Greetings to my Beloved Family, my dear “Old” Friends of many years, my “Newer” Friends, and my Sisters and Brothers in Christ, and All who are praying for me. I am writing to you through the vehicle of the Caring Bridge Website, which serves to disseminate information and updates about the progress of people who are going through challenging Health and Recovery experiences. You are receiving this because I care about you, and you have touched my life in important and cherished ways. I hope that you will want to Register on the Caring Bridge Website….just follow the prompts to my name and sign up. I invite you to “walk out my miracle path to healing” with me. This God-ordained opportunity was, heretofore, not even possible for me, by medical science…..until now ! The following is some background information to illustrate and clarify the “ Sure Testimony”, which I will be declaring throughout the rest of my life. God, In Christ, Be Praised ! When I was age 13, I was diagnosed with, what was then, about a 15-20 degree Scoliosis (curvature of the spine), which is now classified as a progressive disease. I was a healthy, active girl, and a serious Classical Ballet student. In those days, medical science knew little about Scoliosis. The Doctor advised taking me out of Ballet School, and pulling me out of school PE classes, and all vigorous activities, to prevent any stresses on my spine, until the skeletal system matured, and my bones had hardened. Incidentally, the exact opposite course would have been advised today…….exercising of the body’s core muscles/ spine actually strengthens the back from “sagging” and weakening the skeletal “architecture” of the body. Being taken out of Ballet, which I had studied since age 3, with a young girl’s dream of being a professional Ballerina, devastated me. I was seriously depressed for a year after this shock. By about age 17-18, I was allowed to return to dancing, and do all the other typical activities of my age group…..I never was into sports. I did a little dancing, some water-skiing, and horseback riding, and I stood long hours working in fashion retail. I did a fair amount of fashion modeling, while going through college at FSU, then getting married, and having and raising my daughter, Shannon. I pursued some interesting career fields, and I loved ballroom classes and social dancing. My body was healthy, strong, in good shape, active, and pain-free. However, all through the past 60 years, my spine has been slowly, gradually “ collapsing” into the 72 degree, twisted, S-curved Scoliosis form, which I have today. That includes the increasing prominence of the left back rib cage “ “pushing out”, and giving my back an embarrassing deformity, which is very distressing to me. I try to obscure it with careful clothing choices. I once stood at 5’-7”. Today I have shrunk to 5’- 1.5” Next to my grandkids, I look like a shrimp ! Since I was age 46, I have not lived a single day without back pain in variable levels, from 6 to 24 hours a day, depending on stressing activities of that day. Over 25 years, I have been seen and evaluated by many prominent Ortho- and Neuro-Surgeons. They all just shook their heads and could only suggest the option of life-long “Pain Management” therapies. I’ve had many painful spinal injections over 20+ years, and more pain pills than I ever wanted, with minimal relief. Doctors have called my back “ a Life Sentence” and a “Train Wreck”. Hopeless! My problems have ”robbed my life” of many adventures, career choices, travel, etc. But I believe that God has finally said, “Enough!” THERE IS HOPE !
Miraculously, last October, with updated MRI’s and X-rays in hand, my Sweetheart, Mike, and my daughter, Shannon, and I met with Dr. Andrew Cannestra, with The Lyerly Neurological Group ( in Jax). I was in utter shock when Dr. C. told us that he could “fix” my spine and “change my life”. He said that he could correct my spine to possibly 75% to 90% of correct alignment, He could help me to be able to stand up straight, could correct my failing balance and walking, improve my breathing and digestive functions, AND add 2-3+ inches to my height. He said he could at least greatly decrease or possibly eliminate most of my back pain, and correct my deformed back. We were all shocked, but elated! We also felt a good bit of anxiety too, as Dr. C. explained the 2 Days ( with a total of 18 to 20+ hours) of Surgery and the One Year of Recovery required ! But my family and I immediately said, YES ! We’re ALL IN!” Let’s GO FOR IT! “ I never imagined that any healing of my spine could ever happen on this side of Heaven. SO……In a few days, on Monday, January 30th, 2017, and then two days later, on Wednesday, February 1st, Dr. Cannestra and a large OR Team, will go to work to re-build my spine ! BTW…..It takes only 4-5 hours to have Heart Transplant Surgery. Dr. C. is one of only 9 Docs in the US who utilize the revolutionary, “gold standard”, “science fiction-like”, Mazur Renaissance Robotic Guidance System to perform this complex procedure. It will also involve the placement of tiny “cages” with bone stem cells and bone-growth hormones, which will work to help my own body grow its own bone grafting between vertebrae, and I will have the placement of many screws, up and down the spine ( from T10 to S1), and attached to a central rod. The surgery is all mapped out in advance on a computer….unbelievable technology ! One lung will be collapsed for an hour, as well. My internal organs: heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, stomach, intestines, etc, will all be “pulled upward” and into close-to-normal alignment. YIKES! Modern Miracle Medical Science! God, Help Me Get Through This ! Thank You All For Praying For Me. I’ll be at The Weaver Tower at Baptist Hospital, in a heap of pain, and really drugged up, for 4 to 8 days ( not sure). Then I will be transferred to Brooks Rehab Hospital (on University Blvd), where I will be in Physical Therapy “Boot Camp” for 3 to 6 weeks, depending on my progress. They have a great Team there, I hear. After I return home, I will be fairly functional, with basic ADL’s…. Activities of Daily Living. I’ll have to wear a chest-to-hip torso brace for 6 to 8 weeks, and will be in a Physical Therapy regimen for 6 to 12 months, but pretty much back to “normal?” within about 6 weeks, I’m told. I can’t drive for 2-3 months. My family and friends will be helping me as much as they can, esp. Shannon and Mike.
I hope that you may want to follow my progress on Caring Bridge. If you wish to, you can post a message, a prayer, a joke, a poem, a photo, etc. on the site, to cheer me up a bit. I’ll be reading messages off of my iPhone or iPad everyday, and Shannon ( or I) will be posting updates regularly from Day One of Surgery. Thanks so much for reading all of this……..its going to be the biggest challenge in my Physical Life, ever. I am clinging to God’s Word, including some favorites below: “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:10 “You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have removed my sackcloth and clothed me with Joy!” Psalm 30:11
So, there you have it….My Story….. I’m gonna “Rock This Surgery”, and Dance again!