We found out last month that Oscar will need spine surgery again, and soon. I knew even before we stepped into our local orthopedist’s office that morning in June. His trunk had started shifting farther to the right and his shoulder blade was becoming even more prominent. His curve used to be somewhat hidden by his clothes, but now the drape of his shirt, or even his thick jacket, betrays the increasingly large curve underneath. His head tilts to the right now too, and when he bends over the whole right side of his back is raised.
Two and a half years ago, in February 2016, Oscar had six screws inserted into his lumbar spine, T9 to L2. A cord connected those screws and pulled his spine straighter as he grew. He went from 40-something degrees to 18 degrees post surgery and we expected his spine to continue to straighten, which it did. We left his 38 degree compensatory thoracic curve alone, hoping that it would correct somewhat on its own, or at least hold, as his lumbar curve straightened. And it did — it decreased to about 28 degrees and held steady until this spring, when his lumbar curve overcorrected throwing off his thoracic curve too. Now, instead of an S-shaped curve he has one giant C.
So, here we go again. In two weeks. On July 25th. His wonderful New Jersey surgeons, Drs. Antonacci, Betz, and Cuddihy, will lengthen the original lumbar cord, giving him more space to grow, and add a second set of screws and a cord to his thoracic curve. He’ll have two incisions, two chest tubes. And he’ll possibly need to have some “rib work” done to fix that shoulder blade. We won’t know the exact surgical plan until we review the latest x-rays with Drs. ABC on July 24th, but by all accounts this sounds like a more complicated surgery than last time. O will likely be in the hospital a little longer, possibly have more pain, recover a little more slowly. But we don’t know. (And we’re not mentioning any of that to Oscar.)
Once again the goal won’t be to straighten him perfectly, but to allow him enough slack in the cords to pull his spine straight, without over-correcting, as he continues to grow. He’s grown more than four inches since the last surgery and is now just under 5′ 8″. But his bone age is delayed about three years and he honestly looks closer to 15 than 18 too, all lanky and lean. I’m guessing he’s got two, maybe three more inches to go.
So, stay tuned. I plan to post here frequently as we navigate the logistics, the surgery, and the recovery, and try to have some fun along the way. Because, as Oscar keeps reminding me, this is HIS summer and he has a lot of things he wants to do.