Thursday, December 25, 2014

Sharing my story hopping that I could help others

Some people asked me why I clutter Scoliosis inside “My Birding Field Trip”?

My answer

Birdwatching is my passion, Scoliosis is in my gene. There are part of me. 

By sharing Scoliosis my real life story, I hope that I could touch, change and help another scoliotic. 

If you are sourcing info related on “scoliosis” and unintentionally we meet virtually. Well let me tell you. If you have scoliosis or your close one have it. You are not alone. Your child is not alone. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

What is Scoliosis? How should it be handle

Photo contribute by spine unit of PPUM

You will able to see this series of scoliosis awareness posters when you walk around PPUM (Pusat Perubatatan University Malaya) and UMSC (University Malaya Specialist center).  If you really looks at these posters attentively you will able to feel that these series of poster has a voice.

Scoliosis is a Greek word that means “crooked”.

Why people have Scoliosis (the lateral curve of the spine.  The abnormal C curve or S curve)?
  • Unknown --- Therefore it is called Idiopathic scoliosis.  Idiopathic scoliosis is a genetic condition.  Scoliosis normally runs in the families.  Parents have it, grandparents, aunties or uncles have it and it pass down.  For me, two of my close relative have this and they are from my paternal side.  Sometimes it might skip a few generations.  Tracing down who has scoliosis in your ancestor line might get your mind bongos sometimes.
  • Sickness ---Could be resulted from some genetic disorder/sickness that effect the muscles, bones and nerves.  Examples are Muscular Dystrophy- muscles are too week to support the spine.  Neurofibromatosis – genetic disorder that cause tumors to grown in nerves.  Brittle Bones disease - the genetic bones defects that cause fragile bones. The sufferer’s bone can fracture easily.  Because of weak bones, the spine vertebrate could not form normally. 

How long scoliosis already existed in human history?
Have you ever read The Hunchback of Notre-Dame a classic novel by Victor Hugo published in 1831?  Inside this classic novel there is this one character a man name Quasimodo.  Quasimodo is hunchback, stunted in body build, very deformed man.  He is being shun and despise by the public. People view him as monster.  He is deformed since birth.  In modern medical term he has early onset scoliosis.

What is the level of research/cure we have achieve so far?
Until to date scoliosis is yet to cease from human like leprosy.  Researchers are still working hard to studies the correlation of genes, nerves and muscles.  Till to date there is no medicine/vitamins that we can take to reverse or prevent it. However researchers are progressively develop more and more advance treatment to keep the curves from getting worse and help to straighten the spine to the safest level.

Should you leave your scoliosis untreated and not monitor by spine doctor? Ignore the spine doctor advice?
Photo contribute by spine unit of PPUM
NO! I have watched my close relatives untreated and un-monitored scoliosis curve progressively deteriorate over the years. You may be like them have successfully conquered your mind to accept body deformed/disfigured as part of your misfortune/fated to be. However you still unable to escape from some forms of health issue cause by progressively larger scoliotic curve. Over the years as the curve progress it will diminishing the functionality of the internal organs as the curve is crushing down on them. Eventually the person experiencing pain/discomfort/soreness that will affect daily life.  Pain/discomfort can easily get relieve from pain killers, however the spine curve could cause respiratory, heart, bladder, stomach, neurological and some other kind of unexplanatory problems.  If untreated the person will daily suffer in pain and then eventually lead to early death.

Corset or bracing can cure scoliosis on adult

Many still unable to accept the reality of medical help.  Deep down from my heart “I am glad that I lives in this modern medical technology whereby my spinal deformities has help.”  In the 5th century BC Hippocrates comes out with the idea of a very torturous methods for treating scoliosis. 

Strapping the patient to a ladder with their head downward and pulling them up vertically and then dropping them down with great force. This is to create a sudden force gravity pull hopefully able to put the dislocated vertebrae back to alignment.  

Those days I always imagine that if I lives in the ancient times people including my parents will think that I am demonic due to my disfigured body. People may stone/burn me to death.

Renaissance Ambroise Pare the French barber-surgeon (1510 – Dec 20 1590), has a period of time serving as a surgeon in the war.  He has come out with the ideas of artificial limbs to help the war time wounded soldiers.  Along in his career he is also the first person who invented bracing for scoliosis. He conclude that irony corset that he developed will/may help in children but once they have turn to mature skeletal he recommend to use the traction method of Hippocrates.
“Paré's seventeenth book includes a treatise on scoliosis in which he recognizes the female preponderance. He was the first to describe congenital scoliosis, but in cases of later onset he included among probable causes trauma, poor posture, and in girls the use of bodices and the requirement to curtsey.5
For adults with scoliosis he recommended the Hippocratic treatment involving forcible horizontal traction,5 but for children he was the first to prescribe iron corsets:
'... they should wear fine iron corsets with holes in so that they are not too heavy, and they will be so well fitted and padded that they will not cause any injury. They would be changed often if the invalid does not achieve the three dimensions. And for those girls who grow, it would have to be changed every three months, more or less as necessary: for otherwise, instead of doing good, it would do harm'.”

