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Scoliosis Experience

My Scoliosis Experience
http://www.angelfire.com/ok2/scoliosis/scoliosisexperience.html
My page is all about my experience having Scoliosis, it also tells you about my experience going through Corrective Back Surgery. Scroll down for my story...
If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail my mom at...

Snellkae@attbi.com
If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail my mom at...
Snellkae@attbi.com

Hey! Welcome to my page. If you have any questions or concerns, please e-mail my mom at Snellkae@attbi.com. If anyone wants to talk to me, let my mom know and maybe she can hook ya up : )

Summer of '96

In April of 1996 I was a 5th grader and during the annual Scoliosis check at school the nurse saw something that she thought needed to be checked out. My mom took me to the doctor, thinking it was nothing. We came out overwhelmed. I was diagnosed with Scoliosis...but don't get me wrong, this isn't like a life threatening disease. In fact, Scoliosis is simply a curviture of the spine. But as small and simple as it may sound, it effected my life in a pretty big way...

On the advice of the school nurse, my mom made an appointment for me with my doctor to see what she thought. At that appointment we were referred on to an Orthopedic Surgeon. A week later we went to see him and he said it was a small curve and that he would just watch it closely to make sure it didn't get any worse. He scheduled me to see him again in 2 months. At that appointment in June the doctor discussed with my parents and I that my curve was increasing and it was beginning to need attention. It was time to look at wearing a brace to try to stop my spine from curving anymore. That night my mom and dad and I talked a lot about what wearing a brace would be like. Of course I just knew that it would ruin the rest of my life. My parents, like aways, tried to tell me that it wouldn't be that bad and I would survive it.

The appointment to get fitted for my brace was on in July on the 26th, my birthday...what a present! August rolled around and it was time to pick up my brace...this is one day I will never forget. I walked into the doctors office and sat down, not really expecting much. None of us had any ideas of what was going to happen or what I was going to go through. The doctor walked in holding my brace and all I could do was hold back the tears.

It took about a month and a half to finally get used to my brace. I wasn't still fully comfortable, but it wasn't that bad. To be honest, I was never fully comfortable.

All the doctors told me to wear baby powder and undershirts under my brace, but that lasted about 2 months. I think they tell everyone to wear them (at least my doctors did), but it made no difference if I did or not except in the summer. You get a little more sweaty with the undershirts. So, it's basically a preferrencial decision.

Summer of '97

YES! I had finally made it through the school year. One year of my brace life was out of the way. What a relief. But I still knew there was a lot of time ahead of me. Over 18 months...since I hadn't started my period yet.

The summer went pretty smoothly. Since the doctors recommended swimming, and we had a swimming pool, I was in heaven! I swam probably half the day, every day, all summer. I did ANYTHING to get out of wearing my brace. I despised that thing!

Fall of '98

Nothing very important happened in 6th grade or the summer before 7th (that would be the begining of 97), so I'm skipping to the end of '97...

I was pretty good about wearing my brace for the first umm...year to year in a half. Then I started slipping. 7th grade started up and I started growing up. I started caring more about the way I looked and less about the way I worked. So with that came lying (not recommended...YOU GET CAUGHT : |).

My mom's work schedule worked out so that she had two weekdays off...Thursday and Friday...so I will now admit (knowing my parents will read this..even though I think they already know), that Thursday and Friday were the only two weekdays that I wore my brace to school. Yeah, you're probably thinking, "oh, right on your parents didn't make you wear it to school 3 days!". Big HUGE fat chance. I was lying through my teeth. Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday my brace was nicely hidden in my closet.

I absolutely HATED lying to my parents all the time, but I hated wearing my brace to school even more. For some strange reason I was embarrassed by it and I thought people wouldn't accept me if they knew. I was really really wrong. My friends didn't think any less of me, and either did the people that I thought didn't know. So really, it's not worth lying.

Anyway, I got caught not wearing my brace to school about 3 or 4 times..but that never stopped me.

Winter of '99

I'm an 8th grader finally! It feels great to rule the school...lol, even though I am one of the shortest 8th graders. Yep, shortness comes with the territory of scoliosis. At least for me it did.

Actually in the fall of '98 (approximately the begining of the school year) my doctor retired so I got a new one. I instantly loved him the minute he told me I didn't have to wear my brace to school. I was on cloud nine. The first thing I did was buy all new jeans so they would fit nicely without my brace.

But back to the winter. In January I got the worst news EVER...or so I thought. The doctors told me I would probably have to have back surgery because my curve was passing the managable point. It wasn't final yet, but we knew it was a possibility. The doctors wanted to see me again in March.

