Wow! I hadn't popped in here in a while and was stunned when I saw how many posts were now included in this thread! I'm trying to get caught up today, but it might take a while.

I just got done reading your post, Kevin, about the surgeon who said they would have to break every joint in the spine as they worked their way up. My response to that is the same as Alan's--huh? Or less politely, WTF? That is definitely not how the pedicle spinal osteotomy works, and in fact, I don't think doing it that way is even possible with an AS patient!! With the surgery that Alan and I had, along with John, Cheerful, and others, the doctors made a break in the spine at just ONE place, cut out a wedge-shaped piece of bone, then pull you backwards from your shoulders so that your spine slowly pulls back and down and "closes" the wedge up. Without being able to do a drawing, it's pretty hard to explain it any better than that. Just picture holding onto a curved metal rod. You want the rod to be straight, but it's too strong to bend as is. But, if you cut a small wedge out of hte metal right at the point where the curve is at its most extreme, you should weaken the rod and now you can bend it. OK, now picture holding the rod in your hands. The curve angles upward in the exact middle of the bar, meaning that you hold one end of the bar in each hand, and those ends are both a couple inches lower than the curved center is--it's not even close to being a U shape, with the ends pointed down, but instead picture maybe the wooden part of a bow (as in bow and arrow), ends pointing down, curve of the bow pointed upward, you holding onto those downturned ends.

OK, I realize I am totally overexplaining this, but on we go. As you hold that metal rod, which now has the wedge cut out, just picture bending each end upward. Whereas it was too strong to bend when you tried it before the wedge was cut out, now that it's been weakened, it bends easily. As you bend it, if you watch the wedge you will see it start to close as the rod become straighter--the rod starts to pinch together to fill in the gap that is now there. Eventually, the rod will be totally straight, and when it is, the wedge will be almost filled in because the two ends closed it off.

Now, that is exactly what they do with your spine--as I started to right before I got sidetracked trying to explain things better--and that wedge closes up too. With your spine, however, the wedge cannot close all the way by straightening out the patient--you can get close, but not closed al the way. Because of this, as another part of the surgery, they cut a small piece of living bone out of a donor site in your body--usually the pelvic bone--and insert those small bone chips into the small opening that still exists in the wedge. Because that bone is living, if things go right, it will graft to your spinal bone and, in a fairly short time, completely seal over whatever openine was still left in the wedge. This is important, because until it does totall graft and seal, your spine is at greater risk of breaking or being damaged and is not as strong as it will eventually be. That fact--that the spine is at great risk until the break that was created is totally sealed by new bone growth--is just one of the hundreds of reasons I can think of that I can't EVER see a doctor doing an osteotomy where he breaks EVERY joint in the spine. Make sense? I would be very leery of that doctor, and at the very least, I'd ask him what in the h*** he means when he says he'd have to break every joint in the spine? Tell him this is now how any osteotomy you've ever read about works (nor is it similar to any that your friends at an AS have been through), so how does this particular surgery even work? Better yet, why doesn't he do the standard
wedge osteotomy that only involves breaking the spine once, not multiple times?

On a completely different note, Alan, thank you so much for telling your entire story! I am through part 3 as I right this and can't wait to read the rest of it. I had no idea you were ever a police officer! You have led one totally fascinating life my friend--makes me even more bummed that I didn't make it to Toronto!!!