Alternatives method to cure scoliosis?
                                  Thoracolumbosacral Orthosis (TLSO) (hard brace)

SpineCor (the soft brace)
Bracing this non-invasive treatment is meant for children where their curve is < 45 degree.  Once their curve touch 45 degree it is wise to start planning for surgery. Some children during their prime growing stage their curve can increase rapidly.  Please do not knock on the spine doctor clinic at the brim of time whereby their curve has progress until they are terribly disfigure. The thought of hopefully their curve will reach stability and the curve will not increase when their have reach adulthood is a wishful thinking.  I have watched under my own eyes how mine and two of my close relatives’ scoliosis curve increase slowly over the years. From moderate severe ... and now to very severe..

It is still wise to address the curve before other kind of health issue arise and if surgery is recommended then take it before more vertebrate need to fuse. The more vertebrate need to fuse more flexibility are lost. Some scoliosis patient are not like mine, yes indeed my scolio start to erupt out from my spoilt genes when I am about 8 – 10 yrs old.  When I am about 11+ with a pair if observant eyes you can noticed that I have scoliosis but my curve progress slowly.  I was not send for bracing due to my parent lack of knowledge/awareness on scoliosis during my growing up days. I also miss to arrest my scoliosis curve during the “golden time” whereby my spine bones is less rigid because my curve has not touched 45 cobb degree in my teen. 

In my 1st clinical appointment with my spine doctor (Prof Kwan) on 30th Dec 2013, I was so relieve got to know that spinal fusion for scoliosis is still possible for adult with the condition of good health condition. My fatal risk is still less than 1% but unlike the teens I have additional 10% risk due to spinal implant failure. This 10% might or might not appear.  To me it is a good gamble. I surprise my spine doctor because I quickly told him repeated my statement few times “Yes. I agree for surgery, No need to discuss with parent.. I am old enough to decide what I want for my life and body”.  

It is ok to lose a very negligible flexibility cause I need a few more titanium  screws for my more rigid vertebrae  and I need to be lock till L2 even though I may have the same 60+ cobb “C” curve like those young teens. 

When I ponder back, I began to understand things happen in my life for a reason. My long suffering of untreated scoliosis is for me to know and experience from painless to soreness/discomfort, the meaning of low self-esteem due to body disfigured, sadness, worry and etc.  All these allow me to be the living testimony to relate my life experience with another scolio patient who is deliberating for surgery even though spine doctor has recommend it. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

I am truly very grateful

My low self image on my deformities has being lifted. Yes indeed I'm being installed with spinal implant in Feb 2014. I need to carry my spinal implant ID now. 

Initially in my recovery period I find that even a ceramic cup and my pillow is exceptional heavy.. I could only sit for 10 mins when my Spine Doctor (Prof Kwan) expect me to achieve 1 hr. The 30 mins home ride on my hospital discharge day was a great torture to me..

Each day my recovery progress. Additional quality life keep adding into me. On my 8th month post ops (18th Oct 2014) I did a 16 hrs car journey for my vacation with no complain.

On the 20th of Oct 2014 I could not have a better words to describe how grateful I am cause I am able to trek up (20 mins) on a nicely paved staircase mountain trail .  I no longer pants like a dog like last year and a few years ago.

It was a total different feel standing taller than before on the same spot of last year holding up my gears to photograph migratory birds.

This is how bad was my posture before the ops
This is the new me on my 8th month post ops

I so grateful to the Almighty God ...
"The LOVE of GOD is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell
It goes beyond the highest star
and reaches to the lowest hell
With a grateful heart
I just want to says Thank you God
For what YOU have done
YOU took my sickness and heal my pain"


Monday, September 15, 2014

My Spinal Fusion Scoliosis Recovery Formula

Notes :- I had Posterior Spinal Fusion for Scoliosis on 17/2/2014. I underwent this treatment at  UMSC (University Malaya Specialist Center).  My surgery was lead by Prof Kwan Mun Keong. University Malaya Specialist Centre  (UMSC) is the private wing of Pusat Perubatan University Malaya (PPUM).

