Monday, June 29, 2009

Beautiful inside and out

I have mentioned our son's (Mr. Almost-16's) scoliosis and subsequent surgeries several times on this blog. In fact, the reason behind this blog was for me to write about our experience from the time just before diagnosis, the diagnosis itself, the surgeons, the surgeries and recovery. There are other entries in between these so I have chosen only a few. At the time, the more I wrote the more difficult it became to continue writing. I was a little disappointed because I expected the opposite.

Anyway, a few months ago my son had more X-rays done to see how healing has progressed in his spine.

This is an image of the X-ray at diagnosis (he is standing up straight) that shocked us to the core:

After his first surgery where T10 to L3 (five vertebraes) were fixed together with titanium rods and screws. His intervertebral discs were removed completely. He also had two ribs removed and 'chipped' over the instrumentation. The chips eventually grow and mould to create one solid fixture eliminating the chance of any further curvature of the spine.

Six weeks later he underwent further surgery where T5 to T12 (a further seven levels) fixed in a similar way to the first operation. Again, all intervertebral discs were removed. This time five ribs were removed and chipped over the instrumentation. This is the end result:

He does have limited movement but never once has he complained or questioned 'why me?'. After his second surgery his chest filled with 1.5 litres of blood and he almost had to be intubated for respiratory distress had it not been for pure luck. He even had a chest drain inserted to drain the fluid, no anaesthesia. This was the worst for him (and certainly us; we could hear his cries of agony 60 metres away down a long corridor).

He recently expressed to me that the main concern for him was worrying about us and how we were going to be disrupted with his hospitalisation, such is his selflessness. As you can imagine, he also has numerous huge scars on his chest and back and, on a recent beach holiday, commented that he needed his singlet to cover his hairy chest. He didn't make mention of the scars. He never makes mention of the scars. I wish he did, sometimes. But this is his way of dealing with 'it'.

Our wonderful son is as happy today as he looks in the first photo. He is the comedian of the family and his class, and an absolute car enthusiast. He is also academic and applies himself to his schoolwork like a mature-age student. He wants to study medicine to become a surgeon. He wants to be like his surgeon, one who talks with patients; a surgeon who asks his patients how they are before he sees them on the inside. I think he'll get there.


Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

What an incredibly courageous young man - you are, I'm sure, a very proud mum. And it must be so, so hard for you to see him go through all this. Life really sends us some interesting lessons, doesn't it.
Good luck to all of you and here's hoping that your son goes on to achieve all his dreams!

La Belette Rouge said...

The person who your son is tells me so much about the mother you are.
I am so sorry your son has had to go through this----yet, I am so happy he has parents who give him the strength to go through it with such grace.
What a wonderful doctor your son will be.

Suko said...

Your son is now the picture of health and happiness--and he's handsome, too. Sharing his story will inspire others who're in a similar situation. Thank you!

MyHijab said...

He is my inspiration. He always has been. And I love him more with each smile; that flawless smile that melts my heart.

There are times that he comes into my thoughts, and he makes me smile, there are times that I shed a tear or two. Not because I am sad, but because he has grown to be such an intelligent, trustworthy and respectful young man, from a chubby baby with the most adorable character who made my life a better one.

I may have only been 13 when he was born, but he was my own little perfection in a world that was made up of chaotic disruption.

Can I link to this post?

moumou said...

"dealing with it?", Mama, who told you i want to deal with it? I think my scars are sexy, and so is my hairy chest!
love you mama

lakeviewer said...

What a beautiful boy he is, strong and mature for his age. Thank you for sharing his story, for teaching us about courage.

septembermom said...

God bless your handsome son! I hope all his dreams are successful. I'm sure he'll be a compassionate, dedicated surgeon some day.

Natalie said...

Moumou ~ You are a beautiful young man.So full of smarts and courage too.I wish you everything that life has to offer, you deserve it. No wonder your Mama is proud. :D

Najm-us-Sahar said...


One brave mother you are. May GOD give you courage and give your handsome son a wonderful life so that his dream to become a surgeon will come tru.

take care

Natalie said...

Btw, Mervat, I will be posting some Nelson Bay photos this week. Just for you. :D xx♥

MyHijab said...

LOL @ moumou! I have heard you say it before, but to actually see it written is something else!!!

Anonymous said...

I couldn't tell you why, but this post nearly made me cry.

I wish him the best of luck (and you, of course). By that sounds of it, he will acheive all his goals and more.

Spencer L Casey said...

What a beautiful child.

see you there! said...

Your son's beautiful smile will go a long way towards establishing that special connection with his patients. I can just imagine him as a surgeon - doing it right!


Valerie said...

I always marvel at the incredible maturity of sufferers. Coming from such a handsome and determined fellow makes it doubly amazing. Those Mum and Son ties will never unravel. Cyber hugs for you both and thank you for sharing.

Valerie said...

Hi Mervat, popped on again to say there's an award waiting for you on my Val's Ramblings blog

Kitty Pryde said...

