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Author Topic: Collegeboy - External Tibias - Dr. Salameh - 2010 - Journey to 8 cm in Syria  (Read 61548 times)
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collegeboy
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« on: February 12, 2010, 10:31:37 PM »

Well, I decided to start a journal here for the benefit of the community.  There aren't really any Syrian journals, aside from Sakis, so I hope this helps some people with making a decision one way or the other.

I'm 22 years old from the US and saved the money myself for the operation.  I'm 5'6" and looking to lengthen 8 cm.  I had originally planned on going to China but changed plans once I started talking at length to Dr.  Salameh via emails; the price difference was also quite nice.  It turns out Syria isn't a terrorist filled country in the middle east.  People here are actually nicer than they are in the US on average.  Many people, especially the younger ones, tend to speak English.  People with Israeli visas or passports aren't allowed to enter the country.  This might help explain the peace out here.  Religious fanatics are sufficiently kept out of the country.

Anyways, after doing my reserach I flew out on the 22nd and landed in Syria on the 23rd at night after 3 connecting flights.  The ticket only cost around $600 surprisingly.  You DO need a Visa and need to have purchased a return ticket if you're flying into Syria from the US.  I sent an email to the doctor saying when I was landing and he actually turned up to meet me at the airport despite landing at 11pm local time.  We talked for a bit and he took me to stay at the apartment of two other LL patients of his in Damascus.  I was given the option of living with them, living on my own in Damascus, or he would find me a place in Tartous to stay at by myself.  After getting to know the two LL patients I ended up staying with them for a week before my operation was actually performed.  During this time I purchased a walker, a pee pot and other fun stuff for cripples.

My operation was on the 31 of January.  The day before I took x-rays and met with the doctor at his office for measurements and final discussions.  The doctor again came to the apartment to pick me up and drive me to the hospital for my operation.  It is a decent sized hospital across the street from a sports stadium.  I was checked in and taken to a shared room for 30 minutes until they could clear me a private room on the fourth floor with a view overlooking the sports stadium.  One of the male nurses gave me a hug and kissed me on the shoulders.  It was sort of awkward but I went with it.  This same nurse would later take my clothes and help put my hospital gown on.  Afer a few more minutes another male nurse came in to shave my legs.  It's quite the experience having your legs shaven by a large Syrian man.  I was then layed out on the bed and wheeled into the operating room.  When I awoke my legs were broken and I was being wheeled back to my hospital room.

I'm going to detail my hospital stay in the next post.  For now it's late and I'm going to get some rest before lengthening again.  I can now say that I'm one of the crazy people that actually went through with leg lengthening  Cool
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TibAndFemur
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« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2010, 11:02:07 PM »

Another diary from Syria.   Awesome.  :)
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« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2010, 11:30:21 PM »

Welcome and good luck!

Cheers,

MMT
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zeeron
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« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2010, 02:33:00 AM »

hmm. .   this is  Plan B  for me  . . .   ::) ::)
cuz im arabian guy and Syria will be close to my country and speak arabic too  :) 

Good Luck meet  Grin
w8ting for more info :)
thx
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collegeboy
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« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2010, 07:25:27 AM »

Alright, now to continue from the hospital.  The operation was around 11 AM from what I could figure.  After the operation you're pretty dazed, or at least I was.  Going back to my room on the fourth floor involved staring at the ceiling, which looks sorta like corrugated metal sheeting, and moaning.  When I got back to the room I was hooked up to an IV and given a mild pain killer.  Dr.  Salameh was there and told me that if I needed a stronger painkiller I would just have to ask.  While laying on the bed I was shivering really badly as my teeth were chattering.  It was not cold.  Luckily the feeling passed and I returned to normal soon after.  At this point though I started getting shooting pains in my right leg and so I was given morphine without having to ask, some moans of pain got this done.  The morphine was truly amazing.  All my pain went away and I was just relaxed and at ease.  It was easy after the morphine to take a nap.

After waking up I took my first look at the broken legs.  I had my metal frames on, 3 half circles with bars running down connecting them, and every pin site was wrapped with bandages.  The doctor came in and told me he was worried my feet were too "tight" and I would have to wear bands and practice.  The bands are like elastic wraps that go around the ends of my feet and connect to the metal frame, effectively trying to straighten out my feet.  I guess somehow I already had a case of balerina foot as it's called here.  Dr.  Salameh showed me some exercises I should do while in bed and told me if I needed to stand I could.  I have a picture of my legs I'll try to get in the journal as soon as possible.


The first night I did some basic stretching and watched one of the few english channels that I had at the hospital, mostly MBC2, they just show American movies all day.  There was an ache in my legs but not real pain.  The only pain I really felt was from my feet due to the bands.  They were leaving purple bruises so I slid them off so I could get some sleep that night.  During the day a nurse would come into my room almost every 45 minutes to either take blood pressure and temperature or to give me some more IV fluids.  Around 6 PM a nurse came in and left a trey of food on a rolling trey across the room.  Having broken legs this was like a mean joke.  You cannot eat prior to the operation so I was hungry.  After an hour or so the nurse returned and took all the food away.  While I was preparing to go to sleep the other main hospital doctor came in to see me.  His name was Dr.  Ahmed and he also spoke decent english.  He asked if I had eaten and when I told him my food got taken away he asked me if I would like a cheeseburger.  I was surprised they had such things out here but quickly agreed.  Half an hour later he returned with my burger, a large bottle of water, and some tea.  The burger was unlike any American burger but was still really good.  The doctor even sat on the free bed next to mine and ate with me and watched a little tv.  After he left I stood for the first time to use my pee pot.  Standing on broken legs is extremely strange but the doctor had told me it was fine.  There was some slight pain from the bottom pins of the legs but otherwise it went fine and I hopped back into bed to go to sleep.

