II Corinthians 12:9-10

"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities... for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."
II Corinthians 12:9-10

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Big Zipper

DISCLAIMER: This post is not for the weak of stomach. (Although, if I can handle it, I bet you can too.)

So, you want to know what really goes on during a spinal fusion? I thought so. I'll do my best not to be very graphic.

You can have an anterior or posterior spinal fusion. Anterior goes through the front, while posterior goes through the back. I had posterior. The surgeon stretches the spine with his cranking device, which straightens it. He takes the bone graft from your hip and uses it to fuse your vertebrae together. This will make your hip very sore for a little while. It usually takes anywhere from 1-2 years to completely harden, or "set." He puts a titanium rod on each side of the spine and screws them in. These rods are permanent. If you wanted them removed, you would have to basically break the fused bone, and the whole thing would've been pointless. And there you have it. Seven hours later, it's all over with.

I was left with an awesome 18-inch scar on my back. They call it:
The Big Zipper!
I also had flat back syndrome. Basically, my lower back was straight, and it didn't have the inward curve it was supposed to have. I had never even noticed it. So my surgeon reduced two curves, and gave me an additional one!

For a few months after surgery, I was so embarrassed about the way I looked. My new curve made my ribs stick out, and I felt like the curve was way too much. But as I healed, I gained my muscle back, and I could support myself. It still looks a little funny to me, but everyone always says that you can't even tell. Either way, it's the way I am now, and pouting over something so insignificant is not going to get me anywhere in life (except depressed).

It has been just over a year now, and my scar is sadly getting more difficult to notice. But I'm so proud of it!

In the left picture, you can see the tape over my scar. I would recommend that you leave it on as long as you can. They will eventually fall off in the shower or something. If you try to pull them off early, it can be very painful.

So now you know. That was about 7 or 8 hours' worth in several paragraphs. I would personally like to thank the person who was brave enough (if brave is the right word) to undergo the very first spinal fusion ever.

1 comment:

  1. Katie, this is a beautiful blog. I had my surgery in 1994, before the internet. I know you are helping other young people deal with our same situation. I see a link to the shriners hospital. I'm going to dig further in your blog, because what a coincidence! Mine was done at the shrine hospital but in Salt Lake City! I also am a teacher, only I'm out for a little whole raising kiddos. Thank you for reminding me what a positive experience it was. It made me strong and saved my life. God bless you!