Wednesday, February 12, 2014

An Important Announcement

This specific post is to better explain the following life event that I have scheduled for mid-June and hopefully answer FAQs and keep my friends and family in the know about all this.

Many of you probably don't know this, but I have a severe case of a potentially debilitating spinal condition called scoliosis. Scoliosis, or curvature of the spine, happens when the normal spinal curve develops sideways. This can actually be life-threatening to lung function and can cause other health complications if the severe condition is left alone and the curvature is allowed to increase over a longer period of time.

There are three stages of this condition (usually found in children and adolescents); slight, which is generally monitored; moderate, which can be corrected with a brace; and severe, which can only be corrected by surgery.

In my case, it falls into the severe category, in which major spinal surgery is necessary. Surgery was recommended for my condition seven to eight years ago, when I was in high school. Unfortunately, due to my parent's separation and divorce, as well as college, I haven't been able to get the surgery that was recommended to me. I have seen specialists several times to monitor my condition and take x-rays every two to three years or so. What they have been seeing is, unfortunately, that the degree of which my spine is bent is increasing and will continue to increase at about a rate of one to two degrees a year until the surgery is performed.

I recently saw a specialist again for a follow-up on my condition and to seriously discuss the surgery. At this appointment, he told me that whether I decide to get the surgery now, five years from now, or twenty years from now, it will be necessary eventually (implying that twenty years down the road this condition could become life-threatening) and the older I got the more difficult the surgery would be to perform.

I want to say here that currently, my scoliosis is not debilitating. With the condition it is now, I get occasional back pain and muscle spasms. It rarely effects my day-to-day activities, including exercise. The only thing that I cannot do physically right now is ice skating and/or rollerblading.

Seeing that this is inevitable, I have decided to schedule this surgery this summer, four months from now in the second week of June. I will soon be a college graduate and need to be in the workforce, which would eliminate any possibility of getting the surgery because of how lengthy the procedure and the recovery time is.

The length of recovery and the riskiness of the procedure is what has been drawing me away from it for several years (as well as other circumstances). Talking with specialists, I know the basic jist of what is going to happen, how long it is going to take, etc.

What is going to be done to correct my deformed spine is that they will be physically correcting the curvature and to make sure that the correction stays so, will not only be fusing vertebrae, but placing metal rods into the fused vertebrae to make sure that these stay fused and straight. Because every person's scoliosis curvature is different, this specific procedure generally takes minimally five hours, but it could really take a lot longer than that. I was told that I would be in the hospital for five to seven days, and be recovered to work between one to two months.Yes, there are risks of complication, including paralysis. However, the specialist assured me that due to increases in technology, there are many things that they do to make sure I am safe and to decrease any complications.

Obviously, a lot of thought went into getting the surgery at this particular time. I know that once I get into the workforce, a lot of workplaces will not allow a month or more of sick leave to get this surgery done. So my plan is to graduate, get this surgery done, and then throw myself into a career. I would rather get this done with now than wait until later in my life and be at a greater risk of complication.

Please Note: I am confident that I will be able to get this surgery in June, but my living situation after graduation is up in the air right now. If it turns out that I will not be able to get the surgery because of this, I will cancel the procedure and let everyone know.

I want both my offline and online friends and family to know all of this because this surgery and what I'm planning around it is important to me and I want all of you to know what is going on. Although this sounds scary, it's necessary and I am sure I will ultimately walk out of this okay and better than I was before. That's the intention.


  1. That sounds terrifying, but I'm sure it sounds a lot worse than it actually is. I hope everything pans out okay for you Tiff! I think you've made a good choice, deciding to do it in the break between college and work, and the sooner it's done the sooner it's over! :)

  2. Good luck with your surgery! One of my sons has cerebral palsy and had severe scoliosis. He had this same surgery done about eight years ago. He was in the hospital about 5 days and they fused his entire spine except for the lower three vertebrae so that he would be able to have more movement. I won't say that it was a picnic, but he sailed through and was back in school about a month afterward. He is still being monitored by his orthopedist but at his last visit several weeks ago he was told that he wouldn't need to be seen again for five years. So again best of luck to you.