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My One Year Check Up

So I'd like to give all my "Spiney Family" an update on my morning. I'll warn you, some of this is spine related, and some just "my life".

I had an appointment "down town" (45 minutes away) at 9:00am. It was a TORNADO of a morning trying to get the kids fed/dressed/in the car.... My husband who works near the dr.'s office decided to meet me there and hang out with the kids while I had my appointment. I arrived at 8:58, and found out.... my appointment wasn't till 9:50... DANG IT.

So I went back to the parking lot to tell my hubby it was going to be awhile. He decided to take them to a near by mall that has an indoor play area. We are potty training our youngest. My husband SWEARS she's "trained" and its just "me" that she has accidents with.... so they left and I went back up to wait...

I finally got called back and about that time got a text from my husband.... basically our "potty trained" daughter pooped at the top of the play area and then slid down the slide... so poop was smeared everywhere. The place was very crowded and it all had to be shut down and everyone had to leave so mall staff could "sanitize" the area..... Is it wrong that I was SOOOO HAPPY about this? lol. I was. I have a feeling he's going to be super supportive/helpful with the potty training this weekend.

I was called back to get x-rays and there was a new tech. She stood me against the wall and said, "do you have any hardware?" I just kind of chuckled and said, "Oh just wait... I don't want to spoil the surprise." She kind of smirked and said, "I need to know what area to x-ray." So I just said, "Shoulders down." She kind of rolled her eyes.... anyways, she took the x-ray and about 10 seconds later (when the image popped up on the big screen) I heard her say, "Holly Cow! You have got to come see this!!!!" Some lady walked in, never looked at me, just looked at the x-ray and said, "Oh yeah, that's {insert my name here}." lol, so that made me feel famous!

Over all x-ray looked good. My surgeon is very through... when he walked in and greeted me and everything he sat down and said, "stand up." I thought that was odd, so I did.... then he said, "pick up your coffee cup" which was on the floor so I did... and he said he noticed when I got up from the waiting room (I didn't even see him watching) that I took all my weight off my right foot and I did it again when I stood up, and when I bend over I do this "left shuffle". He said that was a sign that something was NOT in alignment. He said he wanted me to have another x-ray... I think he called it a 360? I'm not sure, but he said that he doesn't like to do but so many x-rays at a time, just his preference for patient safety (especially since us spineys have to have so many) so we'd do that next time. He showed me some items "of note" on my x-rays.. basically I still have like a 27 degree curvature at the top of my thorax, an area he DID NOT touch during surgery just because it wasn't causing problems and my surgeries were already so extensive He wanted to fix it all but since it was already totaling 17 hours of surgery with a complete spine "team" he just didn't have the "time" to do it all. He also showed me how my shoulders are not in alinement. I just laughed and said that they were so much better and I was so pleased with my "new posture". He was happy with that.... he said some women with scoliosis really struggle with the shoulder issue (makes them self conscious). He knows I have VERY LITTLE memory of last summer due to all the drugs, etc. but I told him (and maybe it wasn't appropriate but oh well) that one of the very first memories I have from after the surgeries was getting out of the shower at the rehabilitation hospital with my husband (he'd come during his lunch break and take a shower with me to help me....he even shaved my legs... now that's a good husband!) but anyways, we got out of the shower and I looked in the mirror (nekid) and the first thing I noticed was that my boobs were the same... in alinement... my entire life (since I got boobs) one has always been much lower than the other... I thought it was just a defect... but apparently once my spine was straightened, so did my boobs!!!!!!! and as a woman I was very excited about that. My surgeon just laughed and said, well, guys love boobs, we don't care too much about size/shape/ or even alinement... they are boobs! (implying that my husband probably didn't care)!!! but he was glad that I gained some confidence with that. This is something I truly love about my surgeon, he really does look at "quality of life" and takes that seriously. So anyways, we discussed my pain issues. I told him I'd like to up my gabapentin because since I drastically decreased it I've had more problems. He said that was not a problem that all in all it was a very safe drug (for me, I'm not a doctor and I certainly don't want to imply its a very safe drug for everyone) I also asked him if I could go back to physical therapy as I thought that might help. He said he'd absolutely approve that and write the order... but he said he didn't think it would help that exact pain. The problem with it (basically its like sciatica) was that we "fixed" that problem over the summer and that pain really GREATLY improved, then in March when I had to have some hard ware revision this pain returned.... the revision was NO WHERE CLOSE to the lower lumbar which is where the pain he believes is stemming from. He was concerned about this since I am fully fused in the lumbar so not exactly sure if that pain could be "fixed"... I told him up front I didn't want to treat it with medication (except the gabapentin) because the pain wasn't to that point yet... and I wanted to put off chronic pain meds as long as possible.... and I thought that PT would probably help me, or at least I wanted to try that first... so he agreed, and he said we'd take a much closer look at the next appointment when I have that "special x-ray".

