restrictions

So I was watching an old surf video and something struck me today...if I have this surgery I will probably NEVER be able to surf again! Not that I've been hitting the waves much recently, but I had always figured that once I felt up to the effort, I'd be back out there. But I realized as I watched the surfers in the video that after being fused from T1-L5, I would not be able to make the arching motion required to get up on the board anymore:

Being fused currently at L2-3, I already struggle with this motion, but with a rod going all the way up and down, I think it will be impossible...

--me in my pre-surgery snowboarding glory--
I have made several good friends through the National Scoliosis Foundation Forum and have been chatting with one young lady in particular about how active you can be after the surgery. She was an avid snowboarder before she had the fusion at age 25. She like me, was progressing at about 1 degree a year and decided she just wanted to get it over with while she was young, strong, and healthy. Her surgeon has cleared her for snowboarding at a year and a half post-op. She is going to let me know how it goes this winter! I too LOVED snowboarding, and have missed it quite a bit since my 1st surgery back in 2007.

I think I may be able to do it again some day, and it gives me a little encouragement, to think that if I have to give up surfing forever, I MAY be able to snowboard...

I guess it just hit me watching that video, how much my life has changed and will continue to change post-op. I wish that all those summers out on the waves, I had taken a moment to realize how blessed I was. But it never entered my mind that I wouldn't be doing exactly that the rest of my life.

I appreciate all the time I had out there, and I will definitely swim again (swimming is VERY good for post-op scoli patients) but it looks like from here on out, I will only get to enjoy surfing by watching my old videos....
--my boards keeping each-other company--

clarity...

1:19 PM Posted by Rebecca 0 comments

Good news! My little niece Eva Noelle was born November 13th. I got to be there when she made her debut, and am so happy for my sister and her husband. My husband and I have been wanting a baby of our own for quite some time. But when you have 3 spinal surgeries in just as many years, baby-making is not that easy!

After my last surgery, back in August of 2009, about 6 months post-op, I felt I was ready to start trying. However, that feeling didn't last too long, as I soon began to feel my back getting worse, and felt all kinds of discomfort that was probably masked over the the last 3 years because of the massive amount of painkillers I had been on. I could also see my right shoulder, which has always been a little bit further forward than the left, had become much more pronounced. Concerned, I went to my scoli doctor, and it was as I suspected, I have progressed about another degree over the last year. That visit with my doctor produced a flurry of thoughts about the potential of surgery. I had always had a feeling I was going to have it at some point. When you live with scoliosis long enough, I think surgery is ALWAYS in the back of your mind. But up until that visit, I had never thought I would have it so young. It was almost a relief, as I have been wondering WHEN for so many years, now all I worry about is HOW...
How will I get though ANOTHER surgery?
How will this affect my husband?
How long before we get to have a baby???

A strange thing happened when I left the hospital after getting to meet my niece. As I made the long drive home that night, I had an intensely clear moment of clarity. I did NOT want to get pregnant any time soon. I thought I would come home with baby fever, wanting to throw caution to the wind and and just cave into my desire for a child. Instead, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to have the surgery before I could EVER consider going through the physical demands of pregnancy.

I am glad God gave me that clarity. I have been praying for it for months. I'm charging forward towards this beast of a surgery, and know that when the time is right for us, we'll get to have our baby.

I know that God withholds no good thing from those who are walking in His ways. I believe He will give us our blessing in His Perfect time.

"For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly." Psalm 84:11

For your viewing pleasure...

Here is an animation I found of the surgery. The only difference is my fusion would not just be on my lower (lumbar) half. My fusion would start around the T1-2 (Thorasic) to the L 4-5. YIKES.

A Little History...

I have decided to let you in on what's been going on inside my head over the last 6 months. I am considering having the biggest orthopedic surgery anyone can have. That is, scoliosis surgery. But in order to talk about today, I need to tell you about yesterday:

 I was diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis around the age of 12. At that time, I had a double major S curve measuring around 41 degrees on top, and 42 degrees on the bottom. Here's a picture of what my curves looked like...this isn't me, but my x-rays looked almost identical to this at that age:
Those curves were very large, but not  large enough for the surgeons we were seeing to recommend surgery. We opted to wear a Charleston Night Bending Brace and to "watch and wait." I wore that uncomfortable contraption every night until I stopped growing. It kept me from getting any worse, and was told by my doctors that now that I had finished growing, I would never need to worry about my curves progressing. In their words, my back was just like everybody else's, it just looked a little different. I was told to go on with my life, and not to worry about it.

Well, if only they had been right! I am now 28 years old, and my curves are now measuring around 52 degrees both top and bottom. When I get updated x-rays, I'll post them on here so you can get an idea of the progression. My curves are starting to deform my shoulders and have been causing all kinds of pain for years. Now that I have reached over 50 degrees, my current surgeon has said that if I want to go ahead with the surgery to correct my scoliosis, we can. But..and here's the BIG but...I don't HAVE to have it until I get up around the 60 degree range. And there is no telling if I'll ever progress to that point. I could remain where I am currently, or I could progress 3 to 5 degrees in as many years.

So over the last 6 months, I have been praying every day trying to decide what is best. I have already undergone 3 spinal surgeries to deal with a herniated disc that was causing nerve damage that most likely resulted because of my scoliosis. To undergo another surgery, and this surgery is the mother of all orthopedic surgeries, is a tough pill to swallow. But I also don't want to have to have the surgery after I have children. Want to know why? Well here's a description of the post-op life for around 6 months...
-no bending
-no bending
-no bending...
Did I mention no bending? Don't think it's that big of a deal? Try this experiment...
Day One:
Mark on a note pad every time you bend,
starting from the moment you wake up to the moment you get in bed.
Day Two:
For every mark that you have on your pad, DON'T BEND.
I'm serious! Try putting on your pants, feeding your dog, changing the toilet paper roll...

Anyway...that's enough of that. It's hard to imagine recovering from such a monumental surgery with a few kids running around my house. It can be done, and I've talked with several women my age who have had to do exactly that...and every one of them has said if they had known then what they know now, they would have absolutely done the surgery before.

So...I haven't made the final call yet, but I would love to have your prayers as I mull over whether to give up my flexibility in exchange for the knowledge that I won't have to worry about my curves getting worse...

I'll keep you posted!