Sunday, April 15, 2012

5 Months Post Op

A fellow scoli sister summed it up best for me recently:  I've had a bittersweet year.  Tomorrow celebrates 5 months post op and I still am amazed that I'm "on the other side."  I've been prescribed some exercises by Dr. Lenke's physical therapist:

Upper Body Workout while lying on bed, x3 set of 10 reps:
Tricep curls
Bicep curls (sitting on edge of bed)

Lower Body Workout, x3 sets of 10 reps:
Single Leg Step-Up (at bottom step of our stairs)
Modified Lunges (can you believe it??? Lunges???)

My weekly workout schedule is:
single leg step-ups, everyday
walk 5 miles every day, Mon - Sat
lower body workout, Mon, Wed, Fri
upperbody workout, Tues, Thu, Sat
rest, Sunday

Dr. Lenke explained to me that walking is the most critical exercise postop as it is a weight bearing exercise that promotes bone growth.  According to Dr. Lenke, full fusion occurs between 6 - 9 months postop.  I'm doing every possible to walk as much as possible (as long as it doesn't cause me pain) because I am in the crucial fusion period.

The day after my last post in February, I weaned completely off all pain meds.  Occasionally, I take one Tylenol if my back tightens up after an upper body workout, but I haven't had to take one in a few weeks.  I can honestly say that at this stage of my life, I am the healthiest I've ever been.

I'm still limited with certain movements until one year post op: no bending, lifting, twisting.  I tried squatting downward to get items into the lower dishwasher rack, but when I talked with Lenke's nurse, she told me I shouldn't be doing that.  I'm not able to get items into/out of the dryer either as that involves both bending and twisting.  We'll probably invest in front load machines soon. 

I'm struggling to cope with Ma's passing, it's been difficult for all of us.  The greatest gift Ma gave me was spending her final weeks taking care of me postop.  I'm thankful she was able to witness my successful surgery.  Thank you, God, for an amazing mom and incredible best friend.  For those of you reading this who smoke... QUIT, you are literally killing yourself.  It has been a blessing to spend more time with Pa.  I pray God keep him strong and healthy.

After getting very sick from one Forteo injection postop (I was doing daily Forteo injections preop), I talked with Dr. Lenke's nurse and asked her if it is true, does severe scoliosis skew bone density results to read worse than they really are?  She confirmed this as accurate.  She reviewed my density report with me and confirmed that my density, outside of my lumbar area, has nearly 100% normal bone density.  She went on to explain that with all the BMP Dr. Lenke packed into my lumbar, that there should not be a density issue in my lumbar area ever again.  I decided to no longer continue with Forteo.

Last month I was able to meet a group of fellow scoli sisters in Atlanta.  Two of the ladies who were preop brought their hubbies so they could chat with Jeremy about what to expect from a caregivers perspective.  There was another woman who was postop.  It was wonderful meeting the ladies and hubbies and we hope to get together in a few months.

It seemed surreal to me that I was offering advice on what to expect from spinal surgery because of how fast everything fell into place for me:
June 2011 realized something was seriously wrong with my spine because of debilitating pain
July 2011 met Dr. A in Atlanta and scheduled surgery for Aug
Aug 2011 Dr. A cancelled surgery because my spine was too severe for her skills
Sept 2011 traveled to St. Louis to meet Dr. Lenke who scheduled me for Aug 2012 surgery
Nov 2011 accepted a cancellation slot and had surgery!

It is like a dream how events unfolded.  I am finally living the life I've dreamed of, pain free!  It is incredible that all my pain is completely gone.  My reason for having the surgery was to first stop the progressing curves and next, prayed for some sort of relief of pain.  Dr. Lenke explained that patients fall into one of three categories:
70% patients have a decrease in pain
22% patients have no change in current pain levels
8% patients have worse pain postop

Praise God for granting me to be pain free for the first time in over 10 years! 

I've been asked a lot lately when will I be back to "normal."  Never.  I am creating my new normal.  This surgery has taught me how to be adaptable and creative, but above all, it has taught me humility. 

I look forward to seeing Dr. Lenke in a few weeks.



  1. Such great news Doreen! Sounds like you are making amazing progress!