I asked him about discs etc because of all I have read on this forum. Basically I have no lumbar discs... but I had some in my thorax. When the surgeon did my original surgery in 1989 he removed some of the discs of the thorax to get the fusion but not every one... he also said that the discs that were left in were NOT true disc because they have been immobilize for so long that they basically change and become calcified, so they really aren't a "disc" any more. That's sort of... weird/complicated, etc. I found out that my fusion starts at T6, I thought it was higher, but it isn't... he said that was "standard" for the time period I had my original surgery... and that the good news was that if that top curve worsened over time, it could still be fixed without **hopefully** going in to the cervical spine.

As he was looking through the images he made a comment (and I wish I could remember the exact words he used, but I don't) but basically he said, "every time I think of you I'm not sure if this is a positive result of all my training/work/experience or truly my ineptness. (I know he said ineptness)." I was like, "what do you mean?" and he said, well I did put you through 5 surgeries to get here, and I gave you foot drop that second surgery (he brings that up a lot, I think he was devastated that happened, though I knew before to expect nerve damage) ... and I just looked at him and said, "don't you remember the first time we met I couldn't walk? I was in tremendous pain? I was in a wheel chair/crutches? and now I'm living my life." When I started having problems every surgeon I spoke with basically took one look at the x-ray and said nothing could be done (it was too complicated of a case) so I'd just have to learn to "accept" this. I like the fact he doesn't have a huge ego, he is very "human". I appreciate that.

So anyways... that's my update. I doubt very few people will ever make it through all of this long post, but I'd appreciate comments... It's been a long hard year and it feels great to say I'm "back to life"... might not be perfect, but I'm happy.
33yo mom of two. My surgical history...preadolescence scoliosis, kyphosis, and a hot mess.... 5 spine surgeries and lots of items added I wasn't born with (titanium, peek, surgical steel). Guess cremation is out. TSA loves me.


  • Although I have seen you over the last few months on here as a massive support to others and an incredible story behind your own spine issues, I still read the above and was engrossed in the content. It's amazing to think of all that you have experienced throughout your journey, yet you still give off such a positive view on your situation and that also streams through to those you offer assistance to. Thank you on behalf of others including myself that you have helped, and keep up the good work :-)
  • AllMetal,
    Even before I took on the mod status , I used to read your posts. They always are so positive and upbeat, and can do...it's obvious that you not only acknowledge how far you have come , but appreciate each day and live it to it's fullest, in whatever form each new day brings. You haven't let the problems with your spine overtake your life , instead, you truly learned to live with it being a part, of your life.
    I think that is what is so real about your posts, what attracts others to follow your posts and to take to heart what you have to say.
    I think that is why your surgeon is so human with you, because he knows where you were, and where you are now, and knows that you appreciate what it took for all of you to get where you are today.
    I know you inspire me.....
  • Of course that's not wrong! I think any mom could appreciate that "lesson"! I'm happy to hear you're doing so well, you have a fantastic surgeon!
    Lumbar laminectomy L-4/L-5, 2006
    XLIF with posterior pedicle screws L-4/L-5, 4-23-2013
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