We got Ammon's surgery dates yesterday afternoon. The first surgery will be July 21 and the second surgery will be August 15. It's much later in the summer than we wanted because he will now miss almost an entire semester of sixth grade next year. However, we will take what we can get since it has taken nearly a year to get this set up.
Just for your information, the first surgery is an upper body release - they release tendons, scar tissue, etc., that may be holding the spinal cord. He will then be put into a halo from his chest up to the top of his head as a way of using traction. That will be in place until the second surgery in August. He will do most of his recovery from the first surgery at Shriner's Hospital although both surgeries will take place at Primary Children's Medical Center. He will be moved back to PCMC for the second surgery and will stay there until he is ready to come home. The second surgery requries that he be opened from the top of his neck to the end of his spinal cord. The neurosurgeon will clean out a mass of scar tissue that is tethered to the cord to release it. If it is too massive and the doctor can't cleanly clear it out, they will do a cordectomy, clipping the spinal cord at that point. We are hoping like crazy that won't be necessary. The orthopedists will then insert rods along his spinal cord all the way up the spinal column.
According to doctors, this is one of the hardest, most complicated surgeries most people ever have to go through. About 15% of the kids have to have their shunts replaced during the ordeal. We will pray mightily that won't happen with Ammon.
We are doing our best to prepare him without causing great fear. The recovery period from the last surgery until he is able to go back to school is about three months. Luckily, the school will provide time for his aides to come and help him every day to try and keep up some of his school work. I guess that will depend on how he feels and how well he bounces back. We had his IEP this morning and it went very well and we have some plans in place for next year.
It's going to be a long summer. I guess we'll have to play like crazy during June!
I wrote this so I would only have to explain once - and this is about all the information we have. So now you know as much as we do.
Keep this kid in your prayers - he is going to need them.
Love you all - Mom