At current I am in my 7th months post operation. I am really glad that I undergone this spinal surgery.  Besides having a number of my health problem resolve it also improve my self-confidence and self-esteem.

I hope my sharing on scoliosis and me will serve as an encouragement to those who have spinal deformities like me. There is hope/help for you in today modern medical technology.


14th Aug 2014 is my 6th month post operation clinical appointment.  I have “butterflies in my stomach”.  What would my full spine x-ray show?  Are the titanium screws intact? What would my spine surgeon says once he look at my 6th months post operations full spine x-ray?  Would he deliver bad news and suggest that I need to undergo another surgery because the fusion does not happen as per expectation?  Would there be any possibilities during fussing of spine process my spine curve increase before it fully settle down in fully fussed up stage?  Increase due to certain sleeping posture and some minor twisting position I did during my clothes wearing?

These are my thoughts while I was driving down to UMSC for my clinical appointment at 2.30pm.  After the full spine x-ray taken I took the lift to head to the waiting area of room 12 – Prof Dr Kwan’s clinic at UMSC.  There are so many people waiting together with me. Among them I notice a foreigner elderly man in big body build but he is in so much pain.  Is he having spinal problem that lead him to have problem even with simple mobility?  From his look he might be from the Saudi Arabic country.  Those relatives who gave him a helping hand to assist him to walk into room 12 speak in foreign language.  Wooow… my spine doctor must be world famous. He has patients come all the way from the far foreign land. 

Soon my name “Wong Chor Mun” was being called.  I walk into his room greeted my surgeon.  With a worry heart I ask him are all the titanium screw and rods that hold my spine intact and not loosen. He blow up my spine x-ray image and comments “….your spine is fussing up.. very good .. you are doing very well. There is no dark ring nor hollow ring around the screws.  I expect this kind of result in 9th months post ops due to your age but your recovery progress like the teenager….You are no longer on any weight lifting restriction …however you not allowed for any competitive sports and high risk activities… continue your swimming and the superman exercise to build and strengthen your core muscles.  You are allowed to do your own exercise. You are allowed to do light running…”

Yahoo…with those statement my heart is relieve but  But … huh.. my naive and simple brain cannot apprehend what is competitive sports.  He explained to me competitive sports are eg relay races, football, basketball, cross country… Woooh…oooh Hah!! no more weight lifting restriction!… I can plan to go for holiday… 

From a 64 cobb degree I have being corrected to 25 cobb degree 
Now I have a balance shoulder (My frontal plane has being corrected). My gravity line has improve (I have a better sagittal plane. 
Hmmmm since I am not allowed for any stress activities until 18th months post ops..then a light and easy… eating… sightseeing … birding holiday with do I guess?
Yes!!! I can wear back my trekking shoes very soon...
From my own experience, spinal fusion heals as intended is not a loop sided responsibility to stop at sourcing the best spine doctor in town to get the spinal implant properly installed only.  It also required the commitment of the patients post-operative cares that leads to the successful spine fusion result.  We need to aware that during recovery stage we need to modify our movement in order to avoid no body bending, twisting and not allowed to carry/lifting things with more than 3 kg.  If the patient body mass is lower, then the weight lifting restriction is even smaller than 3 kg. 

Every movement need to be very careful during recovery period to avoid destroying the surgeon’s handiwork.  I have a good laugh when I discovered that I am not the “weirdo” who do bed turns with my eyes wide open and cautious mind in the initial recovery period.

Click on this  link to find out what need to take precaution during recovery

                          watch this you tube clips to find out what need to take precaution

Even though with the list of NO and don’t, I am being prescribe to perform some exercises (physiotherapy).  This is essential to work out the muscles and to promote new muscles growth to support the new spine.  

From day 1 we are encourage to walk.  During the hospital stay in between of bed rest we are to increase the amount and length of walks each day. Once I am allowed to go outdoor that is after the bandage removal, I do brisk walking for at least 10 – 15 minutes daily.

Core muscle stretching exercises
Before discharge from the hospital, the physiotherapist thought me 2 form of exercises that I need to do 1st thing in the morning and before I retire for bed.  His advice to me “Perform this while lying on the bed for 20 times… once in the morning and before you sleep.”

1.  Bridging exercise

2. Sit up and down on a chair or wall squat.

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As my recovery progress to the 4th month 
I being advice to do swimming 4 times a week.  There are times I do the night session swim also my skin got tan.

Have the routine superman/thoracic extension exercise 1st thing in the morning and before retire to bed exercise.  The superman exercise/thoracic extension exercise and swimming as the physiotherapy is indeed very helpful in gaining back my back flexibility. 

Click on this link to find out how to strengthen your spine..

