View Full Version : My surgery story - at last!

21st November 2005, 01:32 PM
Finally Iíve got round to writing up my experience of surgery! I am now 5 weeks post op & feel well enough to get it down. I know we all enjoy reading about each others surgery experiences & I know before my surgery I found reading everyone else experiences very helpful! So go make a cup of tea and try not to fall asleep.

My surgery was to correct my Scheuermannís Kyphosis. My curves measured 80 degrees kyphosis & 70 degrees scoliosis. The plan was to fuse from T3 - L3. Surgery was scheduled for 18th Oct, 2005 @ 730am at Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham under the care of Mr Grevitt (top man!)

We were told to be at the spinal unit the day before at midday. I was incredibly nervous as we were in a new city having travelled from Scotland & everything was unfamiliar, thankfully my partner Des was there to get me through. There was no bed when we arrived so we basically mooched about the hospital for a few hours. The anaesthetist came to see me that afternoon and discussed what the plan was for the next day, explaining the risks and answering any questions. She was fantastic and totally put my mind at rest. She explained that she has the authority to stop the operation if she feels your body is under too much strain which reassured me. She explained about the huge amount of monitoring done to ensure your spinal cord is kept safe & also about pain relief afterwards. I was to have morphine by PCA which is a device which lets you control your own pain relief. She also explained that QMC donít use pre-meds or epidurals!

Visiting ended @ 8pm and after Des left I got incredibly nervous. I was allowed to eat up until midnight & could have water until 5am (which was very close to surgery!). Spent about an hour on the phone to Des to calm me down & finally tried to get some sleep. The man in the bed next to me had just come back from theatre and didnít look too bad which made me feel better but I thankfully I didnít know that he had a disc replacement and not a major fusion! The time went incredibly slowly and 730 seemed a million miles away.

I went to the bathroom at 6am and when I came back a nurse was standing there with a gown & lovely paper underwear! My heart started racing & she told me to go and shower. After that I felt like I was on a conveyor belt. After my shower I came out and Des was standing there. We went to the quiet room for a moment & I promptly burst into tears with the stress but managed to pull myself together. Des was frightened too but very reassuring. We came out and there were 2 people there to wire the electrodes up to my head for surgery. The let Des come in while the wired me up & they gave him a job cutting bits of tape. There were a lot more electrodes than they had used during my pre-op & they explained that once I was under anaesthetic they would be putting many more on too! By the end of it I looked like Medusa! We walked out of there and there was the porter waiting for me!

Des was allowed to come as far as the theatre lift. I felt strangely calm by that stage & it was important that I was calm to help Des too as he had the difficult bit (the waiting)! Once in theatre reception everyone was very nice. I had to transfer onto another trolley which had an electric blanket on it which keeps your body warm during surgery. One of my surgeons came to see me and was totally upbeat about the whole procedure. He told me that my particular curves were very unusual as a pair and would be the biggest they had operated on. They had operated on bigger single curves but not two together of this size.

They explained they would be doing 2 stages today. The first would be a thorascopic anterior release which involved deflating my left lung & making 5 small incisions in my left side and using their equipment would make my kyphosis less stiff by removing vertebrae & also a small deformed rib. The second part would be posterior fusion which involved opening my back from top to bottom and fusing it all together with titanium rods & reinserting my bone which they had harvested and turned into a putty. The team would include 3 spinal surgeons, 2 consultant anaesthetists plus 1 trainee, 4 spinal cord monitoring people plus various others! I felt in good hands.

Next minute I was wheeled into the anaesthetic room. All 3 anaesthetists were there and were just lovely. They were laughing & joking with me which set my mind at rest. She put a line in my arm & explained once I was under they would spend another hour & a half wiring me up properly. They would be running a line from my arm up into my heart plus a few in my neck, a couple more for good measure, putting the rest of the monitoring equipment on & not forgetting the lovely catheter! They then injected me with some red stuff which I cant remember what it was for & then said she was going to put me to sleep. She injected some white stuff into the line & I thought for a second ďits not workingĒ & then I was gone! Truly fantastic! I remember nothing at all for 32 hours!

