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

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Stop Those Curves!

What can you do to prevent surgery?

If you know that you or someone else has scoliosis, the first thing you can do is watch it closely. Get a doctor who will take x-rays every few months.

Have good posture. Although research shows that posture doesn't affect scoliosis, it affects a lot of things like kyphosis (humpback), and others. Plus, it looks better. But that's just my opinion. And I wouldn't feel as tall if everyone around me sat up straight.

If that's not enough, and you have to wear a brace, well... wear the brace. It sounds simple, and it might be for some people, but it's a lot easier said than done for others. I actually understand both sides. For the first few years, I didn't have a problem wearing my brace faithfully. But the last few years were different. There were several factors like my pinched nerve, not being able to wear a lot of my clothes, discomfort, the heat, etc. Unfortunately, I would sometimes let those things discourage me from wearing it like I should have. Think long-range. You might be able to save yourself a lot of pain, money, and who knows what else, just by wearing your brace.

No matter how hard you try to stop those curves, there will always be "brace failures". I'm one of them. And now I'm a spinal fusion survivor!


Having a spinal fusion can be a very humbling experience. Neither of my parents fully understood how much they would have to do for me. And I had no idea how much I would be relying on them, either. So here we go. I'll do my best to give you that idea, so you can have fewer surprises.

Obviously, you will not be able to roll over in bed by yourself for a while. It was about a month after I got home for me. My parents would also help me get up and lie back down and gave me my pain medicine, as well.

And then there were times when I was already frustrated by my trig homework, but then I would drop my pencil. Hmmm... There was no way I could get that. So that's when my sister came in handy. (Until she got sick of picking up pencils and found an excuse to go do something else.)

The things we do every day without a second thought suddenly become difficult. For example, you will probably need help changing your clothes. Try putting a pair of socks on (nylons are even harder!) without bending your back. It's not as easy. Now imagine that you have an incision all the way down your back that is healing. Those socks just became your enemy. But thankfully, my mom was always there to help me change clothes.

Taking a shower was hard at first. Most importantly, you do NOT want to fall. We used a shower stool that I could sit on while my mom washed my hair. You also won't be able to reach your feet for a while. So I suggest that you don't try taking a shower on your own without help until you feel like you can do it.

Here's something I never thought of: going to the bathroom. When I first got home, I couldn't sit without a lot of support behind my back. So buy an extra pillow or two to put behind you when you need to use the restroom, and then you can just throw them away when you don't need them anymore. And if it helps, you can buy those high toilets that I think older people use, because it really is difficult to get up and down without accidentally using back muscles. Just put your feelings aside, and let your mother help. It will save you some pain.

There's no room for pride when it comes to back surgery. Don't worry about asking for help, because you'll need it, and you'll be thankful you got it.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Back to School

When the time comes to go back to school, there are a few things you can try out to make the transition as easy as possible. Here are some ideas:

~ Schedule your surgery during the summer. That's a good start. But if that's not possible, then keep reading.

~ Keep an extra set of books at home. You most likely won't be able to carry them back and forth.

~ Leave class a few minutes early. This will help you avoid getting bumped in the hallway.

~ Let your teacher know if you can't sit any longer. There were a few times when I first returned to school that I just couldn't handle sitting that long. But my teachers and principle were so understanding, and they let me go lie down when I needed to.

~ Don't be embarrassed to bring pillows. I brought two for a little while, a big one and a small one. Let's face it. Chairs at school are never comfortable, but after major back surgery, you don't want to deal with that.

I was a little nervous about going back to school at first, but honestly, it really helped me. Seeing people everyday took my mind off the pain. And I was hitting the books again before I knew it. Of course, going back too early can make you pretty stressed. I felt that way, especially with trig and government. You have to understand that when you go back, you then have to try to keep up with all the work and recover at the same time. But once you're ready, you'll know, and you will have reached another exciting step of progress.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tomorrow's Forecast...

100% chance of rain. I can feel it. Literally.

I mentioned this fact briefly in another post. But this is something that I didn't know about before my surgery. It's nothing life-changing, but it takes getting used to. Any time there is a fairly fast weather change, or rain is coming, etc., I get pretty sore. Once in a while it will seem pretty intense, but I think if I didn't have to sit through classes all day, it wouldn't be quite as bad.

Through experimentation, I have found some things that help ease the pain. For starters, if it's possible, lying down usually helps a lot. If it doesn't, try sticking a pillow under the spot that hurts. Also, showers actually relieve a lot of my back pain. So if you want to take 3 or 4 showers a day, I suppose you could. And then heating pads. When living with back problems, a heating pad is a must. You can also get these really convenient heat patches that you can stick on your back that last for about 8 hours. They are absolutely wonderful, and depending on what you like, IcyHot will give you more of the ice-pack feeling, while others are heat only (which is what I usually prefer).

Yes, it's something you will live with for the rest of your life. But compared to the pain and problems you could be having had you not had this surgery, I would say it's probably worth it. It simply makes you appreciate the sunny days more than you used to.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Got Blood?

I really hate blood. And can you imagine someone with hemophobia having extensive surgery? I can't either.

Good news. (And you can take this seriously from me, because I pass out every time I walk into a hospital, get blood drawn, etc.) I had no problem at all when I was in the hospital when it comes to blood and IV's. I usually wasn't conscious enough to realize I had so many tubes and things, and when I did notice, it didn't even faze me. I did have a bad experience the week before when I got blood drawn, though.

And that brings up an important point. Because of the extensiveness of this surgery, you will need blood. You can give it yourself, if it doesn't bother you, and that's actually the best way to do it. Or you could have others do it for you, like I did. But they ended up being able to save my own blood and put it back in me. Your doctor will give you all the instructions you need for giving blood or getting it from someone else.

I had problems with anemia after my surgery when I got home, and it lasted for a few months. I would get really dizzy. When I laid in bed at night, it felt like everything was spinning. Sometimes, I would almost pass out when bending over at the waist. My doctor had me take iron pills, and I no longer experience that.

But don't worry about the blood and IV's and things. You probably won't even notice. All you hemophobics out there, I'm right there with you to tell you that it's going to be ok.