01 May 2003

One year on

Well I can't quite believe it but it is exactly 4 years that I had my spinal surgery in Middlesbrough General and I can still remember it as if it was yesterday I don't know where the time as gone and I have had no problems since, in fact I have forgot that I actually have metal rods in my spine.

More Hydrotherapy

27 August 2003 Hydrotherapy has started again today and it went very well. My balance is improving both sitting and standing and I feel like I am starting to improve this is my eighth session. I am doing a lot of sitting balance and reaching exercises and strengthening work. I am seeing the Consultant on 29 August for a review appointment.

29 August 2003 The appointment went well today. I went and had 2 new x-rays taken one standing with back to the machine and one taken standing sideways on. The Consultant was very happy with the results.

1 September 2003 Hydrotherapy session went well today, I feel as through I am getting stronger. I have another session next week.

27 February 2004 I can't believe it is coming up to my next review appointment with my Consultant. My back feels good and the thing that amazes me in all of this is that on the 13 March 2004, it will be a year since the operation; the time has just flown by. Went to see the Spine Consultant today and he was delighted with my progress.

I had 2 x-rays taken and I was also pleased how it looked. I still can't believe it is coming up for a year. I feel and look really straight and I am delighted I had it done, I have a new lease of life and pain free from the day it was done and it's great. I have to go back in 6 months to see the Consultant.

13th March 2004 Well the 1st year has arrived and my back is great, all the pain I had was gone on day one and never returned. I can't really tell my back has rods in etc it just feels like it’s never happened.


I was able to get in the pool by using the pool hoist as I am unable to walk up the steps. Once I was lowered into the water it was really warm and I stayed on the hoist seat so that I could do the exercises with the physiotherapist. It felt a lot easier to do the exercises in the water compared with doing exercises in the physiotherapy room, because the water was taking the weight of my body making it easier for me to move.

25 June 2003 I attended my second hydro session today and I was in the water for 15 minutes today. It was perfect: I did my first set of exercises sat on the hoist again and then I came off the seat and held the bars and I tried standing. Some of the water had to be taken out of the pool as I was unable to reach the bottom. Once some of the water had been removed and I was able to stand for a few minutes, it was really good and I was able to do exercises using a float. I found it a bit difficult at first to balance and the Physiotherapist helped support me.

5 July 2003 I went on Wednesday and it was a good session that lasted for 20 minutes. I started with my exercises while sat on the seat in the water and then the Physiotherapist helped me over to a step that was place in the water near the hand rail and I stood on the step with some support. I then did some exercises on the step holding onto the bar and then I managed to stand for a few minutes without holding on and it was great. I am going back on Wednesday and hopefully I am going to do some floating on my back.

11 July 2003 I went for another hydro session on Wednesday and it was great I didn't get to do any floating this week maybe next week. I did manage all my other exercises though and managed to stand without holding onto the bar for much longer. The Physiotherapist started to make the water move making it harder to keep balance but I managed to stay standing which means that I am getting stronger.

16 July 2003 I have been for hydro twice this week. On Monday I did a lot of sitting balance and standing balance work and today we started off doing the same exercises and then I did some work while floating on my back I loved. I had a special pillow which went around my neck a bit like a travel pillow, and then they had a special float which consisted of two big pieces of polystyrene and a kind of sling attaching the polystyrene at each end and this was put around my back and then I laid back onto it and I was fully support floating on my back, which was fantastic. I then did a series of exercises to help strengthen my back and stomach muscles.

Wheelchair Assessment Clinic

I attended the clinic today to review my current wheelchair. The backrest has now been adjusted and some of the support padding has been removed as I no longer need the same level of support which I was pleased about. They are going to order some brake extensions so that it is a bit easier to reach the brakes.