I remember nothing of the facts but basically hereís what happened (most of you know this bit). The anterior release went well but they stopped it a bit early as I was bleeding quite heavily. The fusion went incredibly well. The procedure in total took an incredible 16 hours which nearly gave everyone a nervous breakdown!

I didnít require a blood transfusion as they reused all of my own using a technique called ďcell saverĒ which washes your own blood before putting it back in. They then add a clotting agent. While in recovery I became agitated and pulled my chest drain out twice! (not recommended). I then pulled my catheter out (not for the faint hearted & not recommended either)! Apparently it took 6 nurses to hold me down in recovery! I remember nothing whatsoever of this thankfully & am most embarrassed!

My first memory is opening my eyes & seeing Des looking at me which was fantastic. I was in the high dependency unit. I strangely couldnít feel any pain & my first question was ďhave they done it?Ē. He told me they had and that I wasnít paralysed & that it had been a success and I conked out again! Des said I had actually had brief moments of being awake and he kept telling me the same thing over & over but I have no recollection!

That night I woke up and was incredibly sore. They had set my PCA machine to automatic so I didnít have any buttons to press. I asked for some pain relief. The doctor authorised my morphine to be increased which due to my sensitivity to IV morphine caused me to have major breathing difficulties. This caused quite a scare that night . Unfortunately they had to give me a drug to reverse my morphine which left me incredibly sore & it was a few hours before they were able to give me another drug (tremadol) to help with the pain. This time I had the button I counted the seconds until I could press it again & again!

The next day (36 hours post op) a physic appeared by my bed and asked if I wanted to sit up for a minute! My mind was screaming ďgo away you evil person!Ē. I sensed that she wasnít really asking me! Next minute with the assistance of 2 physicís I was sitting up. It was quite sore but the worst bit was how incredibly fragile I felt! 10 seconds later I was standing up! I was really proud of myself but felt really faint (which everyone had warned me about!) She also kept trying to make me take deep breaths & also to cough to try and help my lung re-inflate! I was not a happy person!

I ended up in HDU for 6 days due to catching a urine & chest infection. I had nothing to eat or drink until 3 days post op. I canít tell you how thirsty I was. I had an oxygen mask on for 6 days too due to the problems with my lung, some of which were caused by me pulling out my chest drain in recovery! The chest drain which thankfully everyone had warned me about was not a pleasant experience as you are lying on it quite a bit of the time. It is totally necessary though I became obsessed with asking if it had stopped filling up, I think the nurses wanted to put me to sleep again! Thankfully 5 days post op the surgeon said lets get it out & I canít tell you how great that felt. Every day another tube was taken out & thankfully at last so was the catheter. It makes you want to curl your toes when they take that one out. The last one out was the lines in my neck as they were still giving me antibiotics through it.

Every day the physic came and eventually she had me going up and down stairs! I didnít really feel up to it but did it just so I could get home! Had a visit from the marvellous Marmyte who kept you all updated & baked us a cake. Also had a visit from Titch who saw me at my complete worse & cheered me up by saying I looked ok!

Strangely the last thing to keep my in hospital was the fact I hadnít gone to the toilet which they sorted out with a carton of prune juice and giant suppositories which looked like cruise missiles (you can just imagine the rest!) Finally I went home with my lovely straight back 12 days later! The rest of the story you all know.

There have been some great moments & some very low moments. I can actually feel the ďfogĒ starting to lift at the moment. I am still in a fair bit of pain but actually feel like Iíve turned a corner. My kyphosis is gone & my soliosis too(still canít believe it). I am 6cm taller. Sometimes I look in the mirror just to make sure they actually ďdid itĒ! I donít regret surgery for one minute but I now appreciate what everyone who has had surgery has gone through. Itís a really tough road and Iíve still a long way to go but its so worth it & with the support of my partner, family, friends & all of you at SSO I know Iíll get there!
Ok you can all wake up know! For those of you who havenít seen the pictures they are on the thread back from the trenches.

Good luck to all of you with upcoming surgery. My thoughts are with you.

