I started writing this post several times and each time I got cold feet and didn’t post it. I guess because it is such a personal subject it’s hard to talk about how it has dominated my life for quite a number of years. Oh, I know I have occasionally made comments about my crummy back, but never really explained what that was all about. Last week I flew to St. Louis to meet with a surgeon who is a specialist in what is called “revision surgery.” So it’s time to explain.
Warning: I'm leaving out the gory details and technical language, but if you are sensitive about medical issues you may not want to continue.
I have idiopathic scoliosis.
Unfortunately, that didn’t end my back problems. In 2005 I developed spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the space around the spinal cord that puts pressure on the spinal cord and the spinal nerve roots. People, I have to tell you … that was the worst pain of all! I had no choice but to have another surgery, which extended the fusion a little further into my lumbar area.
I never really recovered after that surgery – I was unable to keep myself upright, and walking and standing for any length of time became extremely difficult. The surgeon insisted there was nothing wrong, so I sought out opinions from two other surgeons. Both of them told me that my fusion did not heal solid, a condition called pseudoarthrosis. I subsequently had a third surgery (2007) with a different surgeon, an additional fusion down to the sacrum, and a fourth anterior (“front”) surgery (2008) to place a metal plate in front of my vertebrae.
That’s why I went to see the surgeon in St. Louis who is one of only a handful of surgeons in the country willing to take on complicated revision surgery for a condition like mine. As you can imagine, there’s a long wait list, so I’m scheduled for surgery next March.
What I have orders to do between now and then is a specific aerobic, stretching, and weight training program. (They didn’t say it, but I will – I also need to take off 20 or 30 pounds!) I have been exercising all along but I have to re-double my efforts now, with no slacking off. Many standard exercises are forbidden to me because they are too stressful on the lumbar area or because I simply have very little flexibility. And aerobics in particular is difficult because of my bent-over condition. But somehow I have to get as healthy as I can for what will be an extremely complicated surgery.
What I would also like to do is figure out how to get some real buyers into my Etsy shop. Either that or figure out some other way to make money. I know not what. LOL! My insurance will cover the surgery, but I need to save up some money for all the extra expenses - traveling back and forth, and lodging, meals, etc., with a family member for at least two weeks for the surgery.
There … I’ve said it. It still feels a little strange to talk about this, but this is what's on my mind these days. So if you have any kind of back pain, or you are living with a chronic health problem .... I understand.