Friday, July 31, 2015

Hand-written Thank You Notes....even from the texting generation! Mentorship, and thanks for the whole team.

After finishing up a day in surgery or in clinic, it is always a great joy to find a hand-written note from one of our patients on my desk.  This week I've received a couple of notes shown below -- one from Alex, a 20 yo gentleman from Venice, Florida who had a fairly severe kyphosis that I straightened out for him back in May.  He is heading off to medical school next week! His note is encouraging, since as many of you know, I was inspired to be a surgeon because of my own experience as a patent as a teenager.  I was helped by an orthopedic surgeon who literally gave me my life and my leg and my ability to walk back.  I spend time each week mentoring medical and pre-med students helping them to truly consider how they should take care of the whole person, and whole family, and not just think about diagnoses, procedures, and "cases."  

Sometimes this inspiration happens for patients like Alex as well.  Another postop teenager named Cedar, from Asheville, NC told me this week in clinic that she now wants to be a surgeon,  after I fixed her severe scoliosis a year ago...  Perhaps these 2, and maybe others will help take my place some day when I  retire.  However, God willing, I am not planning to retire anytime soon.  Like my mentor, Dr. John Hall at Boston Children's Hospital, it would be my great joy to keep serving as a scoliosis surgeon for many years to come.  Dr. Hall finally retired at age 80, after 3 Harvard retirement dinners, and I believe his wife finally putting down the final ultimatum!  

My hope is that I can hire a few younger surgeons in the years to come, and share what I've learned through my experience caring for many children, adolescents and adults with spinal deformity using successful conservative treatments in the clinic, as well as surgical treatments in the operating room.   Passing on this learning and wisdom should help keep Hey Clinic going, and growing and improving for many years to come, with excellence.  

20 yo Alex and his mom May 2015 after kyphosis surgery

Here is the note from Alex:  Dr. Hey, I wanted to express my thanks again to you and your awesome team; having you fix me up has done me a lot of good not only physically but psychologically as well.  I am getting ready to start medical school next week, and I can't tell you how much this experience has helped me define where I want to take my career.  You have been a great role model for me, even if our time spent in person has been brief.  Talk to you soon, and God bless you and yours.  Alex"

13 yo Kristin's note was inspired and completely written out by her alone, which was accompanied by a collection of fresh chocolate-covered strawberries and apples that we were able to share with the entire Hey Clinic staff yesterday afternoon.  
Her note reads: 
"Dear Dr. Hey, Thank you so much for fixing my spine and taking care of me during my recovery in the hospital.  I would also like to give thanks to the nurses who helped me handle my pain, helped me sit up, and walk.  I feel little to no pain at all.  :)  -- Kristin"
Kristin, we will be sure to pass along your thanksgiving to the Duke Raleigh Hospital nurses and physical therapists and occupational therapists who helped you!  There were actually quite a few people who helped you even during your surgery while you were asleep who are also a key part of our team.  I will thank them as well.  After my severe leg injury and 3 month hospitalization, I actually made several trips back to the hospital floor and visited the nurses and therapist to just say thanks and to show them that I was actually starting to walk again.  I also shared with them how their compassionate care helped me to get through a very dark valley of my life, and inspired me to become a doctor some day.  

So let's face it:  we're not just X-Raying, measuring, bracing, and straightening up crooked spines here to prevent heart and lung compression and/or pain and disability now or later in life.  We are interacting with very special, developing human beings -- who are quite impressionable.  If we handle this whole experience with your child, adolescent or adult loved one well, they not only end up with the desired CLINICAL result, but PSYCHOLOGICAL, EMOTIONAL and WHOLE LIFE DEVELOPMENTAL and INSPIRATIONAL result that may have a huge impact on their life as they grow up and choose to serve someday.  That's the kind of personalized "signature care" we have been seeking to gradually perfect over many years now with our whole team.  

And that is when we get the hand-written thank you note that makes our day.

Thank you Alex and Kristin for taking the time to send in a thank you note.  It is so encouraging for me and for our whole team.  Each guest and their family is precious to me, and to our entire clinic and hospital staff, both at Duke Raleigh Hospital, and WakeMed Children's Hospital,  and these notes really help us to keep pressing on to serve better and better over time.

