This is the final day of June and, up until this year, I had no idea that June was “Scoliosis Awareness Month.” Since my wife and I have two daughters with scoliosis, I probably should’ve been clued in to that fact.

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Fast forward to June 8. Following a visit to the UI Children’s Hospital with our son Zach, we got a blunt reminder about what month it is. “We need to make a decision” is the way you’re told that your kid needs to have spinal fusion surgery.
So, on Thursday, Zach will join this unique “club” with his sisters.  It’s a pretty invasive 6-7 hour surgery with screws, hooks, and rods that straighten out the spine and keep it from curving more.  After that, there’s a six month recovery with major restrictions: no bending, twisting, stretching or lifting anything over 5 pounds. (For perspective, a gallon of milk is 8 pounds.) Little things like tying your shoes, washing your hair, or reaching for something on a shelf are on the “banned” list of activities. There’s even a special way to sleep and get out of bed.

But...we’ve been down this road twice before.
In the past, well meaning friends and family would tell us “the good news is, at least you know what to expect.” However, the bad news is: we know EXACTLY what to expect.
After we spent a week or two feeling sorry for our son and asking why him?”, “why us?” “why do we have to go through this a THIRD time?”, we kind of regrouped and went back to what family and friends have said to us: “The good news is...”
What other “good” news could we think of to go along with this “bad news?” Here’s what I came up with:
The good news is:

  • Since we don’t have any more kids, this is the LAST time we’ll go through this.
  • We’re 45 minutes away from the best Children’s Hospital
  • We’ve got a surgeon who literally wrote the book on this procedure
  • It’s bad, but not as bad as some diseases or illnesses
  • We’ve got pretty good insurance
  • I still have a job
  • We’re able to stay with him in the hospital
  • He won’t miss a bunch of school
  • The current COVID restrictions have cancelled most of his summer activities
  • He should be able to snowmobile by Christmas break
  • And, if he follows the doctor's timeline and sticks to the rehab program, he’ll be the world’s second barefoot water skier with a fused spine.

(“Banana” George Blair was the first. He got thrown off a moving freight train by a group of hobos leaving him with a shattered back and ultimately a fused spine.)

The guy got tossed off a train?!?! Right there’s another one: And the “good news” is, Zach screwed up his back the EASY way: he was born with it!

 

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