Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Have you hugged your spine surgeon today? Acts of kindness received from patient families. Fresh Scones, Travel Help, and a Boat Trip!

If any of you were worried, I wanted to reassure you that I did not fall of the face of the earth the last 2 weeks.....  I actually took off a week from work to visit some family down in Florida over spring break, and also get a chance to do some awesome bird watching, and take a walk or 2 on the beach.  

Just before I left for Florida, I got a very unexpected blessing from one of my scoliosis patients.   I was driving to work a day or two before vacation started, and at 6:58 am my phone rings, which is usually not good news.  I answered my phone, and Charlene, from southern Florida is on the phone.  

"My husband and I want to do something nice for you when you come to Florida.  We've done a lot of research to figure out the best way to see birds and other wildlife down in Sanibel Island."

"Charlene, you really don't have to do anything!"  I replied.

"Well, we've already decided to do it.  We've arranged and paid for your family to get a boat ride around the Sanibel Island area to see birds and other wildlife.  It is all arranged.  All you do is have to say "Yes!"

Well, I was very touched.  Charlene's husband is a very hard worker doing boat/ship engine repair and installation all over Florida, and he apparently helped make the arrangements.  

So when we got to Sanibel, Carmen the captain of the 30 foot boat contacted me, just as Charlene said. Unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate, since it was cold and very windy..... but I will still never forget the kindness of Charlene and her family to do such a kind thing for our family.

We had a nice visit with my in-laws in Boynton Beach, Florida, going out to dinner with family including "Great Gangi" who is just over a 100 years old, and doing great. She can't hear very well, but she walks around with walker, has a great big smile, and loves to see family.   I've done ACDF surgery and L45 spondylolisthesis surgery on my father-in-law, who is 71 and in awesome shape.  My mother-in-law had L45 spondylolisthesis surgery with me probably 14 years ago, and  she is also doing very well, dancing, and walking 5 miles a day, doing gardening and more.  My mother-in-law brought me her next door neighbor as a patient, who also had lumbar surgery with me...  Her next door neighbor, Mrs. A____ always makes me a big batch of cranberry scones when we come down to visit -- a real mini clinic, but not good for my low carb lifestyle!

My family and I also got a chance to go to a very cool bird sanctuary out on Sanibel Island called the "Ding", which I highly recommend.  I have a large group of scoliosis patients from southern Florida -- both adolescents and adults -- who got me some great info on where to go and where to stay!  Thanks everyone... we had an awesome trip!  If you plan ahead, you can show up at the Ding and one of the volunteer guides will take you and others around the 4 mile drive, stopping along the way to take a look.  They even let you use their high power telescope to see the birds from afar.  I learned that young bald eagles have different feathers that are bigger and heavier than fully adult birds, which make it easier for them to land, so they don't crash and hurt/kill themselves!  Great idea --- trainer wings for eagles!  It was a spectacular day to be out with all these beautiful birds.

Well, I've been back to work for a little over a week now, and things have been quite busy as usual.  I've seen several out of state adolescent scoliosis patients in for consultation -- the most recent was a nice 14 you young man and his dad who flew up from Tampa, FL area to see me.  He's got a 54 degree thoracic curve, and on forward bend had a lumbar hump, but on bending X-Rays that I got today showed them that the lumbar curve straightened out completely.  This was awesome news to the mom Cecilia when I did an internet X-Ray review for her, since she had been told that her son needed both the thoracic and lumbar curve corrected -- a bigger deal especially for her son who is avid tennis player.  

A few days before that, I saw a nice young lady from South Carolina, with a similarly sized curve with her family ---- they stayed a bit longer for the hospital tour with Holly, our Patient Navigator over at Duke Raleigh Hospital next door to Hey Clinic.  I got confirmation this week that of our adolescent scoliosis patients from Baton Rouge, La is coming for surgery.

Yesterday I straightened up a nice young lady from Chapel Hill who had an unusual double thoracic curve --- and got a very nice correction.  She's recovering well.  Mom appreciated the Navigator services, including allowing her to stay in Katherine's hospital room during her surgery.  That allowed mom to get a ton of work done for her realty business, and even take a little rest in the quiet big private room!  I've heard that before from other families --- surgery day can actually be very productive without the distractions of the office!

Today I did a big front and back (anterior/posterior) scoliosis correction for a 53 yo woman with severe flatback syndrome and degenerative scoliosis and stenosis.  This afternoon fixed a L45 spondylolisthesis with severe stenosis.  Both patients did well.  In between surgeries, I saw the family from Florida, and an 82 yo woman who had a horrible collapsing thoracolumbar kyphoscoliosis now doing super well a year out from surgery.  She just came in to talk about a new osteoporosis medication she'd like to try.  I used a new sublaminar fixation technique at the top of her construct which is less invasive and a little be more flexible to help prevent proximal junctional kyphosis.  It worked like a charm.

This past Friday I saw a bunch of postop patients in clinic doing really well, including Tim, who is my big Duke fan, who has the special U-Rod technology to solve his severe cervical kyphosis.

Tomorrow I have a big kyphosis surgery in the morning, and a smaller spondylolisthesis surgery in the afternoon.  I had several student shadowing meetings today, and had a great premed student from NC State hanging out with us in surgery.  I split my salad with him for lunch at 2pm after the front and back surgery and had a great talk about good reasons to go into medicine.  Breakfast with one sophomore pre-med, who worked with me last summer, and will do research and intern in my office this summer.   Another awesome student during the day and for lunch!  

Overall, it's been a great couple of weeks.  Last week we did two anterior/posterior scoliosis/kyphosis reconstructions including a Harrington Rod Flattback repair.  We used our new Truss technique at the bottom of both of these constructs across the lumbo-sacral junction ---> lessons learned through our biomechanical finite element analysis (FEA) research with Professor Mazzoleni and colleagues at NC State.  

Gotto go.  10:13pm and have to get up at 5 to exercise and get to the operating room.

Dr. Lloyd Hey

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