March of '99

"I'm really sorry Nicole, but you'll have to have surgery." Talk about a blow to the head! I was so overwhelmed I couldn't see straight. I couldn't hold back the tears either. Years of being brave and dealing with my brace all exploded. It wasn't something I could or wanted to deal with right now. We set the date for June 25th. I dreaded that day more than anything.

June 25th

Well the day has finally arrived! Wow, I was more scared than I have ever been in my entire life.

I had to be to the hospital at 6 o'clock in the morning. Yeah right, I'm not a morning person...so that didn't help the situation. I got to the hospital, checked in, got my bracelet, and headed up to the second floor. We sat in the waiting area for about a half hour. My parents sat on a little loveseat in the waiting area and I sprawled out over their legs...I just wanted to be a little girl again and make the whole thing go away.

At about 6:30 I went back into SPU (Surgical Prep Unit). They had me take everything off and put on a gown and little green shoey slipper type things, and then lay in a bed. The first thing the nurse did was put in my IV because she said I had enough to worry about and I didn't need to sit there and worry about if it would hurt to put the IV in or not. (Note: If you ever have to get an IV...make sure they numb you! My nurse told me that:))

I was VERY scared laying in SPU waiting for my surgery, but my parents were there with me the whole time and that helped a lot! Actually they even let my aunt come back about a half hour before I went in... don't hold me to that though, I don't think they usually do that.

At about 8:30 they finally wheeled me into surgery. I remember that as I was being wheeled out of SPU I kept looking back at my parents wishing they could come. I also remember that as they wheeled me out of SPU I was crying VERY hard. When I got into the operating room the nurses all sat around and talked to me to try and calm me down. Then a guy walked up (the anesthesiologist), put something in my IV, and the next thing I knew I was in the recovery room.

Now here is sort of a diary of my recovery...

Friday 6/25 Surgery Day 9:00AM Surgery Started 1:45PM Got to recovery 3:45PM Got to my hospital room *I was on a Morphine PCA *I had a catheter *I had two IV sites, but only one was in use *Later that night they put the other IV site into use by giving me two units of blood *I started to run a temperature; got a Tylenol Suppository (YUMMY)

Saturday 6/26 Day After Surgery *I was pretty much comfortable (as long as I pushed my PCA button) *I couldn't move on my own; had to be rolled over *I started my period (I'm telling you this because it usually happens to everyone and I want you to be warned)

Sunday 6/27 Two Days Later *Started on clear liquids (nothing really tasted good, except ice) *Physical Therapy came and got me to sit and stand up...OUCH! *I'm still really tired *I still can't move on my own.

Monday 6/28 Third Day's A Charm *I walked for the first time since about 7AM Friday *I have to use a walker to assist me when I walk *Walked about 30-40ft *Started on oral pain killers *Got my catheter removed (you don't feel a thing) *I had to start getting up and going to the bathroom...with my Mom's help

Tuesday 6/29 Fourth day *Physical Therapy helped me out of bed and I walked down the hall and back (with the help of my walker) *I got my IV removed (that doesn't hurt either)...and with my IV goes my PCA : ( no more button *By the evening I walked down the hall and back with my Mom and Dad (and walker) *I was able to move a little in bed without help *Sitting up in bed & eating

Wednesday 6/30 FINALLY! *Physically Therapy helped me walk up and down the stairs *Moving in bed a lot more by myself *I FINALLY GOT TO GO HOME!!! *It was quite the task getting in the car...but I did it *I was able to sit at the kitchen table and eat dinner *With the help of my walker I could get up and down *I got to sleep in my own bed

Thursday 7/1 First Full Day Home *I was pretty frustrated because I wasn't quite able to sit in the living room yet (all the chairs are too low) *I was walking around without my walker by the late afternoon

Friday 7/2 Second Day Home *Took the first shower in a week...but my mom had to wash my hair

Saturday 7/3 Up and About *I'm starting to get some of my dignity back because I got dressed by myself finally *Went out to lunch with my parents *Went and looked at new houses, and I even climbed all the stairs

Sunday 7/4 The Fourth! *I went over to my sister's apartment to watch the fireworks all over town

Monday 7/5 Lazy *I'm proud to say I did absolutely nothing! I just needed some rest...I was very wore out

Tuesday 7/6 Big Daddy *I was able to go see the movie Big Daddy (highly recommended) with my friends *I even walked around the mall for awhile

Thursday 7/7 First Visit *This was my first time back to the doctors; he said I'm doing very good and I should even slow it down a little.

Friday 7/8 Shave *First time since surgery for shaving my legs...wow, I never knew shaving your legs could feel so good!