Perhaps one of the clever people can let me know what my metalwork consists of. Screws, hooks etc?

Here are the links.

http://i20.photobucket.com/albums/b233/jon...ncomparison.jpg (http://i20.photobucket.com/albums/b233/jonboy69/johncomparison.jpg)

http://i20.photobucket.com/albums/b233/jon...comparison2.jpg (http://i20.photobucket.com/albums/b233/jonboy69/johncomparison2.jpg)

21st November 2005, 03:33 PM
awe whoa John, thanks so much for sharing your experience with us......I hope you are'nt too sore after writing it all for us, I know it took me a few days with lots of 30mins intervals where I lay down in between to write mine

You have been through the wars indeed with your surgery.....but I am so glad you are now at the other side of it, and can tell your story! It reminded me a little on my surgery and what I went through - although I probably had less tramatic experinces than u (chest drain and cathater pulled out - - - ouch ouch ouch)

As for your x-rays, I think I said before, but they look FANTASTIC! I am so glad it went well for you....and as for the hook/screw thing, I am definately not the resident expert....but I have counted 6screws, and 5hooks (there are more....but I can't see some, cos of the white patch) maybe Jonny will know, he usually does.....:P

:squeeze: well done John! :niceone:

21st November 2005, 04:10 PM
I'm at work at the present so i look to forward to reading with interest later tonight thanks for posting it John

21st November 2005, 05:49 PM
Those xrays are fantastic! What a great looking result :D

21st November 2005, 06:21 PM
Thank you John for taking the time to put all that together.You write fantastically well.It's a fascinating read for anyone contemplating surgery
and those x rays are truly amazing.

21st November 2005, 07:50 PM
Really great to hear your story John. Love the correction too mate. Take care.

21st November 2005, 08:19 PM
Wooo fantastic correction john and what a story you take it easy and put your feet up you deserve it

Thaleias spirit
21st November 2005, 09:50 PM

Thank you so much for that recollection of it all. I'm not sure how I feel about it all still, I suppose the fact I don't have any dates yet makes it still feel surreal. Am anxious about problems afterwards but I can't do anything about that. I might be lucky enough to not encounter too many difficulties but even I know I've a great consultant who is more than happy with the staff he has, so that is some peace of mind.

But the xrays, wow, they are seriously impressive! You must be so thrilled with how it all went.


21st November 2005, 10:55 PM
Thanks for the story John :-) the scariest bit to read was injecting the white stuff... did you get a cold feeling up your arm before you went?

They're also fantastic x-rays - it must feel unimaginably better!

22nd November 2005, 12:54 AM
Great write-up, John... thanks so much for sharing your experience. I am especially amazed by the kyphosis correction. Very impressive. But mostly I am pleased that you're feeling so good about having done it. Another satisfied customer. *grin* Way to go!

22nd November 2005, 05:43 PM
Originally posted by Jonny@Nov 21 2005, 09:55 PM
the scariest bit to read was injecting the white stuff... did you get a cold feeling up your arm before you went?

why was that scary to read Jonny? whatever they gave me wasn't white.....it was clear which is weird....but I guess different places use different things

oh, did any one work out what metalwork John has in him....I can't see past the white bit in the middle to work it out!

22nd November 2005, 11:56 PM
It just reminded me of that cold feeling just before you go out...

As for the rods, they're just a universal posterior screw-rod construct... probably got a posh name like Synergy or Cotrel-Dubousset :-)

23rd November 2005, 12:42 AM
Originally posted by Jonny@Nov 22 2005, 10:56 PM
It just reminded me of that cold feeling just before you go out...

As for the rods, they're just a universal posterior screw-rod construct... probably got a posh name like Synergy or Cotrel-Dubousset :-)
I wasn't cold *shrugs* just got very tired very quickly

oooh......see I knew Jonny you'd know the answer, you being one of the resident experts! :-)

23rd November 2005, 12:58 AM
na, you are wrong....

The screws they use are standard production Meccano parts... :hammer:

23rd November 2005, 01:03 AM
Originally posted by andy_d@Nov 22 2005, 11:58 PM
na, you are wrong....

