Wednesday, August 19, 2009


For the first time in a long time, I was so upset and angry today I wanted to throw things. The last time that happened I was aiming at someone. Today though I’m just mad at the universe, and since it’s really hard to hit the universe with a dinner plate, I managed to restrain myself.

Tiana had her post op appointment at Shriners today, and as I’m sure you’ve already guessed, we got some bad news.


Do you see it? Maybe this will help…


If you’re still not sure what you’re looking at, let me explain...

The two bright white stripes are the rods that hold Tiana’s spine as close to straight as they can get it. At her last surgery in May, they got her down to the straightest she’s been in four years, and that was a thirty-six degree curvature.

After so many years of adjustments and with her advancing age, the doctor found that her spine is starting to get stiff, and that they wouldn’t be able to adjust her anymore. They were going to leave her for about a year and then perform the final fusion.

A year of freedom; a year of not having to worry about an upcoming surgery. We were all pretty happy, and looking forward to letting ourselves relax for a bit.

Well, today a year just became three months.

A couple of weekends ago Tiana started complaining that her back hurt. The rod hooks at the top of the spine can sometimes become dislodged, and it’s very noticeable when they do, we took a look at her back but didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. So we told her she should get her butt up off the computer and do something, and that she’d probably feel better.

Today at the doctors they found that her pain wasn’t just from stiff muscles. It turns out that her rods have broken. That’s right, not one, but two of the titanium rods, snugged up against her spine, snapped under the pressure.

Ok, yea, I’m probably being a little dramatic with my description, but I’m still pretty upset, so cut me some slack if you’d be so kind.

Here’s a close up of the damage (click for a larger view):


And because I know you’re not all doctors, and because it took me a minute to catch it even though I see her x-rays all the time, a visual aid:


The top circled break is pretty self evident, but it took me a bit to understand that the bottom-left pieces are actually supposed to be attached to one another.

Kinda makes you wince, doesn’t it?

The good news is that even without the support of the rods, her back is still holding at about a forty-five degree curvature. The other good news is that there’s not a whole lot of movement in the broken portions when she moves. That gives us a little time to prepare for surgery. If those two things hadn’t been on our side today, Tiana would have probably been admitted to the hospital immediately. (If that’s actually a blessing. Part of me is wondering if maybe it would be better not to have the extra time to worry about it.)

As it stands, they’re letting her wait until after her birthday in September. So the end of the summer won’t be ruined for her, she’ll get to start school on the first day and see her friends, and she’ll get to celebrate her birthday without stitches in her back.

The bad news is that none of us were prepared for this, and I don’t know how John is feeling about it right now (we haven't had a chance to discuss), but I personally would love to throw myself on the floor and have a grand ole’ tantrum. I won’t, just like I didn’t throw the plate earlier, but it sure sounds like a fun way to let off some steam.

Besides, if I did, John would feel compelled to video tape it and post it on youtube. :)

Anyway, I wanted to get the pictures up, and the word out to our family and friends. I’ll let you know how we’re doing in a few days once we’ve had some time to process things.


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