Saturday 7/9 That would be today! It's been just about two weeks since my surgery and I'm feeling really good. Well not like "lets go to a party" good, but I'm basically back to my normal everyday schedule. The doctor said I can't vacuum or empty the dishwasher for 6 months, as nice as it sounds you sorta start to miss it...you realize just how much your parents work you, because you start to get bored! I'm still pretty sore but looking back I think my parents and I did what was in my very best interest. It's something I will never forget, probably because I have the scar to prove it.

The first week or two is pretty hard, but I was very determined to get well fast because I hate sitting around doing nothing. I like to be the life of the party, and I couldn't very well do that with a walker. I went through a lot, but I think it was worth it. My back is straight now, my shoulders are level, and I'm about 2 inches taller.

Well it looks like it's about time to update this thing. It's been 4 weeks, since my surgery, today. I'm feeling great! I'm getting a lot of my flexibility back...I'm finally able to bend over enough to wrap my hair in a towel after my showers. If it weren't for the small amount of tightness in my middle back (feels no worse then wearing the brace... lol, in fact it feels a lot like that right now) I wouldn't even know I had had the surgery. My upper back still gets a little sore, but nothing I can't handle :) So other than the occasional aches and pains things are totally back to normal...well and the fact that I still can't do chores (schucks).

Sorry it's been so long, things around here have been hectic. Basketball season just started... my doctor isn't letting me play this season, but the coach was so disappointed that he asked me to manage the Varsity team. It's pretty fun, boring at times. Anyway, it is November 19. That means I have exactly 1 month and 6 days until I am totally clear of this whole mess. December 25th is my 6 month point, which means I can FINALLY pick up my nephew. It's been really hard not being able to pick him up, you have no idea. I have been pretty good about limiting myself, although throughout my "take it easy" recovery I have been thrown in a pool, went on rides, climbed a ladder and who knows what else. I don't really recommend the first two, you kind of get soar.

WOW! It has finally been 6 months. I can hardly believe it. I picked my nephew up for the first time, in six months, the other day and it was great. Now I never put him down. As far as my back goes, well everything seems to be fine. I don't get very many back aches anymore...only when I over do it. I'm absolutely loving life without my brace because I can actually wear clothes that fit. What a change from the clothes I used to wear. Well, that's all I have to report for now!

Well, in 2 days I will hit my 7th month mark. Amazing isn't it? I've hit yet another accomplishment! The other night I gave my parents the biggest scare yet (hey, that's what I'm here for!), I finally did a somersault! Lol, my sister says it was more standing on my head and just flopping over onto my back...but practice will make perfect. I've pretty much gotten into the complete old swing of things. I'm back to babysitting my nephew. Oh and the biggest news of all...I talked to my counselor at school and for my second semester this year I get to take Freshman PE. I was dreading taking it as a Sophomore, but everything's worked out! That's definately a plus. Well, not much more is going on right now, I hope to hear from you all soon!

WOW! Today is June 25, 2000...exactly one year since my surgery. How weird. I'm doing everything I used to. Besides the last few stages of the fusion taking place, I'm fully recovered. In fact, I'm hoping to go wakeboarding tomorrow on a friend's boat. That of course is up to my parents, but I'm ready to take it on. There's really not much to say except that I can't believe how fast a year came and went. This time last year I was in the recovery room. Hard to believe! Well, good luck to everyone on the road to recovery...it will go by fast.

November 25, 2002...It's been 3 and a half years since my surgery and things are going great. This June I will be graduating from high school. It seems like ages ago that I had the surgery. I don't seem to have any problems, however, I have noticed a few setbacks. During the winter time I find myself getting backaches when I get cold. I have credited that to my rod getting cold and my back stiffening...but I'm no doctor. The other problem I have faced, throughout the past three years, is the endless search for that perfect prom dress to hide my scar. I can't tell you how many hours my mom and I have spent dress shopping for all the dances but in the end we always find the perfect dress. Thank god my mom is so understanding and loves to shop! Aside from those two things I'm as good as new. Hope everyone else can say the same!

If there is anyone out there who is thinking about going through the surgery, has decided to have the surgery, or is just going into a brace and you want to talk, let my mom know and she can give you my e-mail address. Personally I didn't want to talk about it at the time because I wanted to experience it all on my own...but there are some things, like how you lose all dignity in the hospital, that I had talked about and it really helped prepare me. But I am very willing to talk to anyone who needs it, and if there are any family members who want to talk, my parents are also very willing.

I would just like to say thank you to everyone who was there for me while I was in the hospital...it helped me pull through, and I think it is what made my recovery so speedy. I would also like to give a HUGE extra thank you to my parents for staying at the hospital the whole time (even though I made ya go home at night dad : ))! LOVE YA!!!