The screws they use are standard production Meccano parts... :hammer:
oooh do I detect a new residant expert :hammer:

I seriously must read more scoli related stuff....to increase my knowledge, then I can answer some questions people come up with!!

23rd November 2005, 11:56 AM
Bravo! I followed your story with bated breath. If you ever tire of flying, you could make a career of medical sagas. Thank goodness your saga has a happy ending. What height does the extra 6cm bring you to?

23rd November 2005, 12:04 PM
Actually, being as it was done at QMC I'd be willing to bet they're USS rods. The USS includes all sorts of different rods, hooks and screws so that it is (as the name suggests) a Universal Spine System and allows the surgeon to decide whether to use hooks or screws at any level depending on what they think is best once they get in there :-)

23rd November 2005, 01:28 PM
Thanks for that titch - am totally ignorant about what is inside me which is rather shameful!

Pauline - I am now a respectable 6ft 2" which I am more than happy about. It has hacked off des & all of my friends as suddenly I am taller than them.

As for medical sagas - I think I might start writing a soap opera with parts for all of us. It would have to be very trashy indeed. Something along the lines of the very bad "el dorado" if anyone remembers it. Or acorn antiques. I am thinking dodgy outfits, wobbly scenery & very bad acting! I think we are up for the challenge! If anyone has any preferred parts they wish to play then let me know! I want to play a surgeon with a drink problem & shaky hands!

Little Ali
23rd November 2005, 03:14 PM
Yay! Thanks for your story John! Although I did read 'physic' as psychic' the first time and got reeeeally confused!

I used to work for a company that makes all that metalwork. Does Xia, Radius and Diapason mean anything to anyone?

Great X-Rays John! That's a really good correction! :bounce:

23rd November 2005, 06:42 PM
Diapason is the name of an organ stop :D

24th November 2005, 12:59 AM
OMG Jonny I was about to say that!!!! What music geeks we are :D

24th November 2005, 05:27 PM
Great story John, you do have very good writing skills :niceone: This one about the anesthesiologists:

"Next minute I was wheeled into the anaesthetic room. All 3 anaesthetists were there and were just lovely. They were laughing & joking with me which set my mind at rest."

I really think the reason anesthesiologists are always so happy is because they're high on the gases they use :D

24th November 2005, 08:36 PM
You might have a point there Sealy

25th November 2005, 12:48 PM
Geez that was terrifying! Am remembering pain from previous surgerie's *bites nails* allalalalalalallala! Hmmmmm sounds like tha aneasthesists were on top of it all though. It was good to read that. :). I'm very happy for u John. Lets hope ur right in saying if u can do it n e one can. x

29th November 2005, 06:46 PM
Hows the pain now John is more manageable and are you of the Morphine yet.

I hope everythings well with you and Des and your lifes settling back into more of a routine


29th November 2005, 10:34 PM
Hey John, I've read your story and thank you so much for sharing it with us, it brought back alot of memories of my own surgery!

WOW your x-rays are fanbloomintastic!!! :niceone:

Take care

Love Jules xxxx

30th November 2005, 12:54 PM
mini update!- went to the doctors on friday to see about coming off morphine and he strangely recommended staying on it! (so am now total junkie!).

I was a bit concerned about this but he said if he stopped it now I would hit the floor with a bang so he has done me a 20 day morphine reduction plan!

My follow up is next week at QMC and we were planning on flying however when I mentioned this to the doctor he said that I needed a chest x-ray to check that my pneumothorax (collapsed lung) had fully re-inflated! Had this on monday in a awful wee hospital the other day (imagine cold war russia) & wont get the results until next week.

I told the doctor that we had to get on top of my lung becaused as you all know my job depends on my lungs having no gaps (air crew)!

Apart from that everything is fine. Am a bit bored during the day as I cant do anything yet. Des is fine and we are slowly coming back down to earth after such a monumental year. (i.e. us both losing our dads & then my op!)

Planning on hitting the vino next week too & can't wait! WIll keep you all posted! Will probably be pole dancing after one glass!

love john x

30th November 2005, 01:47 PM
Oooh, sounds good. Except that ridiculous wait time on your chest xray.

