surgery. [ pectus excavatum ]

Friday, November 11, 2011

crazy beautiful fog on our drive down to Norfolk :)

why, hello there long lost friends.
it has been a while, hasn't it...

well my life has been moving in 100 different directions, as always... currently working 3 different part-time jobs, plus trying to paint as much as possible.  but I'm certainly not complaining, and feeling incredibly blessed to have too many opportunities instead of none.

the boy and I just returned from Norfolk, VA last night after having surgery which ended a long, long process to finally get to this point.  I've decided to share my little story just in case anyone out there is curious, or has children born with my same condition.

I have/had Pectus Excavatum.  it's a big fancy word for a dip in my chest.  it's a hereditary condition (my grandma and uncle has it too), more common in boys than girls, with about 1 in 1,000 people having it.  you've probably noticed it on other people- it looks like a little hole right in the middle of the chest.  mine wasn't quite as noticable as it would be on boys, because it just kinda looked like cleavage when I wore a bikini.  I've had it my entire life, but didn't really realize I was any different until about middle/high school.  I became increasingly self conscious about it, especially as I got more into modeling.  but it wasn't until my sophomore year in college I decided to actively search for a way to fix it.

I had played soccer all my life, and was playing in college when I noticed a sudden decrease in endurance, when I never struggled to be in shape ever before.  I had a few tests done to find out that due to my pectus excavatum, my heart was being pushed over, pushing down on my lung, and effecting my breathing and lung capacity.  I did a LOT of research online, and learned about the "Nuss Procedure", a relatively new innovation and the first minimally invasive procedure of it's time to correct my condition.  Dr. Nuss led a department in Norfolk at the Children's Hospital of the Kings Daughter, so I went straight to the best to have my surgery.

after a few more tests, and approval from my insurance, I had the Nuss Procedure performed on April 23, 2009 by Dr. Kuhn.  click on the link for more info, but essentially they put one or two metal bars (I had two) across the chest to push out the sternum.  They went in through just two small incisions on the sides of my chest (the scars kinda look like I had a boob job, ha).  The idea is that the bars bend the sternum out to the correct position, and then stay in my chest for a few years to allow the bones to heal and eventually be self-sufficient.  the surgery I had yesterday was the final procedure to remove the bars.

I am absolutely satisfied with the results, and even more thrilled to finally be finished and no longer have metal protruding from my sides, ha.  but I also had a few complications along the way...  they advise to have surgery when you are young, 10-12 years old, when your bones are still growing and more malleable.  I was on the older side of the spectrum when I decided to have it done at 19.  because of this, my recovery period was about 6-8 months long instead of 6 weeks- 3 months like they had prepared me for.  I had to stop playing soccer after my sophomore year because I was still in so much pain when my junior season started.  it was really devastating for me to have to quit, after playing for 13 years, and since soccer was my motivation to have the surgery in the first place...

but all in all, I do like the way I look... and be able to finally consider myself normal.  I do not regret having the surgery.  my initial scars are really minimal, hidden in a bra and bikini.  and when I had the bars removed yesterday they went through the same incision sites.

if you, or someone you know, are considering getting this surgery, by all means, feel free to e-mail me with any questions.  there were a lot of things I wish I had known and been more prepared for when I had the initial surgery and I hope that putting my experience out there can help...

p.s. thank you to all who has served and is currently serving in our military! 
&& it's 11.11.11 make a wish* :)

1 thoughts:

  1. my good friend had something the same or very similar...definitely remember her stories of feeling exhausted and winded after simple exercises in her school p.e. classes.

    i'm glad everything went well for you...any surgery whether routine or not is scary!


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