Preparing for Surgery
Important stuff to think about so you don't lose your mind later.
 
  1. If you smoke, stop. I was a smoker for many years and had quit three years before my surgery, though occasionally would have one socially. My doctor told me that still, even having been mostly smoke free for that long, it was possible my bones might not fuse as well as a non-smoker.
     
  2. Get yourself in shape. There's going to be very little exercising after your operation for a while, so get yourself as healthy as you can with exercise and diet. If you don't take a daily multivitamin, start.
     
  3. No herbal supplements or aspirin/Ibuprofin for a few weeks before the surgery. It can mess with your anesthesia, blood clotting and fusion.
     
  4. Get your life in order. Set up bill pay for every bill possible. Get any appointments you need to take care of over and done with. Buy a pair of slip on shoes, several pairs of loose pants and a few shirts with wide necks or buttons. Organize your house so that everything you need is no higher than shoulder length. Do your spring cleaning because it's going to be a while before you are interested in pushing a vacuum cleaner. If you have groceries that can be delivered that's also a good idea. In New York City we use freshdirect.com.
     
  5. Set up your pre op appointments. Blood work, urine tests, and lung exams are all par for the course. During your blood gas test make sure you get poked in the wrist of the hand you don't write with. I couldn't write for a full day after that stupid test. You'll probably get a batch of new x-rays as well. You may have one last meeting with your surgeon. If you have more questions then definitely get them answered at this point. Even if your surgeon is busy, your surgeon's PA should be available.
     
  6. Get a prescription for valium. Or any other sort of anti-anxiety medication you might prefer. I'm telling you, if you are anything like me and the other scoliosis patients I have spoken with, you are going to start freaking out the week before the operation, and definitely the last few nights before. I don't like pills and I didn't think I would take them, but two nights before the operation I was a total ball of nerves and they helped.
     
  7. Have a great last meal. I think surgeons are a little different about this, but the night before my surgery I was not allowed to eat anything from midnight on. I had to be at the hospital the next morning at 5:30, so it wasn't difficult. I didn't have an appetite again for several weeks after my surgery, so it was nice getting that last good dinner in.
     
  8. Designate someone as a contact for your friends and family. Before I went into surgery I sent out a mass email to all of my close friends and family members containing my contact information and a short description of what would be happening with my surgery. I also let everyone know that my mother would call another friend with the update after my surgery, and this friend would then send out a follow up email letting everyone know how I was doing. This is exactly what happened, however things got a little more confusing with my surgery as there was no initial good news. Because my parents had been copied in on that email my father was able to take over the email updates, and send out regular updates for the next few weeks. These emails were always upbeat and funny, but factual as well. Make sure your contact person is calm and not prone to exaggeration. You don't want to worry people unnecessarily.
Looking for more information?
Scoliosis Surgery: The Definitive Patient's Reference provided helpful reading for me and my family.
 
 
 
My Flickr Photo Gallery. X-rays, before and after shots, and even physical therapy.
 
 

 
Other helpful scoliosis sites:
 
The Mayo Clinic provides a thorough scoliosis overview.
 
 
 
If you are near the Wichita, KS area, Dr. Alan Moskowitz can be found at the Kansas Joint and Spine Institute.
 
 
 
Or, if in New York City, Dr. Daveed Frazier can be found on the Upper West side.