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Erica—Jackson, TN

My name is Erica and I am 13 years old. In June of 2001, when my family and I were on vacation, my mom noticed that my left shoulder blade stuck out a significant amount and I couldn't stand up straight. When we got back home my mom told me to stand up straight. She looked at my back and realized that something was wrong, so she set up an appointment with my family doctor. The doctor told me that I had Scoliosis and recommended that I go see another doctor right away.

At the end of July 2001, I had an appointment with a doctor that specialized in Scoliosis. After the doctor examined my x-rays, he told me that I had a forty-degree curve at the top and a fifty-degree curve at the bottom and that I would need surgery. This was shocking news to my family and me; I had been expecting to just get fitted for a brace. My doctor also noticed how shocked I was so he told me to read some books on Scoliosis and then come back in three weeks. I found that iScoliosis.com and the book, "Stopping Scoliosis," were the most helpful. When I went back to the doctor at the end of August 2001, my doctor set my surgery date for Tuesday November 13, 2001, and explained the surgery to me. Instead of having a bone taken from ribs to fuse my spine, I chose to use cadaver bone.

The date that I had been dreading had finally arrived. When I got to the hospital I was taken to my hospital room and given some medicine to help relax me. The next thing I knew I was in the operating room inhaling my cherry air (I got to choose the flavor of anesthesia I wanted to inhale) and then I was asleep. I was told the surgery took five hours. When I woke up I was in a lot of pain but thank goodness for my morphine pump. On Wednesday, I was moved out of ICU and into a hospital room. I was swelled and sick because of the anesthesia. I could only have ice chips. The physical therapist came and sat me up on the side of my bed, I felt really dizzy. I felt a little better on Thursday but I still hurt a lot. I got to have a little bit of water to drink. When the physical therapist came she sat me up in my chair. I didn't sit in it long though because it was uncomfortable. On Friday, I could still only have liquids because my stomach hadn't waken up yet. The physical therapist came and helped me walk to the door of my room and then back to my bed. On Saturday, I got to have solid food and I walked all the way down the hall. I finally got to go home on Sunday (I spent six days in the hospital).

It has now been almost four months since my surgery and I am doing great. I still can't bend or twist at the waist, but I'm hoping that my doctor will tell me I can this summer. My incision is fourteen inches long and is still in the stage where it is pink. My curve is now at fifteen degrees at the top and bottom, it had curved to sixty degrees by the time of my surgery so this is a big improvement. I hope my story helps to ease your fears of having surgery.

My Hospital Diary

Day before surgery

Today I had to go for my lab work at the hospital. When I got to the hospital I talked with a nurse and she told me when to eat my last meal, drink for the last time, what time to be at the hospital, and how long my hospital stay would be. After I finished talking with her, I went to the lab to have blood and urine tests done. When I finished my lab work I talked with an anesthesiologist about what to expect before and after surgery.

Day 1

I got up at 3:00 a.m. in order to be at the hospital at 5:30 a.m. to check in. I sat in the lobby until a nurse came to take me to my room. When I got to my room, a nurse came and took my temperature and blood pressure. After that, another nurse came and drew blood from my arm and glued electrodes to my head. The nurse also gave me some medicine to relax me. When I was finished with all of the before surgery work, I got on a bed and a man rolled me to the bunny room where I got to pick out a toy. The bunny room is where you stay with a bunch of other kids until they roll you to the operating room. While I was in the bunny room I met a 14-year-old boy that was going to have brain surgery.

Before I knew it, I was laying in the operating room with a gas mask on. The cool part about the gas mask was that I got to choose the flavor I wanted to inhale. (I choose cherry). I was told the surgery took about 5 hours. The next thing I knew I was waking up with a bright light in my face and in a very uncomfortable position. They had me lying on my back in a hard bed without any pillows, and I was in a lot of pain. I thought maybe I could pull myself up or roll over by using the bed rails, but the nurses told me to just lay down. I knew I was still partly out of it because their voices sounded like echoes.

Day 2

This morning a doctor came and took the drain tube out of my back, but I didn't feel anything because I had really been pumping my morphine pump. After he took the drain tube out of my back he put my ice vest back on. The ice vest was wrapped around the top part of my body and kept my back from swelling. Later on a nurse came and rolled me back to my hospital room. When I got to my room I was very sick because my anesthesia was wearing off. The nurse gave me some medicine to help me feel better and it made me sleep almost all day. The physical therapist came this afternoon and had me sit up on the side of the bed. I felt dizzy. I don't remember much about today except that I was sick, in a lot of pain, and my eyes were almost swelled together. My arms were also swelled.

Day 3

I felt a little better today, but I had a really rough night. During the night I had a fever and my heart rate went way up so the nurse called my doctor at his house and he said I could have some Tylenol. The physical therapist came today and had me sit in a chair for an hour. It was a little uncomfortable. The doctor came and took the bandage that covered my whole back off. I could still only have ice chips and little sips of water.

Day 4

Today the physical therapist came and had me walk to the door of my room and then back to my bed. I had to hold on to the physical therapist while I walked because I felt really wobbly. I also sat in my chair for an hour. The pain wasn't as bad today. I could still only have liquids.

Day 5

Today I felt a lot better. I walked all the way to the window at the end of the hall. I also sat in my chair twice today for an hour each time. I got to eat solid food.

Day 6

Today a doctor came to see me and told me that my doctor said that I was doing so good I could go home today or tomorrow. I chose to go home today. The nurse came and took the IV's out of my hands. It really hurt when she pulled all the tape off. My dad and brother loaded all of my flowers and balloons into the car, and then a nurse rolled me to my car in a wheelchair. Even though all of the nurses and physical therapists were very nice to me during my hospital stay, I was glad to be going home.

Risks

In addition to the possible benefits of spine surgery for the treatment of scoliosis, there also are potential risks. These include tissue or nerve damage caused by the improper positioning and placement of implants or instruments; the disassembly, bending, and/or breakage of any or all of the components; nonunion (or pseudarthrosis), delayed union, or mal-union; and postoperative changes in spinal curvature, loss or correction, height, and/or reduction. Pressure on the skin in patients with inadequate tissue coverage over the implant could result in skin penetration, irritation, internal scaring, tissue death, and/or pain.

IRN 11602-1.0-04

After reading this please keep in mind that all treatment and outcome results are specific to the individual patient. Results may vary. Complications, such as infection, blood loss, or nerve damage are some of the potential adverse risks of spinal surgery. Please consult your physician for a complete list of indications, warnings, precautions, adverse events, clinical results, and other important medical information.

  • Published: May 20, 2002
  • Updated: June 10, 2010