I hope you get the all-clear to fly again, but I can understand the need for caution, after all my flying around the last few years. It's tough to be at the reduced pressure with insufficient lung function. You'll feel much better knowing that your lung is back to normal before you get off the ground.

Can you go by train or car if your lung's not back to where it should be?

30th November 2005, 05:14 PM
How much of total lung capacity is lost during operation or is this something that comes with Kyphosis.?

30th November 2005, 05:27 PM
Some people with scoliosis & kyphosis have problems with reduced lung capacity before surgery. Quite a few of our members have reduced lung function though one of them will be able to comment more on the specifics as I didn't experience this pre-surgery.

In my particular case my part of my surgery involved what is called an anterior release (to make the kyphosis less stiff by removing vertebrae). To access your spine they went in through my side and this involved collapsing one lung. In my case it did not reinflate properly as I had problems with my chest drain. This is not always the norm during surgery & mine should hopefully be rectified soon.



30th November 2005, 10:35 PM
Thanks John

It appears they did "Lung collapse" to get to your spine. I thought "lung capacity" is lost because of rib cage re-construction to get rid of hump.
So what do they exactly do when they collapse Lung.?

30th November 2005, 11:21 PM
Marcilo, some lung capacity is lost from predicted volume because of the kyphosis or scoliosis in the first place. Surgery should improve this because any correction will open up the ribcage. However, a costoplasty/thoracoplasty, rib reshaping, will reduce capacity slightly.

The thing to remember is that with the major trauma of surgery, there is a certain amount of acute lung function loss that comes back after a few months. This isn't usually noticeable, although spirometer readings improve every day in hospital.

When they approach the spine through the chest in order to perform an anterior release or fusion, a few inches of one rib is usually removed on your side. They enter your ribcage and spread the ribs slightly away from each other. Your lung is naturally stuck to the inside of your chest because there is no air around your lung. When they enter your ribcage, this seal is lost, letting air in between your pleura (lining of the chest) and your lung on that side. The lung naturally deflates away to the side, leaving a comfortable space in which to get to the spine.

After the surgery, they connect that lung back up to the ventilator, and it inflates nicely, filling the side of your chest again. They then close up the ribcage, so there is a seal again and no air can get in.

Now they insert a chest drain under your lung - this tube draws away any blood from your spine, to stop it accumulating around the lung they operated on and partially collapsing the lung again.

Anterior surgery is always supervised by a chest specialist, and the whole process is very safe. The only minor problem is having the chest drain afterwards, but this usually comes out after 3-4 days.

1st December 2005, 12:17 AM
Jonny, what did you say you're going to do when you "grow up" again? If it doesn't involve the practice of medicine, you're doing the world a disservice.

Thaleias spirit
1st December 2005, 12:34 AM
Originally posted by jfkimberly@Nov 30 2005, 11:17 PM
Jonny, what did you say you're going to do when you "grow up" again? If it doesn't involve the practice of medicine, you're doing the world a disservice.
I think it was something Biomedical .. Biomedical Engineering?
I did say he should be a doctor and apparently after he completes the bio med studies he can continue with studies to become a go on to be a doctor.

1st December 2005, 01:02 AM
Indeed, Biomedical Engineering... rather than twelve years learning to become a surgeon (which would be my choice if I were to study medicine), I'm spending four years learning how to engineer devices that make medicine possible in the first place :D you never know, the next spinal system to come out might have my name on it :D

1st December 2005, 01:20 AM
At least as good, if not better. Save the next generation, Jonny. I expect great things from you. (Pressure's on, now!)

1st December 2005, 10:38 AM
I must say Jonny that explanation above of the lung capacity is very good. Nice one mate.

1st December 2005, 12:11 PM
top explanation mate!

1st December 2005, 08:59 PM
Wow that was a cool explanation, it does clear lots of doubts

8th December 2005, 10:26 PM
Heyyyy! woo hoo you did it!!!

I cant believe you remembered so much of the details! Great writeup :) your spine looks amazing! you must be chuffed :) xxxx