MY SCOLIOSIS SURGERY

Part 3—My Scoliosis Surgeries

On Sept 24, 1958, I was wheeled in for my first surgery for Scoliosis. This surgery was to straighten from the last Thoracic vertebra (T-12) to the last Lumbar vertebra (L-5).   See Spinal Column  This was the longest and most painful of the two surgeries.

Cadaver bone chips were attached a section of my partially straightened spine section and would hopefully grow into my own bones, which meant many bedridden months.  At that time the Harrington Rod was not yet used in most spinal fusions.

The surgery took about 5 hours.  I vaguely remember starting to come awake during the procedure.  I was then given Ether, (an older anesthetic), which they had not planned on using.  I was put in Critical Care, (ICU) although really not sure what it was called back then.  I guess I kept asking to take the terrible smell away, which was the Ether smell.   I think my parents applied some kind of perfumed cream to my arm to help cover the smell of the ether.  (To this day, I do not like perfume).  I was in critical condition for about 8 days and my parents were told that I might not pull through.  One of my worst memories is that a new Dr. came into my room and sat on my bed to speak with me.  It moved my back enough so that I was in so much pain that I lost consciousness.  My parents said that every time that Dr. would pass by the room, I would scream.  I was told that he felt terrible and had not realized that he should not sit on my bed.

I believe that I was in the hospital for 10-14 days and then moved back to Mary Free Bed to await the next surgery on my thoracic/lumbar area. I was back in the Milwaukee Brace.  During my hospital stay, I had several roommates, unfortunately all in critical condition suffering from broken necks, brain tumor surgery and one having a spinal fusion. My folks kept telling me that following surgery each had been transferred to a different room, but several months later told me the truth, which was they did not survive their surgeries. 

My next surgery of the thoracic spine was scheduled for Oct. 28th.  I was most reluctant to have another surgery, but knew it had to be done.  The second operation was from Thoracic 12 up to and including Thoracic 5, again with bone grafts.  I recovered more rapidly from this surgery back in Mary Free Bed and was transported home in Dec. shortly after I turned 14. 

Surgeries today are done much differently.  For a personal story from the new way to treat scoliosis read Michelle’s story.

Always laugh when you can.  It is cheap medicine.

Part 4—10 months  at home in bed