Hello, my scoliosis sistas!
So, you found out you have scoliosis and need to have spinal fusion surgery? Well, you came to the right place! Over the past decade, I have had 3 spinal fusion surgeries, countless procedures, and I’ve even broken a rod!
What’s the most common question I hear from people with scoliosis that are prepping for spinal fusion surgery?
“How in the hell do I prepare for that???”
Well, don’t worry, sis. I’ve been there, done that, and have 3 t-shirts. I’m here to help!
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor! I am just passing along my experiences with scoliosis and spinal fusion.
Workout Your Abs!
This is probably the most important part of your body to work on before having scoliosis surgery!
Since most of your muscles are going to be healing and hurting, getting out of bed to go potty and walking during PT will be very hard! If you have a strong core to tighten and engage while moving, the stress and pressure is taken off of your back muscles.
I can truly attest to this! When I had be third spinal fusion at the age of 20, I prepped by lifting weights, yoga, and focusing on core. The surgery was hard of course, but I passed my PT test the day after my surgery. I was able to walk down the hall and up a set of practice stairs and back! I was so impressed and so were all the nurses! My previous surgeries took a full 7 day week in the hospital to recover, but this time, I was only there for 3 or 4 days before going home!
It was very empowering to see how respecting and loving my body through exercise made HUGE difference in recovery.
This is the exact video I used in preparation for my surgery.
Every time I hear I have to have surgery, I panic on the inside because I know that I won’t be self-sufficient and will need help doing just about everything. I have to prep myself mentally to be able to accept help from others, especially since I like to do things myself. For me, this involves a lot of prayer and family support.
Another important mental preparation is knowing the facts that you WILL gain weight from being immobile for a month or so. In addition to that, you will be very swollen in your torso.
It’s crucial to remember that gaining 10 lbs. is not the end of the world. Your body needed the surgery for a reason, to fix your spine! Once you are healed up and the doctor gives you approval to do regular exercises, you can focus on losing the weight you put on.
Take it slow and listen to your body! Focus on low-impact cardio like walking around the park (or Super Target) or my fave, riding the stationary bike with the comfy seats so I can scroll through social media or watch a movie on my phone.
If you don’t let it stress you out, losing the weight will be a breeze!
Ask your Besties for their Support
Some of your friends will not understand how to be your friend during a time like this and that is okay. Many people haven’t had a friend go through major surgery before, so my best advice is to explain what YOU NEED from your BFFs.
If you want space, arrange where you guys only talk on FaceTime. If you need support, ask if your BFF can come over X times a week to watch a movie with you and socialize. If he or she is a good friend then they will understand and try to accommodate your needs.
Pack your Hospital Bag
You will need to pack a Hospital Bag with tons of essentials for the hospital since you will be away from home for about a week!
1.) Baby Wipes/Face Wipes
The first thing I remember after coming out of surgery, besides the pain, was how damn greasy my face was! They put petroleum jelly on your eyes because of how long the surgery is and also you will be face down the entire time. So, yes, your face will be puffy and greasy af. I know when I don’t feel clean I get irritated! So, having a facial wipe is your best friend!
2.) Pads/Tampons/Menstrual Cup
Since, the trauma of spinal fusion surgery is so intense on the body, it will do everything it knows to keep you “alive”. Surgery or not, your body thinks you’re a cave woman and you’ve been in a terrible accident. To make sure of your survival, the body wants to be certain you aren’t growing a baby and will start a period REGARDLESS of if it is your time of the month.
I didn’t really think or plan this through when I had my first surgery at age 13…. This, of course, was before being on birth control, so my periods were HEAVY AND LONG. Because of my age, I was put in a pediatric hospital where they apparently had zero feminine hygiene products and put me in a fucking DIAPER. It was the worst moment of my life because I was bleeding everywhere into this diaper while, not one, but two nursed wiped me and cleaned me up. I wanted to die TBH. So, do yourself the favor by bringing your preferred period products.
If you are at an adult hospital they might have pads, but 100% they will be those old school gigantic pads that are 2 inches thick and don’t really work well.
3.) Grip Socks
Most hospitals come with a pair of blue grip socks for you to wear during PT and to help you go to the bathroom without falling. However, you will be in the hospital for a week and I doubt you would want to keep the same pair of socks on for that long! So, I always bring extras just in case. Plus, cute socks are always fun to hoard.
If you get a family member to bat their eyelashes at a nurse, you could probably get another pair for “free” at the hospital.
Bring your essentials as if you were going on vacation! If you have a little travel bag, pack it with a tooth brush, tooth paste, hair ties, detangler (your hair will be in knots for sure!), hair brush, and deodorant! That’s about all you’ll need. Easy Peasy.
Don’t overdo it with the toiletries. You will most likely not shower for the entirety of your stay and you will not be able to wash your hair. With that being said, dry shampoo is going to be your bff.
5.) Stuffed Animal or Blanket
You obviously need to bring your favorite little stuffed friend or blanky for post-spinal fusion comfort! It’s very nice and relaxing to hold onto something soft even just with a hand. Also, bringing happiness and color into your hospital room, with flowers, cute blankets, and all your stuffies, will brighten you and the nurses’ day!
6.) Loose PJ’s
When you are able to go home, you will need clothes for the trip home! I recommend very loose and soft PJ pants and an over-sized shirt. Something that can come on and off with ease. Lifting your arms will be a challenge. You will already be uncomfortable and swollen, so there’s no need to stuff yourself into a pair of leggings and God forbid – a bra! Just let the tatas fly because a bra will (almost) literally kill you. Take my word for it!!! If for some reason you have to wear a bra, try a soft halter bralette without clasps.
Do you have anymore tips that I missed??? Comment below and help out your Scoliosis Sisters!!!
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