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Unlike the youtube video clips, we need to perform this lying on bed.  I discovered the mattress need to be hard in order to perform this.  Due to this exercise is quite strenuous for spinal fusion after ops patient, it need to be done in great care.  Being advice by my surgeon to start with only 2 repeatedly times for the 1st week and increase progressively until 20 times over the week as per his prescription.

Is there any particular food to stimulate bone fusion?
My surgeon advice to all of his after ops patients is no “pantang” (abstain) on food.  A balance diet will do.  To play safe in order for me to avoid fusion failure and quick recovery on the incision scars, below is what I practice.

Protein that my muscles need in order to heal more quickly.
Food that are high in PROTEIN are

The bones need Calcium and zinc in order to heal more quickly and fussed up properly.
Adequate calcium is the requirement for spinal fussed up properly.  Food rich with calcium are
Personally I change my daily breakfast menu to a cup of milk, two pieces of bread & a slice of cheese.  To top up the remaining calcium I use calcium vitamin pill where I ritually pop in after lunch and dinner.

The skin required vitamin C to promote the wound to heal faster and nicely.
Vitamins C that are found in many fruits and vegetables are essential to wound healing because it helps the body to form new cells/tissue.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

How to reduce the appearance of spinal fusion scar

Notes :- I had Posterior Spinal Fusion for Scoliosis on 17/2/2014. This series of posting on Scoliosis is my personal experience.  I hope my sharing on scoliosis and me will serve as an encouragement to those who have spinal deformities like me. There is hope/help for you in today modern medical technology.

For Spinal fusion surgery the procedure required the surgeons to cut through multiple layers of skin until the spinal disc vertebrate are expose. Only up to this stage then the surgeons is able to install the necessary spinal implants.   As the cut is right through all layer of skin, more care are requires for spinal fusion wounds compare to the accidental knife injuries in the kitchen during food preparation.

Immediately after the operations the wound are then seal up either with staples, stitches or tissue glue. A large long strip of Opsite post-op bandage strips are then use to paste on top of the incision. 
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she can be contacted at
Many people asked me did I sleep with my frontal body lying flat where my back is facing upward. (prone position) after the surgery?  NO.. NO immediately after the surgery I sleep on my back lying flat (supine position).  We can do bed turn as well. In fact bed turn every  1 hour is a must on day one to prevent blood clot and bed sores.

On the first day post- ops the doctor will change the dressing and inspect the incision.  The doctor would then able to anticipate of any signs of infections or abnormalities. A new large long strip of Opsite post–ops bandage strip is then paste on top of the incisions. This bandage can sustain certain level of waterproof. 

It is the uttermost patient responsibilities to take care of the incision.  This will help to lower the risk of infection. No doubt this bandage is waterproof.   Patients are allowed to take bath however need to be aware that it could sustain certain level of waterproofing only.  While the long strip of Opsite post-op is still there, the patients are allowed to take shower /sponge bath  however suggest do it in great precaution. 

Surgical incision always leave a permanent scar however care need to take to reduce the scar appearance even though you have vow not to allow anyone to look at it.

Stage 1– when with the Opsite post –ops bandage
  • NO soaking in the bathtub
  • Make sure no excessive sweating cause this will promote infection
  • During shower use a quick gentle water spray on the back
  • Use towel to gently pad dry on the back.  No back scrub or rub the incisions.
  • Ensure that at all ends of the bandage are properly seal.  If torn, water can sip in.  If this situation occur run to the nearby clinic with the extra op-site bandage plaster. Need to be aware that this is a special op-site bandage the normal clinic, pharmacy do not stock them.  You would not be surprise that some hospital also do not have such op-site bandage plaster as they do not handle spinal fusion.
  • Ensure no abnormalities eg signs of bleeding or oozing out yellow fluid.  Quickly run back to the hospital where you are treated if it does happen.
Stage 2 - Immediately after bandage removal till 6 weeks post ops.
    This bandage will only be removed on the 1st clinical appointment post ops.  This usually happen in between of 10 - 14 days post ops.

    Soap can be use on the incision scar after the bandage removal. Do not hastily apply lotion/oil.scar cream on the incision scar. You need to allow natural healing to take place. Do not purposely pick the scabs. Let it drop off by itself.  The scar will undergo a lot of changes including colour and texture.

    My incision scar on 2nd month post ops
    For some their scars healing taken a bigger footprint and tend to enlarge and rise progressively from the original wound.  Unlike the usual scars keloid do not subsides. Keloid are not health hazardous  however the bulging lump will get irritation from friction rubbing from clothes, beside occurrence of severe itchiness, pain even though it is a long years past scars.  Discuss with the dermatologist how to treat this if you scars develop into keloid.