I also attended physiotherapy today which went well and hopefully I will be going for Hydrotherapy soon. I have now been home for about eight weeks and I feel that I am improving all the time. I found it quite difficult when I first came home and mum needed to help me quite a lot. I am now finding it a lot easier and am able to do a lot more on my own, for example getting dressed, getting in and out of bed, going to the bathroom, and getting in and out of the bath. Still find getting in and out of the car a bit difficult sometimes. I am also gaining more confidence day by day and I keep thinking, "Well I couldn't do that last week and now I can". I am going for Physiotherapy again on Tuesday 3 June and I also have to go for an assessment on 6 June in the Physiotherapy Department at the hospital I had my operation at. I think it's so they can assess me before I star my Hydrotherapy.

I went for Physiotherapy yesterday and it went really well. After I had finished walking in the bars my Physiotherapist placed a small wooden step in the bars for me to see how well I could step up and down. At first it felt a bit strange although I managed it with her help and it really good as I feel as if my mobility is beginning to come back. We are going to continue to work on it in the bars to help strengthen my legs and help improve my walking. Once I had had a short rest I went for a walk using my frame and I managed to walk further than the last time although this time, you guessed it, I managed to walk back.

12 June 2003 Physiotherapist says I am coming on leaps and bounds compared to when I first saw her. Each week I tired to walk a bit further and succeeded. This week after doing all my exercises and walking practice in the bars, I managed to walk all the way to the Day room, and back again to the Physiotherapy room which for me is quite a long distance. I was really pleased with myself and that I had been able to walk without getting tired. Today instead of pushing myself from the Day room to the Physiotherapy Room for my appointment I am going to walk down to the Physiotherapy room with my Physiotherapist.

Following my treatment I managed to stay out of my chair and walk to where I wanted to go instead of using my chair. I must admit by evening I was getting tired. Today I have managed the same and as yet not used my wheelchair.

I went for my Hydrotherapy Assessment on 6th June 2003 and it went well and I got the go ahead to start Hydrotherapy. The hospital rang me on Thursday and said my first Hydro session is on 23 June 2003 which I am looking forward too. 3 months now since Posterior Correction and Spinal Fusion T10 to L5 Operation 13 March 2003. It has now been three months since my operation and I am feeling really well.

I feel that I am a lot straighter now compared with last year. After I had had my operation and I started moving around it felt like I had swallowed cement and it felt really solid. Now as time has passed I don't feel that anymore and it just feels like I don't have two metal rods in my back. I can't believe how straight I am and I am really pleased that I don't have to use my left arm to support myself anymore. It was a strange feeling to use a knife and folk again. I used to struggle with having to use my left arm to support myself now I don't have to do that anymore. I also that I am able to use two hands when using a keyboard which is a lot faster.

Improving day to day

I started Physiotherapy the following week after being home and my Physiotherapist thought I looked really well and couldn't believe how straight I was. After doing my exercises I walked in the bars and then tried walking with a frame. I found the frame a lot easier to walk with in the room than I did at home as there was no carpet.

I go for Physiotherapy on a regular basis and feel like I am getting stronger all the time. I am now walking better with my frame at home as I am getting used to the carpet. I have now been home one month and I am feeling better each day and I have now managed to get in the front seat of the car. Although it is a bit of a struggle, it means that I can go out with mum to the shops etc on short journeys.

My next goal is to be able to sit in the car longer so that I can go for my Physiotherapy instead of having to go by ambulance. I can't believe how much I have managed to do in a short space of time although I think it is down to the support of my family, the medical profession and my sheer determination. I am really pleased that I had the operation and I do not regret it one bit.

25th April 2003 Review Appointment with Consultant I went by ambulance today to the hospital to see a member of my Consultant's team for a review. He was pleased and said that I would need an x-ray so that he could compare them although it could not be done today as it was too close to the last one. I have to go back in 4 months time and then have it. He showed me the previous ones before the operation and that one that was taken straight after the operation, and I could not believe the difference-how straight it was.

