A Christmas Message
From Jimmy Bossert (age 11)
12/15/2009

2009 has been quite a year for me. It started out like any other year…I rang in the New Year like I always do, sipping sparkling grape juice in the hot tub with my parents. Life was good. In January, I had an appointment with my Orthopedic Surgeon to check the status of my scoliosis. I did this several times a year just to keep an eye on things. To my surprise, my curve was increasing. It had gone from 50° to 60° since my last appointment. But it was not overly concerning and I would see the doctor again in 3 months for a recheck. At that appointment my curve had increased to over 70°. It was becoming clear that my scoliosis was no longer manageable in a brace and that spinal fusion surgery was going to happen sooner than later. That’s when the whirlwind started. Tests, x-rays, appointments with new doctors, appointments with old doctors, tests, tests and more tests. I had always known that I would need to have the surgery, but I wasn’t expecting it to happen so suddenly. I am only 11 years old and I’m not supposed to have it until I’m 15 or 16. But, because my curve was no longer stable, and my lung function had diminished to 65 percent, it was official; I needed to have MAJOR spinal fusion surgery A.S.A.P. “WHAT????” I thought. “How can this be possible?” I was really scared. I asked my orthopedic surgeon to tell it to me straight, “How much pain will I be in???” He said, “It will be more pain than you have ever experienced in your life!” I was really afraid but I didn’t want my parents to see my fear. That was in June.


The first of my two surgeries was scheduled for July 29 and the second on August 5. Six weeks of waiting. I was freaking out. I was going to have 2 major surgeries, have titanium rods and screws put into my back, and be in the hospital for at least 2 weeks with many weeks of recovery at home (and let’s not forget all of the pain the doctor told me about). I was supposed to start junior high school in August. A new school with all new people. I knew that I would have to miss the start of school and I was really bummed. Well, I tried to make the most of the weeks leading up to my surgery. I was somewhat restricted because I couldn’t risk getting sick and having to put the surgery off until a later date. I spent as much time as I could with my friends and at the barn with Braveheart.


Well, July 29 finally arrived. Most of my family was at the hospital that morning and that really comforted me because now I was really scared. When it was time to go to pre-op, my Mom and Dad went with me. Waiting in the pre-op area that first day was the scariest part of the entire experience. I was so glad that my parents were always by my side. As it turned out, there was a serious complication with my first surgery. I didn’t find out for a couple of days and I was not too happy about it. It meant that I would have another surgery, three in all. The days that followed the first surgery were really crazy because the doctors had to figure out what was going on inside my body before they could proceed. There were lots more tests, procedures and needles. So much happened over the weeks that followed and I could go on and on.


Ultimately, my surgeries were done successfully and I was recovering. I was now fused from T3-L2 posterior and T7-L2 anterior and boy did I have the scars to prove it! I will never forget my last day in the hospital. Dr. Mardjetko came in to my room to see me and said “Get this kid out of here, he has hospitalitis”. “What’s hospitalitis?” I said, “Is there something else wrong with me?” Nope. It just meant that I needed to go home and I was so happy. But I was also very nervous at the same time. That was August 20. I had been in the hospital for 22 days, endured 18 hours of surgery, 2 chest tubes, been under general anesthesia 7 times, been pumped full of lots and lots of drugs and there were so many needles. I was so ready to go home and begin the next phase of my recovery.

 

Being in the hospital and having major surgery was quite an experience. I learned a lot about myself, my family, my friends and people in general. This is the part of the letter where my Christmas message really begins. I have learned a lot about people and the kindness that most have in their hearts. Family and friends near and far were praying for me. People from around the world that I didn’t know were praying for me. WOW. While I was in the hospital and at home recovering I received so many cards and gifts from people, many that I didn’t even know. A boy named Jake that I didn’t know sent me baseball cards from his own collection, just to cheer me up. How cool is that? People who followed my story on Carepages sent me hundreds of inspirational messages. Some people read that I love reading and writing so they sent me books. Others sent me candy, games, toys, brain food and so much more. It was acts of kindness like those that helped me get through the very tough times in the hospital. It really makes a difference to a kid when they know that people really care about them, even people that they don’t know. I will never forget the kindness that people showed toward me.


I wish that I was able to personally thank everyone for the support they gave me and my parents while I was in the hospital. Since that isn’t really possible, I would like to make that my Christmas message. First, thank you to my family members. They were really there for me and my parents. They did so many special things for me that I will never forget and I was glad to have them there. Next, to the people at Acxiom; thank you that my Dad was able to be with me so much. I couldn’t imagine going through this without him there. Also, thank you for all of the prayers, gifts and cards. I was truly amazed that so many people that didn’t even know me cared about me so much. Thank you to the staff of doctors, nurses and volunteers at Lutheran General Hospital especially my Dad’s Cousin Melodie. Her support really made a difference. Words cannot express how thankful I am to Dr. Ruge, Dr. Mardjetko, Dr. Joob and the Anesthesiologists for all that they did for me. They literally held my future in their hands. They are all great doctors and great people. Dr. Ruge has been with me since before I was born and he has profoundly impacted my life over and over again. Thanks to our friends at home for taking care of our pets. There is also a special person in heaven to thank, because I am sure that he was watching over me and I miss him so much. Thank you again to everyone for everything that you did for me and my parents. There were so many people who showed kindness. It doesn’t really matter if it was big or small because it all made a difference.


Finally, I would like to thank God. God delivered me to where I am today. He made all of the miracles that I have experienced in my life possible, and there have been many. My parents tell me that someday I will understand the magnitude of the miracles that God has worked in my life. My spine is now straight and my lung function is improving. My spinal cord and nerves were not impacted during surgery. Neurologically I am as good as I was before surgery. My parents also tell me that someday I will understand the significance of that too. For the first time since I was 16 months old, I am brace free. Throughout my entire life I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to not have to wear a brace. And guess what? It’s great! The biggest challenge I am facing now is trying not to do too much. I feel great and I’m raring to go. I started 6th grade on November 2nd after missing the entire first quarter of school. I am really enjoying junior high. I joined choir and just competed in the Science Olympiad. My new classmates really get a kick out of seeing my scars. I don’t mind showing them off either…kind of makes me feel special. Well, now it’s Christmas time. 4 months post-op. We talked about Christmas a lot while I was in the hospital, knowing that I would be feeling much better by then and it is finally here! What a perfect time to share my Christmas Message and to thank everyone for their kindness and generosity.