wings and things

Update on Ming’s scoliosis

on August 16, 2013

For those who don’t know, our son, Ming, had surgery 18 months ago to correct a severe (75% curve) scoliosis. This morning we had what was supposed to be the last post-op. appointment with his surgeon. The X-ray showed a fracture to the titanium rod, just below his shoulder blades. Ming wasn’t as shocked as I was because a couple of months ago he lifted some really heavy junk in one of our sheds (he’s not supposed to lift anything over 20 kilos), and rushed into the house in pain, terrified he had damaged something. We rang the surgeon who was reassuring on the phone, but Ming still needed a week off from farm work and he was in a lot of pain and panic with his spine clicking and clacking strangely.

At the time, partly because the surgeon didn’t feel it necessary to fast-track today’s appointment, I just kept reassuring Ming that he would be fine and I remember saying things like, “You can’t break titanium, Ming; I’m sure you’ve just pulled a muscle” etc. Well, I was wrong, obviously, and the surgeon now wants to see him again in 4 months, with a slight possibility of further surgery to fix the fracture. The fact that Ming is no longer in pain is a good sign, but the fracture has pulled the curve (which had been reduced to 28%) back to 35%, and Ming is upset with himself for being stupid, and upset with me for being so overly, and naively, reassuring.

But the good thing is that Ming is okay with things and is staying with one of his best friends tonight, where he will have fun and hopefully forget today’s news for a little while. And tomorrow he and I will undoubtedly discuss the situation and look at the bloody bright side and carry on. Tonight I will let myself shed a few anxious tears in order not to do so in front of Ming.

The picture is before surgery. He is much straighter now, and taller!


56 responses to “Update on Ming’s scoliosis

  1. ytaba36 says:

    Oh, cr*p, what a rotten thing to happen. No wonder you feel like a good blub.

  2. Julie Lane says:


    Sent from my iPad

  3. Vicki (from Victoria A Photography) says:

    Oh my goodness, Julie.

    I’m so sorry to hear that it’s slipped to 35% – at least he is no longer in pain. I do so hope that it can be rectified with minimal stress in some surgery. I can imagine what this news would be like to him and hope he will ‘bounce’ back in spirit.

    Glad to hear he is staying with a friend tonight. No doubt they will have a beer or two and he will feel uplifted by the friend’s company. Sometimes as much as you would like him to still be your ‘boy’, he needs a male buddy to share his thoughts.

    And do try not to worry too much. Ming has a wonderful cheerful spirit and a fine sense of humour, so he’ll be Just Fine.

    (It’s blowing a gale like a hurricane here in Melbourne at the moment. Didn’t you have that fierce wind over in the west the other day? I wish you’d take it back again – lol. It’s sounding a bit like the February night a few years ago, when many of the 200 yr old trees in the Botanic Gardens & surrounds blew down. I don’t mind the fierce wind gusts normally, but tonight is scary. I guess there’ll be a lot of house, tree & garden damage on the TV news tomorrow).

    • jmgoyder says:

      You are right, Vicki – Ming will bounce back. Re winds, yes a lot of stormy weather here too but not as severe as yours sounds! Stay safe. Juliexx

  4. Glad it can be repaired. You’ll never doubt his pain, etc. again. Years ago when our eldest was a high school wrestler, he complained of wrist pain and never told me because the coach and trainer all said it was nothing and “you’re supposed to hurt in wrestling.” By the time he did tell me, he needed major surgery that included a bone graft and an overnight stay (which in the US hardly happens!) — and then 6 months of doing nothing. He’s fine now and was able to continue wrestling ( though every time he said something hurt, I took him to the doctor.). Frankly, I was relieved when wrestling was finally over after 4 years! Good luck with your son- I’m sure he’ll be fine. Young people heal fast.

  5. Poor Ming! Poor Mum! I like Julie Lane’s response. It fits!

  6. Oh Julie! I’ll cry with you. So sorry to hear about this — and I too have a tooth infection right now and I too do not feel myself! YUuck!

  7. Terry says:

    why did he lift over his limit? I understand boys will be boys, but now you are going to worry and you have enough. I just would like to see you have a few days of smiles, laughter and good times my friend

  8. I canunderstand how you felt about the whole thing, I always want to think that it is mch less than it actually is, just because going to the worst case immediately is just too awful for me. Ming is going to bounce back and so will you. Scoliosis runs in my family, my two don’t have it but I do and so does my cousin Babette who had a steel rod drilled to her spine in the early seventies in France. She is 53 now and still walking tall and proud, stiff of course because she can’t bend her spine but she is beautiful. Ming will be a okay.