This post abt your son and his courage, YOUR courage as a mother brought tears to my eyes.

I pray that your all, esp your son and you, will have strength to get through this... and for his dreams to come true.

lunarossa said...

A truly wonderful young man! He went through so much in his young life but his smiles says he's happy! What an inspiring example in a world in which young people tend to lose their focus on what's really important. My compliments to you and your husband for bringing up such a great person. Ciao. A.

notSupermum said...

It's so lovely to read about your brave and inspirational son. You have raised a wonderful young man, and although he has been through a lot in his short life it will benefit someone later on when he becomes the caring doctor he surely will be one day.

Jane said...

What a handsome boy/man. I hope he reaches his goal and helps others who were in the same position himself.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

I am so glad to have read this post, which has taught me such a lot about fortitude, and happiness-in-the-face-of-pain. Your son reflects your tough and cheerful spirit.

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

I have tears in my eyes from reading this. What a strong young man.

Mervat said...

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah): Thank you. He is brave and despite it all goes on as any one his age. No complaints, no worries. It is funny how you can be living a routine existence to be suddenly jolted out of it and have to deal with something like this. We are fortunate to have reached this stage though.

La Belette Rouge: You have said something amazingly supportive and I thank you. I blamed myself for, I don't know what, really, for so long. I believe he was tested and he passed, with flying colours.

Suko: Thank you for your kind words and thoughts.

MyHijab: Your words are very moving and touched my heart. Thank you my dear little sis. M read them and was clearly moved as well.

He is what he is because of our loving, close family and we are very lucky.

moumou: My darling son you are too cute! And enough of that language young man ;)! I love you too, more than you will ever know

lakeviewer: Thank you. He taught me alot about courage and acceptance.

Mervat said...

septembermom: Thank you very much for your kind words.

Natalie: He was chuffed to read these words. Thanks Nat xo

Najm-us-Sahar: Thank you so much for your thoughful words and wishes.

Natalie: Loving the Nelson Bay pics so far...thank you!

MyHijab: He is something else eh?!

mysterycreature: Thank you so much for your comment and kind words.

Spencer L Casey: Thank you :)

Darla: That is so sweet of you to say that. Thank you.

Valerie: Thank you and cyber hugs back to you. And thank you for the award. It is much appreciated.

Kitty Pryde: Thank you so much. I guess at the time we go through a difficult time we don't realise how strong we actually are.
Some days (like recently) are quite tough when he has trouble moving about his daily activities and has to have time off school and it brings it home again. You just have to take it as it comes a day at a time.

lunarossa: Thank you my dear, your words of support mean so much.

notSupermum: Thank you. I truly hope, like any mother, that he achieves his dream as I know he will make a difference considering all that he has been through.

Jane: Yes, I cannot get over the fact that he is growing into a young man. Physically he towers over me (and has been for the last couple of years!). Thanks for your lovely words.

Sucharita Sarkar: Thank you so much for your comment. Tough and cheerful are perfect descriptors for him.

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati: thank you so much for your comment and your kind words.

Kayleigh said...

What a gorgeous, young man. (I also can't believe you are old enough to be his mom!)

His story and the brilliant way you have told it touched me from the first time I came to your blog. The tale is gripping and emotional and I related on so many levels. You, your son...your whole family have been on such an incredible journey.

But seeing those pictures of his spine...being a mom and knowing what you must have felt when you saw that first one -- words fail and only tears come. Even that last one, so much straighter but showing clear evidence of the scope, the ordeal...leaves me speechless as well.

Your son is a strong, resilient man and I've no doubt he gets a hefty portion of that from you.

Thank you, dear friend, for sharing the details of his tell it well and it so poignantly exemplifies the strength of the human spirit, yours and his -- a lesson I take particularly to heart :)

Blessings to you all...

radha said...

Bless you both. And I am sure his courage will take him through life stronger than most of us. And his love for you will help you through the ordeal.

♥ Braja said...

Mervat!! finally I'm able to comment after 3 wks of not being able to!

Actually now that I think of it, there are many who won't be happy about that....

Mervat said...

Kayleigh: I am so sorry for not responding earlier (we went away to the snow for a few days).

Thank you so much for your kind, thoughtful and supportive words. And yes, I am old enough to be his mother...although I don't behave like it sometimes...he will certianly vouch for that!

In writing this post I had you in mind. There is light at the other end although it may not be in the shade (could be even better) or intensity (it becomes clearer) that you expect it to be. Once we go through something like this we are never what we once were. It does change you, but I think it is for the better, I really do.

When we did see those X-rays, we asked ourselves many questions. And, being in the medical/science field, we blamed ourselves very much. Even one of the surgeons we consulted asked us how we could lekt it pass under the radar...his words!

radha: Thank you so much for your visit and for your kind words. You are so right in saying that his love for us is what made a difference. And he is never hesitant at expressing that love.

♥ Braja: Yay, she's ba-ack! And I am certainly happy about that!


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