    Stage 3 - From 6 weeks - 6 months post ops or longer

    Once the scabs had drop off, that usually happen on the 6th week after ops.  Lotion and scars removal cream can be administered. During this stage of healing process the incision scar need to keep moisture to promote a better healing process. Care should be taken into consideration of external application as you may develop allergies reaction. I use Bio Oil massage in a circular motion on the scar, at least twice  daily after shower. 

    Beside external care, a proper balance diet during recovery period is also important.

    Avoid Sunburn
    While the incision heals, the new skin form is very sensitive and less resistance to UV rays. The new skin are more prone to sunburn.  Sunburn will lead to worse scarring.

    Does Incision Scar Fade

    Yes, in the initial stage after the bandage removal, the scar line is reddish and a slightly raised.  As the days past the reddish line turn to pinkish and no longer slightly raise.  The scar line will continue to fade in colour.

    This is my scar appearance during 4th month post ops. 

    Sunday, July 20, 2014

    Posterior Spinal fusion for scoliosis - is it worth to undertake it?

    Notes :- I had Posterior Spinal Fusion for Scoliosis on 17/2/2014. I underwent this treatment at  UMSC (University Malaya Specialist Center).  My surgery was lead by Prof Kwan Mun Keong. University Malaya Specialist Centre  (UMSC) is the private wing of Pusat Perubatan University Malaya (PPUM).

    At current I am in my 5th months post operation. I am really glad that I undergone this spinal surgery. Hear me out. ...Let me share with you that with this major surgery I have back my quality life and I have a number of  health problems resolve as well..

    I hope my sharing on scoliosis and me will serve as an encouragement to those who have spinal deformities like me. There is hope/help for you in today modern medical technology.

    What is Scoliosis?
    Scoliosis is a medical term comes from the Ancient Greek word describe the abnormal curvature of the spine. Instead of a straight line the person with scoliosis is where their spine is in the shape of “S” or “?”.  SRS (Scoliosis research society) defines scoliosis if the curvature measuring 10 degrees and above.

    Scoliosis is more than just a curve to the side. The scoliosis spine is also rotated or twisted.  As the spine twists it pulls the ribs along with it, and it resulted one side of the chest becomes higher than the  other, or the shape of the breastbone distorted. 

    Beside that, scoliosis spine will cause the sufferer 
    to have imbalance shoulder and hip (one shoulder higher than the other, clothes hang unevenly at the waist because of that).

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    Once you discovered you or your child have scoliosis it is advisable to seek advice from the spine specialist/doctor.  Need to know the very important fact that spine specialist is the subset from the big group of orthopedician.  With that fact you need to take more care to choose the spine doctor.  FYI not everyone who knocks on spine doctor door are being pronounced the option is surgery, therefore do not afraid.  For adults depending on the degree of curvature and the amount of pain, some just required regular monitoring the progression of the curve and core strengthening exercise.

    If the sufferer is a growing child and having a mild curve (less than 30 cobb degree) then brace are being administer first.  Brace is a piece of hard apparel that is specially tailor made to prevent the curve from increasing. This piece of device is advice to fasten to the body for at least 20 hrs per day.  Some child responded well with this treatment instead prevent future progression of curves some individual can even get their spine curve reduce.  Unfortunately some children despite ritually  fasten with the brace for 23hrs per day yet their scoliosis curve keeps increase. For this group of scoliosis growing child eventually the spine doctor suggest them to undergo the spinal fusion for scoliosis once their curve is reaching 45 cobb degree. 

    Some prefer to ignore and brush away the word spine surgery even though the spine surgeon recommend it.  They rather let their child to go through alternatives treatment upon treatments having the perception that once the child has past puberty age then the spine curvature will stop to progress. To counter re-act in avoiding being the mockery subject due to abnormal appearance, they educate their child to wear loose fit clothing or wearing many layers of clothes.  To prevent the child to sink deep into self-hatred, frustration and low self-image their constantly inject mental thoughts to train them to be tough-minded.  Being a child normally their path is dictated by their parents.  For some eventually as the days and years pass unknowingly their scoliosis curve deteriorate until their outer appearance  look somewhat like this photo.

    Internally the ribs are pressing against the lungs and heart beside reduce the height of the person.  Due to less room space for the heart and lungs it make the sufferer to have difficult in breathing and harder for the heart to pump. If the scoliosis curve happened at the lumbar it will affect the function of bowel system. Some sufferer due to too severe damage on the breastbone  they even have some ribs bone poking into their lungs or heart.

