Good News & Great Neighbors

I got some good news from the doctor this week.  I didn’t explain it in my earlier blog, because all of that was a lot to take in as it is. But there is a relatively new way to lengthen bones, and it is done completely internally. This procedure is called lengthening over nails or LON. It involves reaming out your bone canal and placing a rod inside. At first the doctor told me my bones were too small and the rod wouldn’t fit – so we’d have to do the lengthening with an external fixator. But he’s been looking at my x-rays and now says he thinks he can fit the rod inside if he puts it in from the bottom instead of the top.

Image    This is a side x-ray of my right leg. Dr. H says he’ll break my femur where it’s bowed slightly at the bottom – to straighten it out. He’ll insert the rod near my knee and ram it upwards. (Ram is a harsh word, but that’s basically what will happen.)

Why is this good news? By LON, I won’t have as many scars. With the external fixator – each pin gives you a long scar. I have 22 of those already from the last time I had the surgery. Also, having equipment on the outside is uncomfortable. You can only sleep in one position. Plus you can’t pull pants and underwear overtop of an external fixator. You have to Velcro them – kind of like a one-sided diaper. Check out the cool pants and underwear I already had altered before I knew my doctor could do LON.

Image  Image

From what I understand with LON, there is a thin rod inside of a thicker rod placed inside the bone canal of my femur. One rod will be anchored into my bone at the top – the other at the bottom. The doctor will break my bone in the middle. There is a little magnet somewhere in the rod. Everyday we’ll hold another magnet on top of my leg which will activate the other magnet inside of my leg to push the rods apart little by little. We’ll do about a millimeter a day and after 50 days my leg will be 2 inches longer. The lengthening and recovery/healing is pretty much comparable to the external method, but there’s no pins through my skin, equipment on the outside or cranking of bolts – which sounds like a plus.

Image This is a picture of the LON method from my surgeon’s website. Mine would be on my femur instead of the lower part pictured here – but same concept.

Dr. H has only performed this LON method on eight other patients, but he says all have been a success.

The downside is it’s so new that the FDA has not yet cleared the outside magnet for home use. A “medical professional” has to hold the magnet over your leg. Dr. H admits it’s a simple device to use and anyone could do it. He expects it to be cleared for home use soon, but it isn’t yet. So my two options were live in Baltimore for 2 months so my doctor can hold a magnet over my leg every day – or find a medical professional who lives in Pittsburgh to travel to Baltimore, get trained in using the magnet and commit to coming to my house every day for two months to hold a magnet over my leg.

I thank the Lord for George and Susan. I grew up with Susan’s daughter Ashley. We attended the same church. We live in the same neighborhood. They are the kind of people who feel more like family than friends. After Ashley’s father passed away, Susan married George and the two have continued to be a part of our lives. George is a retired surgeon who has graciously agreed to take on this task – so I can lengthen at home.  It is no small favor and a huge commitment for them. I am so blessed. They will come to Baltimore a week after my surgery so George can get trained on the magnet. Once we’re back in Pittsburgh, I’ve been told George can train other “medical professionals” how to use it, so the burden won’t be totally on him.

I never imagined the thought of getting my bone reamed out would be good news, but in this case it is. I’m taking this with a grain of salt. Things can change and it might turn out I have to have the external fixator at the last minute. I really feel in my heart that I am meant to have this procedure now. I’m hoping it goes as smoothly as possible, but I’ll hang onto my Velcro undies just in case.

Romans 8: 28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

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4 thoughts on “Good News & Great Neighbors

  1. Thanks for sharing your journey Flynn! I will be praying for you and your family through this process. When you were 11 I remember thinking about what a strong and courageous young woman you were…. I think the same thing now.

  2. I am a friend of your father. He shared with me about your surgery. You have been in my thoughts and prayers. I was glad to hear that the surgery went well. You will continue to be in my prayers and in the prayers of the members of my parish during the days and weeks ahead. God bless you.

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