe me though, and often had to give me some routine pain shots in the hip. I grew stronger every day, and I had an excellent surgeon for which I am still VERY grateful to. He was simply wonderful.
Recovery and my life since surgery
Soon, I was to learn how to walk and get balance again. Its one of the down sides to being off your feet for so long. I never needed any transfusions for which I am so grateful. That went well, and need to say that to anyone wondering if visiting a patient in the hospital is a good idea or not, please assume it's a good idea unless you hear otherwise. My days were truly brightened by visitors. I had friends come, friends of my parents come, and I can't tell you how many stuffed animals I got! This became something that made me smile, and my sister created a chart for which we kept track of visitors, so I could remember to thank them later. It meant a lot to me.
One day, it was the day to get out my stitches and I remember being very nervous about it. It was no big deal though. I got through it ok, and had on a new brace, that fit like a glove and that was completely straight! No more curved spine, and this brace felt like wearing no brace at all, for now I was straightened. I had many people praying for me, and I prayed a lot myself. I felt peace because of this.
For the next nine months, I was to always wear this brace to ensure complete and proper healing. To anyone dealing with this, its wonderful to get things taken care of. I know they deal with things a bit differently now, and that its only better than before.
I was to have a second surgery on my spine, when I was 14, because the other curve never got better. The date was set, and I was sad about this, but we decided to pray for my back, pray boldly and ask God to make it straight. We went for a pre - op appointment, and the x-ray showed my back suddenly didn't need another surgery. I never did need it, and I am so thankful! I just wanted to share how I have lived a very happy life, and have a very strong spine and have done all kinds of things. I am grateful to the medical research that has been done, and my doctor, and to God and my family for helping me through so much. I would encourage anyone to stay on their course of treatment that may be dealing with this, and know that scoliosis is a very temporary condition for children. They just need to get through those growing years. The future is bright.
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© 2010 Paula
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