No stopping me now

The Physiotherapist then decided that a sliding board on the bed and the chair would be better. They helped me back onto the bed and went to get the board.The Physiotherapists then slid me on the sheets across the board and into my chair. It was a weird feeling to be sitting back in my chair but great never the less. I had been sitting in my chair for what seemed a long time and the next thing I knew the Porter was there to take me to x-ray. I went with the nurse and porter to the x-ray department over the other side of the hospital.

It was like going on an adventure because I had not been outside for quite a while. It took time to do the x-ray, because it was taken while I was sitting in my chair. When it was completed, we went back to the ward and the nurses helped me back into bed because I was tired. Later that afternoon I had to go back to x-ray as the Consultant wanted an x-ray of me lying down. Mum came with me and this time the x-ray was much easier and quicker.

Now that I was able to get into my chair there was no stopping me, I improved no end and started to walk sort distances with the Physiotherapist. When mum visited, we would go downstairs in the lift and sit outside in the sun. I continued to improve and the hospital staff happy and they allowed me to go home on 31 March providing that the Occupational Therapist was happy following her visit. 31 March finally going home the Occupational Therapist came at 1.30pm, I gathered my belongings, and we went down stairs and waited for the taxi to arrive. I was excited to be finally going home the taxi arrived, the driver released the ramp, and he pushed me up and then clamped the wheelchair down. It took about 20 minutes to get home and it was nice to see that not much had changed.

When I got in the house, the Occupational Therapist watched how I managed around the house, eg getting in to my lift and then how I managed to get in and out of bed. We then went back downstairs and into the bathroom and I managed to do everything although it was getting a bit difficult because I was starting to get tired. Then we went into the lounge and I managed to get up and down from my chair that was the easy bit because it is a riser chair and it helps you to a standing position at a touch of a button. The Occupational Therapist was happy that I could manage. I was really tired by now and rested for the rest of the day after the Therapist had gone. It was really nice to be home after 3 weeks in hospital.

Surgery and beyond

13 March 2003 - 7.30 am I was woken by the nurse to get ready for theatre. I had a bath and put a gown on and dressing gown and I went and sat in my wheelchair in the day room and waited for them to come for me. While I was waiting for the trolley, the Staff nurse came and did my theatre check list, which was a series of questions, which I had to answer before I went to theatre. 8.30 am and the trolley came and I went back to my room and the nurse helped me on.

The porter and the nurse took me on the trolley down the corridor into the operating theatre and into the anaesthetic / recovery room. I can remember going to sleep at 9.00am and waking up in the same room at 3.15pm. Mum was there when I woke up and my Consultant showed me my new x-rays and said that it went according to plan and was a success.

I drifted back to sleep then woke again. The nurse in the recovery room wet my lips for me and then I was sick straight away. The next thing I remember is being back in my room and there were a lot of nurses in the room with me. I was supposed to be in Intensive care after the operation but unfortunately, there was no bed available. As a result, the nurses were keeping a close eye on me. Every 10-15mins they came and checked me. I can remember feeling cold and the nurse said do not worry you have a space blanket over you to help warm you up. I asked her 'why was I cold' and she replied 'it is because your blood pressure is a bit low'. I also had a catheter for a few days until I was able to go to the toilet. My Consultant came into see me, and he requested a blood test to check my blood count. The next thing I remember is the Sister putting up a unit of blood, I had had two units in theatre and this was the third.

When I was more awake I noticed that there was a machine near my bed with a hand control and the nurse said that it was a controlled amount of morphine and that I could press the hand control at 5 minute intervals and I would get pain relief. I had it for a few days and I did not press it as it made me sick and I did not have any pain anyway from the minute I woke up. The nurse took it down and I started to feel better and less sick, which was great.

