As a patient I was initially admitted for two days’ observation to ensure that I was in good general health. Which I was~ for the exception of a severe case of backne (back acne, I had acne on my face (facene) too but they weren’t messing with my face). On the third day, they proceeded with the operation, under full anesthesia. The (Harrington Rod) rod was fixed in position for the degree and place of the two curvatures along my spine, (caused by scoliosis) and fixed securely using a pair of hooks that linked it to the spine. The rod had ratchet ends that fitted through holes in the hooks, and the compression of the spine kept the whole thing in place. Those hooks looked pretty much like the presser foot of my sewing machine…..
Under anesthesia, I was stretched to straighten my spine, giving me an additional 3 inches of growth and the ratchet system held everything in its new position. The design of the rod also allowed for additional growth, because as the spine got longer, the ratchet allowed the rod to move in only one direction. Rods came in a variety of lengths, mine was 18 cm (if I recall correctly)….
The first stage of treatment took place in a specialized unit because I needed to be kept as immobile as possible. I spent weeks on a bed that allowed me to be either flat on my back, or flat on my front. Lying on a side was not allowed, nor was turning from front to back. The bed was designed to allow the nurses to roll me every four hours to prevent bed sores…..
At the end of those seemingly never ending weeks my Dr. felt it was necessary, to put me into a plaster cast, covering the length of the spine, and up to my neck and down halfway over my butt. After the cast set, I was allowed to go home where I spent a further number of weeks on full bed rest, and told to operate “log roll” conditions. That meant being horizontal at all times — no sitting or standing, no more than one pillow, and only bending one leg at once, when lying on my back. At the end of the at home recovery, I was returned to the hospital to spend the next 10 days to 2 weeks learning to walk again. After I spent more time than anyone should ever have to in bed, I was weak from the weight of the plaster …my spine was a very different shape from before the operation, so balance was difficult. I felt that I was frequently falling over because I had spent years, leaning sideways before the operation. ….
After learning to walk again, I was fitted with a brace that had steel -reinforcing rods down the back. This had to be worn for 23 hours a day, and could be removed only for bathing. I wore this specific type of brace for less than a month and then transitioned to a newer more modern hard plastic like brace with Velcro strips to tighten it for added compression of the spine. Termination of the brace wearing began with removal during sleep for a few months, but due to my stubborn nature and vehement statements of full recovery I soon abandoned it altogether…..
During the treatment, and up to losing the brace, I was forbidden to undergo any form of physical exercise, including swimming, not that it bothered me, I wasn’t a water baby nor interested in any type of exercise…soon my doctors realized that the treatment was quite a success, the restrictions began to be lifted, and the timescale for the whole process reduced. ….
I went on to lead a fairly active and carefree life up until the mid 90’s when I underwent a second round of surgery….this process was “less invasive” and with the untold advances in medical science I was assured a less restrictive recovery…the rod that gave me my “perfect posture” was to be removed as I had somewhat managed to break this stainless steel piece. Yay. Surgery was a success; recovery was extremely painful and difficult as I learned I was carrying my precious baby (A). I was terrified of the consequences despite the assurance of the doctor that I could safely take X amount of narcotics. I just couldn’t do it. I toughed it out med free with the only comfort being that once I had him I would feel relief from pain as I was determined to take any and all previously offered narcotics that would relieve me of pain. Which I did and of course the sad consequence of that was I have no recollection of caring for my baby for his first few days of life……..