I recently just went through some major changes and have some pretty awesome hardware in my body! I would like to say it was from something exotic like a shark attack or a skydiving accident, but really it is all because I didn’t listen to my mom when I was a teenager. I have scoliosis (curvature of the spine). Scoliosis can range from mild to severe and many people have it on some level. At it’s mildest, it can cause some discomfort. At it’s worst, scoliosis is disabling and can crush internal organs.
Being Back Braced – A Teenagers Dream (So not!)
I was braced in junior high and part of high school. Which was great. I mean every teenager wants to throw a big plastic back brace into the mix with the zits, bad haircuts, orthodontic work, and hormones- right? (Yep, I was THAT kid in junior high).
All was well in the back brace nerd world that I was living in. Until…. at 16, after wearing my brace like a champ for two years, I decided I had the world figured out and I was going to stop wearing it. Cleary popularity and looking cute in clothes was more important than my health. I mean scoliosis? What can that cause? (For real – I was one idiotic teenager!).
My Mom and I duked it out, I called her the brace Nazi and ended the fight with “it’s my life” and slammed the door – it was straight out of a teenage drama. Tori Spelling would be proud.
“I Told Ya So”
Ten years and one pregnancy later, I soooo wish I would have listened to my Mom. Yes, I am going to say something here that every parent wants to hear. You were right Mom!!!!!
Because I didn’t wear my brace like I should have toward the end, (all in the name of fashion – a good cause, I’ll admit) my scoliosis progressed rather rapidly. I started suffering from some pretty intense pain, and I was getting a hump that Victor Hugo’s Quasimodo would envy. My curves qualified for surgical correction. However, my organs weren’t quite compromised – but it looked like they would be in a couple of years. I was terrified, and the adult me realized just how dumb the teenage me had been over a decade ago!
I had two options:
1) Wait until it gets worse, hold off having any more children, see if my lungs get crushed, and suck it up and deal.
2) Attack the problem head on and take care of it while I was still young and have my life ahead of me, but willingly walk into a massive surgery.
After much deliberation, prayer, and consulting my spouse, doctors, and parents (I learned my lesson about not listening to them), I decided the best thing to do would be to have the surgery. I knew about the long hospital stay, the risks I was taking, and that the next year would pretty much SUCK but, it was important for me to take care of the problem so I could move on with my life.
The Scoliosis Surgery – Bionic Woman
They attached me to some serious neuro-monitors and got to work. They cut me open, stripped my muscles, straightened my spine, screwed in some screws, attached some rods, dug out my own bone and transplanted cadaver bone grafts in its place.
Then I woke up. It was horrifying and quite frankly, that is what I picture hell to be like. The recovery has so not been easy. And honestly, it has been harder than I expected. At first, the pain was excruciating. I would pass out from simple things like sitting up and walking. The worst part was, I was so dependent on others for everything! Things like brushing my hair, showering, putting on clothes, pouring myself some milk, tying my shoes, and getting in and out of bed were impossible on my own for months. (My husband is a champ! All of the sudden he had two kids, not just one.)
Life Right Now
For six months following surgery, there is to be no twisting, bending, or lifting. That makes life with a three year old REALLY arduous and puts a serious halt to traveling! My friends and family have been nothing short of spectacular and I don’t think I could do this without them. After going through something rather hard, I realize, family is everything.
The depression sank in during the winter but as I have progressed in my recovery, those feelings of helplessness have waned. We took a quick trip to Mexico, at 4 months post-op, and I braved the 2 ½ hour plane ride. I felt like I needed some sun and family time! It was heaven and really lifted my spirits. I figured if I have to lay in bed at home, I might as well lay on the beach. – Even during recovery, all I want to do is travel!
The Question Everyone Asks – Was My Surgery Worth It?
I am feeling better (both physically and mentally) and can not believe that I am five months post-op. I still often hurt and can’t twist, bend, or lift anything, but I should be able to soon! I am most looking forward to holding Beckham and being able to play and be crazy with him again. I miss being the mom that I was.
Honestly, at this point, I am not sure if I can say it was worth it or not. I am still in the throes of recovery and won’t be back to my full self for about another year. I have moments of fear and doubt that I won’t feel better ever again, or that the surgery didn’t work. Yet, overall, I feel good and have full trust in myself and my awesome surgeon.
Why I LOVE My Scar
Now I find my scar empowering and I honestly love it! I feel like it signifies just how marvelous our bodies are and that I am strong. I have had to look at this time as one big learning experience and in the end, life is about the journey right?? (Oh, and always listening to your mom. At least in matters of scoliosis :))!