Friday, October 14, 2011

Surprise Turnaround!!

Every once in awhile, God throws a surprise your way :-)  Yesterday was one of those days.  We walked in the door of the hospital having been prepared by one MD to expect to be scheduling surgery, and left having been told Matthew can start easing into certain activities and that no surgery is eminent!

How did this all turn around?  I am not so sure, but we have one very relieved boy and one very happy mama.  The surgeon examined Matthew and sat down to discuss his perspective with us.  He said that he tends to be far more conservative about recommending surgery because it is a very difficult one to go through for this problem, and often the results aren't what would be hoped for.  He explained to us that Matthew is far bigger and stronger than the average 12 year old and that was working for him.  When asked Matthew told him that the pain had subsided considerably since the last visit due to the lack of any activity that might cause things to worsen.  That was a very good sign and that combined with Matthew's strength helped the MD come to the conclusion that we should go a different route for now and see how things develop.

Evidently, very often this problem becomes asymptomatic, even without surgery, if the patient actually listens to the advice of their physician.  While the area of the spine never really heals, if rested and muscles are strengthened surrounding it, that can often be enough to cause the pain to cease.  If there is no pain, then they will not do surgery and consider the problem "corrected" unless something happens one day to cause it to flare up. 

However, there will be limitations....he said it would be wise if Matthew never participated in running sports, so no track, football, basketball, that sort of thing.  Luckily for Matt, he is not interested in those sorts of activities, so there will be no loss there.  He did enjoy soccer but it was so painful the last season he played that it was no fun at all for him.  He has to watch any activity that causes him to land hard on his feet causing downward pressure, and avoid any activity that causes him to have too much extension of his back like bike riding on bikes that cause him to lean forward with an arched back.  Believe it or not, he CAN go back to TaeKwonDo which made Matthew a very happy guy, being so close to working towards his black belt had him really bummed out stop.  They said the stretching involved in TaeKwonDo will be particularly good for him, but he is to start slowly, and must wear his back brace and stop the moment he feels any twinge.  He can no do the physical pieces involved with Civil Air Patrol, as that is things like running, sit ups and push ups, all things on the "no no" list due to causing downward pressure and arching of his back continually.  He can do things like swimming, volleyball next year if he wants, bike riding...and his beloved trampoline!  What???  Wear the back brace to keep from arching his back too much while doing it, but it is a gentle cushioned landing and a good way to keep fit.

The other thing he insisted on was that Matthew join a yoga class if we have one available to us.  That got a grin out of Matt and the MD, who was very cool, said "He dude, don't's where the cute chicks are!" and Matt really laughed over that one.  He said that yoga would be perfect for developing long term core strength, but that there too he would have to avoid certain actions but a good instructor would understand what would work and what would not.

He did say that having this problem at a much younger than average age leaves Matthew more likely to need surgery in the future,  as the kids who do eventually need it are usually the ones who have this problem this young and younger.  However if he faithfully listens to what they tell him, he is a good candidate to avoid surgery due to sheer luck of good genes and being in such good physical shape already to avoid it.  He said "You son already has an athlete's build and strength, and responding so well already to no activity is a strong indicator that he could be one of the kids who can avoid surgery if he continues to listen to us.  I expected a much smaller child to walk through the door, and based on the test results that he would still be complaining of pain.  Upon examining him, I am opposed to scheduling surgery but want to keep a close eye on this with twice a year exams."  We also need to call and report if anything else comes up, even the smallest thing.

When I asked if it would be even better if Matt continued to be inactive for a few months longer he said that they have a different philosophy and recognize that kids need activity, so they try and be creative and allow as much as possible that will help keep a kid's spirit in good shape too.  He said they try and evaluate activities by movement, not generalize and throw them all out the window.  I was so appreciative of this approach, as Matt was getting quite depressed over not being able to do anything at all, and was ready to have surgery just so he could play again.  Now he feels he can handle not doing things like running, etc. because there is still so much he CAN do.

So, blessed is the word I'd use today, very blessed and hopeful that in the long run, if he is compliant, he can completely avoid surgery.  The doctor said it is definitely still within the realm of possibility as his body grows, but starting now on core strengthening and avoiding specific activities that will worsen the condition can make all the difference in the world.  He laughed and said that kids always surprise him, and this time he certainly was surprised to see a strapping young guy walk in, especially considering Matt's background. 

Now, I have to get going so we can get on the road.  Thanks so much for all your prayers of support. We are leaving in a totally different mode than we expected to be!!! :-)


Anna said...

yes, a huge blessing indeed, if you think of it two, the Dr sounds incredible. Gods hand in the matter indeed. Have a wonderful weekend!

Anonymous said...

That is wonderful news for Matt and his family! What a blessing from God. What a great kid you have there....four great kids!

Enjoy your renewed activities, Matthew. Your self-discipline an so many areas of your life will help you follow the doctors orders and help you keep yourself strong.

Nancy in the Midwest

The Gobble's (Lanetta) said...

Cindy... what wonderful news! :) SO SO SO thrilled! Yeah... Go Matthew! :) Have a wonderful trip home... I know you will!

The Gobble's (Lanetta) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hilary Marquis said...

Wonderful news! Hey, I think we should just skip the yoga...BALLET is much better ;)

Anonymous said...

Hey - that's great news! How about swimming? That's great for long muscle strength and flexibility, but it's non-jarring to the back.

Have any of the doctors ever mentioned MedX physical therapy? It isolates the back and only focuses on strengthening the tiny muscles that support the spine. McKenzie method is also good. I'd suggest asking about it!

Anonymous said...

Relief, joy, gratitude, laughter, smiles, prayer, love--great going all eight of you on Team LaJoy. You are the hands and hearts of God in Matt's life. Bless this doctor also.


Anonymous said...

Yes! So happy for Matthew. Praying it continues to improve.
Teresa F.

Anonymous said...

Great news -- we have been praying -- as one who
lives with limitations, Matt has got it right --
it's about what you CAN do, and stopping as soon
as something hurts -- it's never worth it to keep going,
-- just find a different way to do it or do something
else. Sometimes through limitations, new doors
open as we are forced to try new things.

Love to you all,

Peggy & family in Virginia

Anonymous said...

We are thrilled for Matt! Thanks for posting!!! We'd been watching for news! Much joy for Team LaJoy!

Love to ALL,
Mr Steve and Ms Jane

Anonymous said...

What great news! Blessings abound! I'm so glad for Matthew and for you, Cindy!
Kaye Hult

anne k said...

Great news !

Anonymous said...

Great news. Prayers do work!
Fran in FtW.