    My Life Experience Being a Scoliosian

    I am being diagnosed of having scoliosis during my adolescents.  My parents are being informed that I need to be send to the hospital to be further diagnose and treated. However being a child my parents dictate my life. My scoliosis curve was untreated not even with brace.  Scoliosis in me blends together into adulthood for many years before I seek for medical help.  From a 45 cobb degree curve reading taken when I was 24 yrs old over the long period of years it has increase to 64 degree the cobb reading taken on 30th Dec 2013.

    How does scoliosis affected me
    • Due to the curve keep increase and it had cause my breastbone distorted. This affected my heart function.  I had fast heartbeat in the acceptable level. This is written over the years in my medical reports.  The normal clinic doctor could not explain why my body re-act in such manner.
    • My spine curvature has reduced my internal organ room space.  I have mild breathing problem, it manifest when I trek. I need to have many stop-over to catch up with my breath.  I was a nuisance to the group because they could not understand why I am walking slowly. 
    • I also have a few vertebrae spine disc rotated within the curve.  I have mild pain when I touch certain part of my back.
    • Over the years as the curvature progress, I could not sleep on my left side. When I did that I have numbness on my palm. I t is indeed very horrified being awake from  my deep sleep to discovered that my palms had turn blue and I am about to lost all the sensation  on my palm.
    • Pain and discomfort sip into my body slowly and subtlety until I could not remember when I start to have soreness on my right pelvic bone. The level of pain/soreness is still within my tolerance level. I do not need any pain-killer. It could be I have a very high level of pain tolerance level therefore I could not recall it does dampen my daily life then.  In those days whenever I feel the soreness is too much for me to handle, I would find a flat surface to rest my back for a few minutes. 
    • My body structure is leaning more and more to the right and my torso is getting shorter and shorter compare to the previous years ago.
    • I suffer “trapped intestine gas” due to smaller room space for my stomach to function.  Placing my hands on my stomach area I could feel the sensation of “boiling water”.
    Besides my health deteriorating as the years goes by, unknowingly I also suffer low self-esteem and mild depression due to my disfigured physical appearance of the prominent rib hump.  Unintentionally I shrank into dark corner and inflicted with self-hatred.  I have a lot of whys am I have spine deformities.  I am frustrated because my body could not hang my clothes nicely.  I don’t like others to take any photos of me then. I wish not to see my disfigured physical appearance.  I pass my days with fear knowing well the facts that I am heading to paralysis.  Those days I am clueless on where to find the spine doctor and to what level spine surgery has advanced to.  I am grateful to GOD who is all knowing, that somehow in HIS right time HE lead me to the right spine doctor.  When I ponder back if I don’t seek medical help on time, my spine deformities/curve increase and it continue to cause pressure on my nerves.   Eventually it will lead me to loss co-ordination on my legs making me difficult to walk and then the end result is paralyses.  My close relative ended up in this situation.

    I am now passing my 5th month post spinal fusion for scoliosis. I undertake the spinal fusion for scoliosis with the objectives to stop the progression of the curve and to save my internal organs from being squeeze/crush.  In today modern spinal medical technology not only this surgery able to stop  the progressive curvature but is also able to correct the curvature to the safest point.  Spine surgeons would guarantee his/her patient of at least 50% correction of curve.  I have gained 3.5 cm after the operations.  With my spinal curve correction, it creates more room space for my internal organs.

    Did this Spinal Fusion for scoliosis lead me to fatal?  NO .. in today medical technology this eerier word  of spine surgery is much more safer than you have thought.  The main criteria are the patient need to have overall good health condition and acceptable level of bone density.  

    What did I benefited from this Spinal Fusion for scoliosis.
    • I no longer have palm numbness when I sleep on my left side.
    • My days are more at ease as I no longer need to bear the soreness/tiredness on my right pelvic.  I resume back to office in my 2 months + after operation.  There is one day during the 2 months plus after operation period I worked for 20 hrs (sitting for long hours).  I was surprise unlike those days I no longer need to find a flat surface to lie down in between. 

    • This is not a fancy chair. I sat on this chairs in uncountable times before to attend work discussion/meetings at office.  After my long medical leave from Spinal fusion surgery I sat on this type of chair again to attend meeting. It was a different feel.  I could not describe better in words the nice feeling able to feel my back comfortably hold by this chair. I have not able to have this feeling ever since scoliosis eating me up day by day since I was about 8 – 10 yrs old.  For those who are not suffering from scoliosis you may not able to comprehend this.

