Tag Archives: xrays

More Inches, Less Degrees

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Well, it’s been a few weeks since I last posted. There have been many times that I have had¬†very good intentions about posting, but circumstances have always interfered just as I’ve been about to sit down and start writing… However this time I’ve managed to actually get as far as starting to type, so hopefully I’ll have managed to write up a post of sorts before the day is over. ūüôā

I’m just over seven weeks post-op now, and feeling great! I personally think that the six week mark¬†was when I stopped improving gradually… and improved in a dramatic way all at once. At about six weeks I was suddenly able to sit up for much longer without getting uncomfy, go pretty much all day without having to lie down (although I still usually have to have a short lie down around dinner time) and generally do things like normal again. I get barely any pain now, apart from an achy shoulder blade, which will hopefully resolve soon. The most I’ve had to do in terms¬† of pain-relief has been heat up my wheatie-bag and put it under my shoulder. So I still haven’t had any painkillers, even panadol, since about 3.5-ish weeks post-op. Yay!

I had a six-week post-op appointment up at Starship last Friday. That went really well, and everything is looking great! It was all pretty routine…. I had more xrays (oh, the joys of being saturated with radiation on a regular basis!), and then an appointment with my surgeon. We asked a few questions, he looked at my xrays and scar, and that was pretty much it. These post-op appointments are so much less stressful than the pre-op ones!

Probably the most exciting thing, in my opinion, was hearing how large my curve is now. To start with, it turns out that the xrays taken a few days before surgery (which I don’t think I have) showed that my curve had increased from about 88 degrees in October, to 95 degrees in December. So I was well and truly Right-Angle Girl! That was kind of scary, to be honest, and I’m glad I didn’t know that measurement before surgery! Anyway, my post-op curve now measures at…. wait for it….¬†a mere 25 degrees!! Honestly, I’m so happy. That’s a difference of 70 degreees – pretty amazing! Even with the anterior release that was originally planned I didn’t think it would be such a good correction, and so it was really amazing to learn that it had been corrected so much with just the posterior fusion.¬†Thank you, Mr. Crawford!!

Here are the xrays I had taken last week. You can see from the side view how large the screws are – it’s a little scary to think of them being inside me! You can also see that my spine is still a little rotated, but again it’s a huge correction. I thought that I’d still have some sort of rib hump, but honestly, I can barely see anything. It certainly isn’t noticeable, and that makes me very happy. ūüôā

Look at those screws and hooks!

I really want to post a picture of my scar, but that’s going to have to wait for a little while. I mentioned in my last post that the scar seemed to be widening a little at the top – not a huge amount, but enough to not look as nice as the rest of the scar. We asked about that at my appointment, and the nurse showed Mum how to put special tape down the length of the scar, and kind of pull it together. I have to keep that on for three months, changing it once a week. I honestly didn’t think it would make a huge difference. I could see how it would stop the top from widening any more than it already had, but I thought that it wouldn’t make it any thinner. Well, Mum changed the top bit of tape the next day (we’d been told to do this), and she nearly squealed with excitement. She said that, after just one day, it already looked so much better and thinner than before! I can’t wait to see what it looks like after one week of being on. ūüôā We might take some photos when Mum changes the tape on Friday, and if we do I’ll post them here.

Here’s an interesting fact: this time last year, I didn’t know I had scoliosis. I¬†was making many plans for the coming year, and¬†I can definitely say that none of them involved having a spinal fusion! My year turned¬†out a lot different to how I’d¬†planned it. But I’m glad it happened. (Although I’m not saying that I’d want to do it again!) I think¬†this whole experience¬†has¬†made me a lot more relaxed about letting things happen. I’m¬†currently ¬†planning things for this year ahead, but I’m now aware that circumstances can change quickly, and so ultimately I’m trusting that God will help me make the right choices, and also help me not to¬†panic if things don’t happen quite how I meant them to.

A Rather Feeble Introductory Post

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If you are reading this, you are probably either one of my family, or a friend. Either way, you probably know already what this blog is about. But, if you don’t know me personally, or you don’t have any idea what this blog is about, then read on.

I was diagnosed with scoliosis in February this year.

Although for¬†the last month or two beforehand¬†I had noticed that my waist and hips were uneven, I hadn’t really thought much of it, and it wasn’t until my mum saw my back one day that I really realised that there was a problem. Mum has mild scoliosis herself, so she knew what was wrong with my back. The GP confirmed that it was indeed scoliosis, and I quickly had xrays which were then¬†sent on to Starship Children’s Hospital,¬†and the scoliosis specialist there.

Despite the first batch of xrays being lost, I got an appointment for an MRI scan fairly quickly, mostly due to the fact that my mum kept on ringing the hospital up to remind them I was still waiting. We could see that my curve was progressing very quickly, and it was very difficult to wait patiently.

I had the MRI in April to confirm that there was no underlying cause for my scoliosis, and everything was fine. When the surgeon finally saw my xrays he put me on the Class A priority list, which made me feel pretty smug. At least we hadn’t been ringing up about nothing!

In late May, I finally got to see Mr Haemish Crawford, the scoliosis specialist up at Starship. He measured my curves at about 75 and 42 degrees, and told me that I would need surgery. This wasn’t really a surprise to me, as I had been doing a lot of research, and knew that my curves were pretty big. This is one of the xrays I had taken that day:

Once I knew I needed surgery, all I wanted to do was get on with it. Unfortunately, with the long waiting list for this type of surgery, nothing happens quickly, even though the surgeon had said that it would be this year sometime.¬†At first we thought my surgery would be in October,¬†and so I¬†prepared myself for recovering in the fourth school term. However, my surgery is¬†now scheduled instead¬†for December 13. Although that is a bit later than we originally thought it would be, time has flown by, and¬†it is now only 13 days¬†until that date. I’m getting a bit nervous, but I’m still excited for the end result.

At my last appointment in October, my curve was measured at about 88 degrees, with fairly severe rotation. I actually have two curves, but the lower one is much more severe than the top, which is just a compensatory curve. This means that, when the bottom curve is straightened, the top one should straighten of its own accord. Because of the stiffness of my curve (which was shown on some side-bending xrays I had done), the surgeon is going to do two procedures instead of one. First of all he will go through my side (the anterior approach), remove a rib and collapse the lung on that side so he can get to the front of my spine, and then remove disc material from from the stiffest part of the curve, so that it will straighten more easily. After he has done that, he will then go through my back  and carry out a normal posterior fusion, probably from about T7 to L4.

So there are 13 days to go until surgery. I can’t wait… although, thinking about it, I’m actually dreading it all as well.