The hardest part was over for my sister and I, but we still had a long road ahead of us. We had a large hospital room that we shared so that we could be together for the week. It took me about 48 hours before I became aware of my surroundings again. I noticed my mother in the room, and my twin sister in a bed of her own across the room from me. The nurse was flipping me over to change the sheets and to make sure that the stitches were still in tact. I realized how thirsty I was , and she gave me ice chips. It was the first time I had a chance to recollect my thoughts, and realize all the differences.
My back was a lot heavier, I almost felt like a robot. I also noticed my legs, they were swollen and semi-numb (imagine pins and needles after your foot falls asleep, but constantly).Nerve damage is always a possibility for anyone who gets any type of surgery especially a spinal fusion, but I’m a fighter so I didn’t fear any setbacks. My sister was up and walking to a chair with minimal help within 48 hours of her surgery, but I was unable to leave the bed because I literally could not walk without falling on my face. Three days had passed and the nurse gave me a walker and said we were going into a hospital hallway to practice walking. I got off the bed, and (you guessed it) I went down like a sack of potatoes. It took 2 nurses to get me back up on the bed in front of my walker. I got back up though, I held onto my walker like my life depended on it and scooted into the hospital hallway with my nurse friend. She spent hours on end with me, and she just kept saying “You are strong, you can do this”. She was an awesome person to say the least.
A week flew by, and my twin sister and I were in wheel chairs ready to go home (still on high dosage of pain medication). We lived in a 4 story house, not including the stone steps that led up to the house. My mother was frantic, she kept asking the nurses “How do I get two girls up that many flights of stairs after this surgery, I can’t do this on my own”, The nurses asked if she had help, and she replied and said “No, because my husband must work overtime to make ends meet, and the kids were all in school”. The nurse helped my mother by lifting our stiff, painful bodies into my mothers purple van, and it turned out to be the most awkward ride home. My sister and I were stiff, and if we moved an inch there was pain coming from every direction in our bodies. My legs were still pins and needles, and if we hit the slightest bump in the road it felt as if the world was crashing down on us and tears began to roll when the pain medication began to fade.
We arrived home. My mother helped lift us out of the van and my sister and I took it in our own hands to get up the stairs. When walking I realized that I was taller, and that I gained about an inch after my spine was straightened out. I still had trouble walking due to the nerve damage in my legs, but I used my hands to hold onto everything I could grasp to lift me up each and every stair. We just had a rod placed in our backs, and my sister and I were climbing the stairs like it was Mt. Everest. To this very day, my mother talks about how impressed she was when she saw us climbing flights of stairs after such a major surgery. Our surgeon reassured us that it wasn’t normal by any means for someone climbing 4 flights of stairs after a spinal fusion, and he wasn’t happy when he heard what we did. My sister and I would share a room for the next 3 months ( we watched a ton of George Lopez), and we would have a teacher come to our home 3 times a week to keep our minds sharp until we went back to school ( I enjoyed home school, because you had one on one time with the teacher and I learned more that way).
For the first three months of being home, my sister and I had to teach ourselves everything all over again. We had to learn how to dress ourselves, shower or bath by ourselves, and in my case I had to learn to walk without a limp. When I would walk my left leg would drag behind me because of the extensive nerve damage, and when I ran it was much worse. We were struggling financially, and my parents couldn’t afford rehabilitation to teach me to walk again ( so I worked on it, and I spent a lot of time with myself teaching myself to walk again). My sister was eventually enrolled back into school, but I was ordered to stay home for a couple more weeks. I spent a lot of time building strength in my legs. Exercise was a big “No No” after the surgery , so I had to walk up and down the stairs to build my strength. The surgeon told us that it was a must to give our bodies a solid 6 months to allow the Herrington rod and our spine to become completely attached before attempting to exercise.
The first 4 months were past us, and those four months made my sister and I stronger (mentally and physically) individuals. We were both back in school, and I was walking without a limp. We still had aches and pains but they were much less than the first few weeks of recovering. Stiffness was an annoyance for many months, but it became apart of us. The recovery process would take a year before we were comfortable with our new bodies, and we would learn to embrace the scar that reached from the top of our necks to the middle of our backs ( our “warrior scar”, we call it).
Do you have a name for your scar? If so, what is it? Leave a comment below!
If you are going to get spinal fusion surgery soon, or you just had the procedure done, there is a link below that I find very informative and resourceful. Check this website out for more information and tips on how to cope after scoliosis surgery.