    • I started driving again on my 7th weeks after operations when  I feel that my back is strong enough.  My view from the driver seat everything seems to be very nice and beautiful as I am able to sited upright comfortably maneuvering the steering wheels driving along the road.  
    Spine health is equivalent to a total being of the person. This spinal fusion for scoliosis surgery not only able to correct/reduce my big huge “C” curve but it also makes me a happier person.  The long accumulated unsatisfied feel on my deformities due to scoliosis leads me to have low self-esteem, mild depression affecting my self -confidence seems to be vanished off.  I am no longer living in fear of ended up bed-ridden cause by just a simple fall/slip.  

    With the 16 screws and 2 titanium rods I am now having the posture straighter than when I was 12 yrs old.  I hope that my spine will fussed up properly and I will continue to have quality life from the day my surgeon and his team mates working very hard to correct my spine curve.  I hope that I will continue to walk up-right, able to sit comfortably and able to feel my shoulder blades touch the walls when I lean on it till the moment I take my last breath.

    For those who have healthy spine, I urge you to appreciate and take good care of the good and healthy spine that you have.  Lift/carry things in a proper manner.  



    For those who are suffering from a severe Adolescence Idiopathic scoliosis like me, are you aware that spine surgeons are God’s extended hard for the miracles that you have being praying for?

    我非常感谢 (Prof Dr Kwan Mun Keong, Dr Chris Chan, Dr Lee, Dr Ng, Prof Ng, Dr Shaharol, Dr Shannaz, Winne, Shirley and the medical assitance that render your medical care to me during my admission at Mawar Ward of UMSC  Thank you for taking part in restoring my  spine and given me the second life. I hope that my spine will fussed up properly and I will continue to have quality life from that auspicious day till to the day I die.  I wish that Mr Titanium and me will live happily ever after. 

    Sunday, June 1, 2014

    Things to prepare for Pre Spinal Fusion for scoliosis surgery

    Being informed by the spine doctor that you or your child need to go through spine surgery to correct scoliosis (the disorder of the spine where the spine vertebrae twist and bend abnormally) is indeed very tormenting.  Most people will go back to the drawing board to do risk and benefits assessments.  Then as you go through you began to see that the list of benefits is more than the risk.

    Do not hesitate to take up surgery for spinal fusion for Scoliosis as per the spine doctor recommend.   Let me paint a picture to your mind.
    Body structure the external look = a house
    Spine = post and beams
    Internal organs (heart, lungs, stomach, intestine, bowels system) = furniture and fittings inside that house.
    Of unknown reason, somehow the beam/post of the house slant and go out of place day by day.  The house in the initial stage the structure still look good at first glance, the furniture in the house are not affected.  Each day the beam/post slant more and more.  Eventually the house structure got distorted.  If the beam/post could not restore on time the furniture inside the house will get crush.  Therefore never delay and regret later when discover that the beam is too faulty and the only option left is wait and watch the very moment the beam crush down the furniture.

    With the above I hope that you would not procrastinate anymore.  If the curve is under severe category do not have wavering thoughts. You need to accept the fact that surgery is the only option.  Source a good spine surgeon and plan the date of the surgery.  Start to do planning for pre-operations and post-operations. Mentally/emotionally prepare and having physical readiness makes a lot of difference on recovery rate.

    List of things to prepare for Pre Spinal Fusion for scoliosis surgery

    • Abstain food/supplement that do blood thinning for at least 2 weeks before the surgery eg (gingko, ginseng, chicken of essence, vitamin E supplementary).  Personally I stopped consume any vitamins/supplement prior 3 weeks before the surgery to avoid excessive bleeding during the surgery that may lead to complication.
    • Is very important to maintain the body in the top-notch health as possible to enter the operating theatre.  Make sure no sickness not even the common flu, cough and fever for at least one month prior to the surgery.  This is to ensure the body is well prepared and ready for the upcoming tremendous stress during the surgery and have a good recovery rate.
    • Practice the logroll techniques how to get in and out from the bed.  I practice and habitual this technique prior to the surgery as I am aware at all time we need to ensure to keep the body straight, no twisting and body bend after the spinal fusion surgery. No body bending/twisting is the temporary restriction until the spine is fussed up.  This is normally about 9-12 months. Click this to discover  What is logroll technique?
    • I also change and start to habitual some movements eg wash my hair on standing position.
    • It is also good to prepare the home for post-ops recovery needs.  As temporarily restriction of no body bending during the recovery period, rearrange the bed to downstairs in a double storey house really help. This is due to after surgery the patient will takes some times to get adjusted to the straight spine in their movements.  Climbing up stairs is quite challenging initially.  
    • Change/buy new mattress if it is sagging.
    • Re-arrange some of the necessities items eg clothes, toiletries and some others household items to be easily assessable with no body bending is required.  

