Greetings, Sapients! I bring to you news of medical import. The short version: While in the Army I fell from a vehicle and messed up my back. Lots of things happened, then I was medically discharged from the Army in July of 2003. This has ruined my body, it has ruined my career, it has ruined my life. At first, I could barely hold a job. I drank, hard, for ten years. I went through a lot of therapy, body and mind. Now, my daily life is a step and a half (pun not intended) above being an invalid. I don't mind talking about it, but I don't go out of my way to talk about it because nobody wants to feel helpless about this stranger on the internet.
Luckily, my back has degenerated enough to the point where major surgery could help. It'll be totlally metal. Medical grade titanium, even, threaded up the sides of my spine and screwed into my vertebrae. This will act as a brace to flex my back into the right shape and posture, from the inside.
This is at least six months away, which is fine. The doctor understandably wants me to do some "pre-habbing", lose more weight, do core work like a boss, and generally get this body into some kind of shape where it's a worthwhile cost-positive to jam rods into someone's vertebrae and hope it helps.
This, from a totally awesome orthopedic surgeon at the Hines Veteran Hospital, Chicago, Illinois, Dr. Lauren Matteini. Here's the annotated version.
Her theory is that the extent my issues have gone to symptoms-wise was only triggered by my fall back in the Army fifteen years ago, because it happened to combine with the way my spine has been growing from birth, a condition called Scheuermann's disease, or Scheuermann's kyphosis (Greek for humping). Basically normal vertebrae are stacked like Jenga blocks, but mine are stacked like orange wedges. In severe cases the person grows up with a severe hump instead of a supportive curve. But because my humpy back was flexing to compensate for an injury, my lumbar spine has curved forward reactively over time to compensate for my thoracic spine, giving me what Dr. Matteini calls a bubble butt. Add a little extra spinal degeneration from the extra work my back has to do to function, and you've got a shit sandwich. So yes, I'm a degenerate humpback, but with a bubble butt.
This Scheuermann's disease thing isn't a major change from a normal spine, but it may explain a thing or two about minor problems I had as a kid, and I would have grown up mostly normally spine-wise, just a bit more wedgey. Except for this narrowing my vertebrae had, I probably would have healed through most or all of my fall injuries, enough for a desk job, but they teamed up together (plus a couple other theories I have about my health record) and messed everything up. Boo hoo.
But anyway, titanium rods, totally metal, bitchin' technology!
So I hope that explains all of that.