Oh, my gosh guys! Tomorrow (October 3rd) will be one year since my very intense scoliosis surgery. You can see my original post below. However, I have had quite a few people ask how I am doing and how my recovery has affected our family traveling. To be completely honest the LAST six months have been a wonderful blessing! I feel great, for the most part, and I have resumed almost total normal activity. So in order to help answer the scoliosis surgery questions, I am going to try my very best to honestly answer the 5 most commonly asked questions here in this post. In my experience, it was one of the best decisions I have made and it was a total leap of faith but I feel better now than I have felt in years.
*To find out who we are and about our traveling family click here – Our Family Passport About Us.
Scoliosis Surgery Questions & How Has it Affected Our Traveling?
Q. How long was your recovery?
A. In total it takes a year for the bones to fully fuse. But at 6 months into my recovery, I felt good and could start trying to do almost everything that I had done before. The first 3 months were hellish, the next 3 months were really hard, but the last six have been fantastic! Honestly, the only things I can’t do right now are some of my yoga stands and up dog will forever be impossible.
Q.What was the hardest thing about it all?
A. By far, the hardest thing was, and I am getting all sorts of personal here, that Beckham didn’t want anything to do with me at first. It was almost like he was scared of me or mad because his little world had been turned upside down. He didn’t want to talk to me, sit by me, or even acknowledge that I was around. That was really rough. Coupled with the fact that I couldn’t hold him, care for him in any way, or get down on the floor and play with him for six months just added insult to injury (literally). We put together a candy countdown to mark the end of my recovery. It seemed like it would NEVER end. But it did!!
Q. What does your scar look like now?
A. In short – gross. My brothers hate when I wear something low backed or a swimsuit because it grosses them out, but I honestly love my gross scar. It makes me feel tough haha. It is a physical reminder to me that I can do really hard things. I wear it with pride. It kind of looks like a really skinny worm stretched down my back (super attractive right :)).
Q. How is it riding on an airplane and traveling?
A. Sitting on an airplane for hours on end is never comfortable but I for sure get sore faster. I have to make sure that I am stretching a lot when I am traveling and make sure that I exercise and get some good blood flow into those muscles or else it can really hurt. The thing that hurts the most is cold weather! It is the weirdest thing but I can totally feel my rods and screws when it is cold. It is like a weird burning sensation from the inside out. I have had to make sure to bundle up really well in chilly weather. In fact, this summer in San Francisco we were riding across the Golden Gate Bridge on top of a bus (totally touristy haha) and it was windy and oh so cold. My back hurt for the rest of the day. Lesson learned! I always make sure to carry around a jacket just in case I need it.
Q. Was it worth it? Would you do it again?
A. It was totally worth it! I grew 2 inches, I feel great and I have set myself up for a much better quality of life. Would I do it again? Hum, I think I remember too much of the pain to really answer that question. I am sure in a couple of years I would say that I would do it again, but just the other day I was driving and thinking about life and started thinking about those days in the hospital and the first part of my recovery. The depression and anxiety were really hard on me and not feeling like myself took a toll. Right now, I don’t know if I COULD do it again.
Q. Any advice for someone getting ready to have something like this done?
A. Take it day by day. Do what you can one day at a time. For me, it was therapeutic to cry and express how I was feeling. Then when the frustration was out I would move on. Also, be aware of what others around you are doing to help you! Never in my life had I seen such selfless service and it was all on my behalf. I am so thankful for my wonderful family and friends and feel like they taught me so much.
So there you have it! Honestly, if any of you are getting ready for something similar, please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask questions. It was so nice for me to be able to have others to ask about their experience so I could prepare! In the end, I don’t know if anything could stop me from traveling (wink) and now that I am recovered, I am back to traveling as much as ever!
Original Post – The Story Behind the Scar
*Posted February 28th, 2017
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 its mildest, it can cause some discomfort. At its 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.
Why Teenagers Should ALWAYS Listen to Their Moms
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:
- Wait until it gets worse, hold off having any more children, see if my lungs get crushed, and suck it up and deal.
- 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.
My Scoliosis Surgery
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 a 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 :))!