17 March 2003 - Monday morning and the Physiotherapist and Therapy Assistant arrived to get me up for the first time. The Physiotherapists rolled me in one onto my side and then helped me up into sitting. I was a weird feeling I was dizzy for a minute or so then I was ok. It was nice to sit on the bed I managed six minutes and then I had to lie down again. The next day they came and I sat again on the bed for a while and then we tried a stand with a Zimmer frame, which I managed but not for long, then I tried for a second time and I was a bit wobbly and was unable to stand for very long. They helped back to bed as was very tired. Later in the day my Consultant came to see me, he asked me how I was I explained that I had managed to sit on the edge of the bed for 6 minutes and stood twice with the frame. He was pleased and asked me if I been in my wheelchair and I said no although I would like to get back into my wheelchair. He said that he would like me to get back into my wheelchair and to be able to get about on my own. He then went to have a word with the Physiotherapist and on Wednesday morning, the Physiotherapist, and the Therapy Assistant came and helped me up. I tried to get in my chair but still could not do it.

Admission Day

12 March 2003 - The day finally arrived, I rang the ward on the morning to check if the bed was available and the Sister said 'yes' so we set off for the hospital. When we arrived, the nurse showed us to the day room until the room was ready.

During the day, I had a blood test done and then in the afternoon, the Anaesthetist came and we discussed what was going to be happening the following day. The staff nurse then came to see me, made a detailed note of my personal details, and gave me my name band. My Consultant came to see me on the evening and we all had a long discussion about the operation and the recovery process.

Having Xrays

We discussed this and checked the x-ray and he said that surgery would be the next step. I was shocked at this idea as you can imagine but I went away and thought about it. I went back to see him and explained that I was sliding more and more and we decided that we would go for surgery. He wanted an MRI scan done as it would give a better picture. I had my MRI scan done and then went back to see him in April. I had another full spine x-ray and then we went back to his office. After he had checked the x-ray we both agreed about the surgery and I am now on the waiting list for the operation, I am not sure when it will happen, hopefully it will be soon.

15 Feb 2003 I received my letter for admission. I was relieved it had arrived. The long wait was finally over and I couldn't wait for it to happen. The thought that I would soon be straight, and not having to use my arm to support myself, excited me.

25 February 2003 - I had to attend a Pre Assessment Clinic where they did general tests and then I had to go for new x-rays to check for any changes. After having the x-rays, we had a long discussion with the Consultant about the proposed surgery. I am going to have a Posterior Correction and Spinal Fusion from T10 to L5 and my admission date is 12th March 2003 .

Living with Scoliosis

I would like to dedicate this part of my life to Mr Papastefanou who carried out my amazing surgery

When did I know I had Scoliosis you might ask, well I think it was about four years ago by mistake really. I remember being at work and I moved to get something from my desk and my back locked which was very painful. 999 was called and I was taken to my local hospital by ambulance.

I remember being seen by the Consultant in A & E and was given some pain relief and sent for an x-ray and then the doctors examined the x-ray on my return. The Consultant came into the room where Mum and I were and said "Do you know that your spine is curved, you have what's called Scoliosis, a curvature of the spine" We were both shocked as we had not heard of Scoliosis. Then he bleeped the Spinal Unit and requested a Spine Specialist to come urgently to A & E. The Consultant came down and looked at the x-ray and he allowed me to go home with some painkillers (as there wasn't a bed available, otherwise I would of probably stayed overnight) for the night and to come back the following morning to the Spinal Assessment Clinic which we did.

The Consultant examined the x-rays again and agreed that I had Scoliosis stating that there was no need to do anything at the present time although he would monitor me closely for any changes to the curve. I attended the clinic on a regular basis had x-ray's and monitoring. I went to see the Consultant and he transferred me to see one of his colleagues. I first went to see this Consultant in May as far as I can remember; I was a bit nervous as I had not seen him before. He examined me and then he asked me if I could stand up as he wanted to send me for a full x-ray of my back.

We managed to do this although it took a while to get it right then we went back into see him. After he had looked at the x-rays and we had talked he said that I did not need anything doing at the moment although he wanted me to go back in 3-4 months. I went back to see the Consultant and had another x-ray and explained how I was and that I had started using my arm to help support myself because I felt as if I was sliding to one side more now and the amount of pain was increasing.