    • Besides no body bending, there are weight limitations during recovery period as well. I did up to the level of re-organised my liquid detergent to a smaller bottle.
    • Get some special equipment like grabber.  It is really handy for picking up things from the ground. 

    • Depending on some people, some during the initial recovery period they need plastic chair for them to sit down during shower.  
    • Being advised by some past patient that it is also handy to have clothes that are button in front during the recovery period as some may have difficulties to raise their arms. Every individual body are different I have no problem in lifting my arms and hands. In fact I did my shower and hair washing with no one to assist me since the very day all the IV tubes are detached from my body.

    • Pack only the necessary items to be use at the hospital eg toiletries, a sets of clothes to wear when discharge from hospital is sufficient.  Do not overly pack cause the hospital single room is not as big as the hotel’s suite.  Anyway while you are in the hospital you need to wear the hospital gown instead of your normal clothes. Normally patient who undergo spinal fusion for scoliosis are discharge after 3 – 4 days.  My surgeon wanted to discharge me on the third day but I request to stay one more day. 
    • You may want to include a pair of sock, blanket and favorite small soft toy into your packing list for your hospital stay.
    • If you are a female, include sanitary napkins as one of the items to pack along to the hospital. I discovered many are like me, somehow our body due to keep thinking of the up-coming surgery it just mess up the usual cycle.  Only after the surgery when the body is not so tense then menstruation appear immediate back. I believe you are like me have own preference sanitary napkin.
    • Pre-arrange to have someone stay at home to assist you in the initial recovery period. You may be like me capable to take care of your own hygiene however you still need people help to prepare and take care of your meals.  In the initial stage of recovery I spend a lot of time sleeping and bed rest.
    • If you have long hair, do considered to trim it short before the admission in order to ease hair washing during recovery period. 

    • Most probably you are not allowed to squat for a period of time during recovery. It is very practical to trim the toes nails one day before the admission unless you have someone to assist you.
    • Get ready some interesting books.  Books are good company beside laptop/ipad and hand-phone during the recovery period.
    • Put up a big reminder “remove nail polish before admission”. Nail polish deter oxygen level monitoring as it block the true colour of the nail bed.  Do not paint your finger or toe nails with Henna (inai) as well.
    • It is much practical to use spectacles than contact lenses during your hospitalization.
    • Remember to remove all jewelry from your body before admission. Do not take any risk of possibilities being stolen. Even so they are worthless, the necklace image in the full spine x-ray will confused the spine doctor.
    • Check all the shoes, sandal and slippers make sure the sole are not worn out.  This is to ensure that they are still in good condition and have good traction in helping to avoid slipping.  It is advisable during spinal fusion recovery not to slip/fall.
    • Particularly for female to get ready at least a pair of comfortable flat shoes.  My surgeon advice me to shelf off my court shoes for at least 4 months. 
    • Get some comfortable loose fits cotton clothes these really help during recovery.  Personally in the initial recovery period I wish to give breathing space for my incision scar. 

    Additional items for adults to take notes 
    • How soon you will be driving again depends very much how long can you sit on a chair without getting up to walk around.  I only start driving on the 8th weeks post operations after I could feel that my muscles are fit and ready to handle my manual cars.
    • If you are being employed pre-inform your superior about the surgery.  Perform a proper work hand-over.  This is to avoid matters related to work disturbance during your recovery period.
    • Upfront handle your utilities bills and any up-coming bills in the next 1 – 2 months.  This is to avoid servicing interest charges.
    • Based on the facts of having weight restriction and no body bending during recovery, I do spring cleaning on my closet and  did a good cleaning thoroughly the whole house before my admission.
    For those who are student
    • Guardians/parents need to pre-inform the form teacher about your child will be absent from school for at least 3 – 4 weeks due to spinal fusion for scoliosis surgery.
    • Inform the teacher about the weight limitation of your child when she/he return back to school.  Arrange with the teacher is it possible to leave your child school bag for the teacher to manage or sharing of books with other student during class.
    • Inform the physical education teacher that your child will need to abstain from PE during the recovery period.
    • Remind the form teacher to educate the other students not to push or engage in any sort of activities that can accidentally cause your child to slip/fall.
    • Inform the form teacher to educate the other student to gives moral support and assistance to your child.  In some cases the patient after surgery is required to wear lumbar brace for a period of time. This piece of gadget may cause your child to have an extra nickname.
    • Pre-inform the transporters the condition of your child if you do not ferry your child in and out to school.
    • As most school toilet are squat.  Inform your child do not be ashamed if required a trustworthy friend assistance.