Lloyd A. Hey, MD MS
Hey Clinic for Scoliosis and Spine Surgery

Let us know if we can be of any help for a second opinion regarding conservative (including bracing) vs. surgical treatment for your child, adolescent, or adult loved one.  Our team is ready to help in a non-rushed, no pressure, highly educational way.  There is an easy link on our home page to send in an appointment request.

Monday, July 27, 2015

24 yo Stephanie tells her story: pain-free and enjoying new posture and life after revision adolescent idiopathic scoliosis surgery

After, and before revision scoliosis surgery with Dr. Lloyd Hey
I was originally diagnosed with scoliosis when I was 13. I was never braced--just given all forms of physical therapy, pain meds, etc. Finally by the time I was 18--my curve had gotten much worse and I was in terrible pain. I was playing golf in college--but was in so much pain I had to drop out of a tournament in the middle of a round. I knew then I could not live like this anymore. After my first surgery--my back was considerably straighter--but I still had a hump (from the kyphosis I was yet to be diagnosed with). The pain was much better--but I still had some rough days.

Less than five years after my first surgery--I was walking around the bank (where I work) and all of the sudden I felt this awful pain in my back and heard a sound that sounded like a gun shot. It was terrifying. I immediately was in tears---I was in unbearable pain. I called my doctor and drove there immediately. They did X-rays and discovered that two of my rods had broken....

I really never thought the day would come when I would be totally pain free with a straight, flat back. I couldn't even imagine this ever happening--all I wanted was for the broken rods to be fixed. Every day was a struggle since I had both of my rods break. I couldn't sit, stand, or even lay down comfortably. I became dependent on pain meds to help me sleep and get comfortable--but those barely even touched the pain. I could feel my lower rod protruding through my skin--and each day it seemed to be sticking out more. The surgeon who did my original surgery gave me lots of pain meds and shots. He didn't seem to think the rod needed to be surgically fixed. I was beginning to lose all hope.

After a few months of suffering with the broken rod--I decided to start looking for other scoliosis specialists within the state for a second opinion. On a Sunday afternoon I just happened to come across Dr. Hey's website. I could not believe all of the success stories and before and after pictures. My "after picture" looked NOTHING like the ones he had on his website. I decided to put in a request asking for someone to contact me. I knew this would probably take a while. Later that afternoon--my phone rang and Dr. Hey himself contacted me about my request! I could not even believe it! He scheduled me an appointment the very next morning (which happened to be Columbus Day--so I was off work). This all seemed too good to be true. When I arrived at his office--the girl told me he didn't have any available appointments for months. It was amazing to me that he would fit me in his busy schedule like he did. He took X-rays and diagnosed me with Kyphosis--which is probably what led to my original rods breaking. He confidently told me he could fix my scoliosis and kyphosis and give me a stronger construct which would lead to a flatter, straighter back.

Forward to after my surgery---I had an amazing experience at the Duke Raleigh Hospital with Dr. Hey's Team--everyone was so amazing! As soon as I woke up from my surgery-Dr. Hey handed me a picture of my X-rays--I could not even believe it--my back was completely straight!

Me, last weekend with my new posture.
Six months later and I am completely PAIN FREE. It is amazing. I am 2 inches taller, my back is straight and flat. I feel like a whole new person! I can do everything I ever wanted to do without pain! It is absolutely unbelievable. Dr. Hey and the Hey Clinic for Scoliosis and Spine Surgery was a true answer to prayer. I cannot even express how blessed I am to be able to live my life pain free! I just hope other people are able to find Dr. Hey who have had failed surgeries who believe that there is really no hope to being fixed and pain free---when there definitely is!!! 

We love stories from our patients that let you see the compassionate, excellent care you will receive as part of our care family. 

Check out our other successful revisions-

Contact us at for an easy appointment request.
We would be happy to serve you and your family with a thorough second opinion about possible scoliosis bracing, surgery, or revision kyphosis, spondylolisthesis or scoliosis surgery for your child, adolescent or adult loved one.

Our guests tell us that we make it worth your trip!

Dr. Lloyd Hey
Hey Clinic for Scoliosis and Spine Surgery