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Preparing for Surgery

1) Spinal fusion surgery is not an easy thing to go through. You need to prepare yourself mentally as well as physically. Going in knowing everything you can about the procedure helps tremendously. Ask your doctor as many questions as you can think of, read up about it online, and try to get in contact with someone who actually has undergone the procedure. A great website to get in contact with adolescents with scoliosis is How to Look Good Twisted.

2) Before surgery, you may be asked to donate some of your own blood to be given back to you after the surgery. If so, you'll probably be asked to take some iron tablets. If you do take them, make sure to add fiber to your diet. As embarrassing as it sounds, iron tablets tend to make you constipated.

3) Overall, just try to eat a healthy diet. You need to get your body into the best shape possible. Get plenty of exercise and tone up your muscles, because you will be "out of commission" for quite some time after the surgery. Toning up your arms is an especially good idea because you will be using them to help propel you out of bed after surgery. You won't just be able to sit up, you'll have to logroll to your side and then use your arms to push you upright. Don't worry, you'll learn this in the hospital.

4) Make some adjustments in your house. Try to get everything in a comfortable reach (i.e. move things from a high cabinet lower, vice versa). In the shower, try to get a loofah with a long plastic handle so you can easily wash your body since you won't be able to bend. If you really need to shave your legs, you can either ask someone to help you or attach a razor to a stick. Just be careful. You may want to have a shower chair, since it will be very hard to stand for long periods of time after surgery and you may get dizzy/lightheaded easily. Just make sure when you're taking a shower that you have someone in the bathroom with you for a few weeks immediately after just in case.

5) Have someone there to help you, whether it be your parents or even your best friend. Even the most independent people will need assistance, because scoliosis surgery is no simple procedure. When you walk around after surgery, especially up and down stairs, have someone there to make sure you don't fall. You will have very poor balance for a while after surgery as your body gets used to its new position.

6) You will be very stiff after surgery and will have to get used to doing things a little differently. Depending on the length of your fusion you will most likely not be able to bend normally, only at the waist. Walking around will feel very different due to the stiffness. On a positive note, you will likely have great posture!

7) Memory foam is amazing! Try to get a memory foam topper for your mattress and a memory foam pillow. You will not regret spending the extra bucks for them. For a while, you will be very uncomfortable and will need a pillow to sit against, and the memory foam one is very comfortable as it molds to your body. Don't be embarrassed to bring your pillow with you to a restaurant, school, etc. after surgery.

8) For the hospital, you should bring some very comfortable clothes. Button-down pajama sets are very useful, as it will be hard to lift your arms over your head at first. While you're in the actual hospital, though, you'll probably end up wearing your gown for almost the entire time.

9) If you're female, make sure to bring some sanitary napkins with you (no tampons unfortunately). The stress of the surgery often causes many females to start their periods. you don't want to use the pads the hospital have available.

10) Other things to bring to the hospital may include a robe (you may be cold often after surgery), slippers with a solid grip to walk around in, socks (fluffy spa socks are great), chapstick (your lips will be very dry and you'll appreciate it), toothbrush/toothpaste, deodorant, face wipes, a hairbrush, and anything else you feel is necessary. Before surgery, females will typically be asked to put their hair in two tight braids. This is to prevent knots and just to make it easier. And trust me, you won't care about how you look right after surgery.