  9. Oh this set back is too bad. You are both so awesome and I know you’ll make it through. When everything is the way it should be will Ming ever be able to lift more than 20 kilos?

  10. How disappointing for Ming. It’ll be sorted but perhaps it’s taught him a lesson early.

  11. Colline says:

    I hope it can be resolved with less pain than he had experienced before.

  12. janechese says:

    Darn, that is a stroke of bad luck. Hope it all goes well in recovery.

  13. Andrea Kelly says:

    Oh shoot! I’m sorry to hear that 😦 I hope things go well at the next check-up!

  14. My cousin-in-law went through the same thing 40 years ago. Here is hoping Ming is able to get back to how he was before this latest set-back and that everything proves to be successful.

  15. Robyn Lee says:

    Oh my goodness Julie — I am so surprised one can fracture titanium… feel awful that Ming has to deal with this after all he’s been through and finally putting the scoliosis behind him. I pray it’s an easy fix. Please keep me posted ~ in my heart xxooo love u ~ R

  16. Debbie says:

    Ouch! Good lesson learned. You get well!!!

  17. best wishes…hope the next few months go quickly for you both!

  18. Aw, so sorry. Bummer.

  19. I do recall your updates and photos of Ming post op and how utterly courageous I found all three of you. Life being such a paradox for you,
    My eyes welled up reading this tonight Jules and it seemed longer ago in my mind. I can only imagine what Ming is feeling, yet I have a better imagination towards what you are feeling. I just remarked recently that motherhood should have come with a protective sheeting for the heart
    This is about the time my mom would have said to me, “Stiff upper lip young lady!” 🙂

    As someone with a Titanium plate in her neck (c-3-c-7) I was alarmed to read this about Titanium. I thought it not possible.

    • jmgoyder says:

      I can’t believe this has happened and that we weren’t warned!

      • This is so concerning to me, for Ming especially. He is so young. I think of the frustrating & painful months your young man must have felt his life was on hold while waiting for the surgery, healing from the surgery, rehabilitating from the surgery. Why that he (any of us ) were not given a heads-up warning that this could happen just wrecks havoc with my peace of mind.
        This is alarming for so many people just that I know.
        So, now we know the hardware should have had a new image taken and looked at immediately after an injury… Makes me furious, sometimes I don’t think our genuine concerns are taken serious enough.

        Because of my prior experience with an implant failure I was extremely skeptical and cautious about another medical implant. I had put the surgery off for three years of pain just because I was so reluctant. until because my range of motion had became s minimal in my neck and left arm I had no choice. Not if I wanted to function.

        I spent almost 7 months researching anything I could find on Titanium. I had not done so with the Vitek implants, then naively trusting the name DuPont & that my doctor thought the implant a viable solution for me. (You know the outcome)
        I had the best neurosurgeon, he had the endearing quality of really listening & the compassion to give me his home number with instructions to phone anytime I had a concern and was not finding a satisfying answer. I decided after much education (I thought at the time) I knew enough to feel safe with the fusion.
        My good news is that as of last image my hardware was all nicely intact still. My doctor said ‘ your spine is wearing out above & below the fusion but the graph and Titanium are in good shape”

        I sit here baffled. How does someone know if the risks are too great?

      • jmgoyder says:

        I knew you would understand what we are going through having been through so much yourself, BB. That titanium is breakable and bendable is a shock, but Ming did lift something way beyond the weight he should have so he blames himself. The good news is that he is not in pain but argh! Thank you so much for your wonderful words.

      • I cannot emote my sense of relief enough upon learning Ming is not experiencing any pain, he’s a brave young man & I have confidence in his resilient attitude will always serve him abundantly
        Now about that protective sheeting for these mom’s hearts…

      • jmgoyder says:

        He seems to be more in a state of psychological pain – very moody today.

  20. elizabeth says:

    Sending up prayers for Ming and for you Julie. (((hugs)))

  21. niasunset says:

    Oh dear Julie, I am so sad to hear this, I wish you both everything go quickly and fine… You are always in my thoughts, love and hugs, nia

  22. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    It’s good to know the picture is before surgery as it was a bit scary to see. I really hope he’s way way straighter.

    All the best to you & Ming 🙂

    • jmgoyder says:

      He had to give notice today, after only just going full-time at our neighbour’s dairy. He just can’t lift the heavy milk buckets and feels so embarrassed and emasculated by this permanent incapacity. The fractured bit of the titanium can be surgically corrected, but the fact that he will never be able to lift anything is just sinking in. I feel devastated for him. The ‘now’ photo (which I haven’t posted) shows the curve is worse again. Very teary.

  23. Awful news. I had no idea you could break titanium!!

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