The next day a nurse came to change the bandages on my legs.  This was one of the more painful parts of the hospital stay.  Several pin sites started bleeding again.  Before the new bandages were wrapped he poured what seemed to be half a bottle of iodine on my legs and it ran down all over the sheets below my legs.  Later on the nurse brought breakfast and gave me treys for two people's food.  At first I thought this was a result of Dr.  Ahmed talking to them but it's apparently included in the price since you're paying for a two person room for yourself.  Breakfast always included a hard boiled egg and every meal included some flat bread.  A little later two nurses came to clean the floor and to change my sheets.  Doctor Salameh would later come to check on me and have me walk.  Using my walker I made slow but sure steps.  Again the only pain I felt was the bottom pins of the leg as my foot flexed up and down.  I was actually quite impressed with my mobility.  Before he left the doctor sent a nurse to get me a bunch of water bottles and juices and actually stocked my fridge which was quite nice.

The second night when I got my IV I started to notice it really stung when I was given meds.  I didn't realize then but my vein must have collapsed.  Due to this I'm not sure how much of the painkiller got my system that night, but there did seem to be more pain.  I had trouble sleeping but did manage to make it to the bathroom.  Sitting down and then getting back up though proved fairly difficult.  I finally got to sleep around 4 AM, thankfully there were good movies on to keep me company.  I was woken the next morning around 6 AM by a nurse.

On the third day every antibiotic and painkiller I got through my IV hurt like a mofo and caused me to grimace and grit my teeth.  Again I spent most of this day stretching and watching tv as well as getting some nice visits from Dr.  Ahmed who would have tea with me.  We saw some dubbed chinese action flick where a ninja did a backflip over another guy.  I told Dr.  Ahmed I wanted to be able to do that, he just laughed and said "me too. " Oh well, someday I'll be able to run and jump again.  The boredom was the worst part but eventually this day passed.  When I got my bandages changed the guy was much more gentle and it didn't really hurt.  Afterwards I went to the bathroom cleaned myself as best I could with hand soap and changed my boxers.  A cleaner would later come in and collect my boxers with the trash to throw away.  To be fair they were all yellowed from the iodine running up my leg.  I'm just not sure if he realized it was iodine or if he threw them out because he thought I crapped my pants while laying in bed.  It wasn't until night when they realized I was in pain during each IV treatment that they decided to switch vains.  It changed from my left arm to my right and I got a fresh IV and injections.  It was completely painless now and actually quite pleasant.  After this getting to sleep wasn't hard.

That's it for now.  In the next post I'll go over my return from the hospital and living arrangements here.  Hope I'm being detailed enough!
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skidude
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« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2010, 09:08:48 AM »

There is so much detail in there I feel like I'm your roommate!  Keep it up and I hope things continue to improve for you!
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« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2010, 12:23:29 AM »

Great post Collegeboy! Excellent detail about your surroundings, food, your doctors and experiences thus far. Keep up the good work and stay strong and focused. I hope the rest of your LL journey goes smooth.

cheers,

Midget
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« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2010, 01:07:09 AM »

Wow! You're going through the wars, but thanks for sharing your experiences - great diary so far Smiley
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sakis
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« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2010, 11:59:06 AM »

good luck with your journy, and please dont do more than 7 cm !!!!! this is my gold advice for you and for every one !
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collegeboy
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« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2010, 09:26:11 AM »

Sakis, why not more than 7? The doctor told me to go to 8 because of compression. Keep in mind I'm a very healthy 22 year old.

Sorry about the delay in writing but with the recent acquisition of internet I've been streaming movies and catching up on my email. I left off at the hospital but for anyone wondering I just completed my first full week of lengthening yesterday. I should catch up pretty soon though!

My final day at the hospital I got my hard boiled egg and used some cheese and jam on the flat bread to good effect. Overall the hospital food was pretty decent. They serve this white cream stuff with every meal but it tastes pretty nasty to me so I avoided it. Around ten, Doctor Ahmed came in asking how I would get home and I told him I would just take a taxi. One of the nurses that spoke some english said she'd arrange a driver for me and that he was a well known guy and spoke decent english. They gave me my final painkiller through IV before I would be leaving. My legs were swollen and it would have been too much trouble to get my pants on so I wore my hospital gown over a t-shirt and some flip flops every hospital patient gets. They took a trash bag to gather up all my stuff for leaving the hospital and brought up a wheelchair to take me down to the street. The nurse that spoke english gave me her phone number. She told me to call her if I needed anything or just to call her in a week or so to let her know how I'm doing. Though almost none of the nurses spoke more than a few words of english they were all very nice. I got by just fine using charades and hand gestures to get what I wanted. Before leaving I also got a bundle of drugs and Dr. Ahmed went over when to take each one. I got two boxes of Ogmentinine, antibiotics, to take twice daily at 8 AM and PM. Next was a box of Proxymol, painkillers, to take 3 times daily at 8, 4, and midnight. I also got a box of Perco, a stronger painkiller, to take in case I had any extra pain the proxymol didn't take care of.

The driver was waiting at the street and helped me into the car. The only way I knew how to get back to the apartment was by using the business card from the convenience store across the street. My driver indeed spoke some decent english and talked to me the whole ride back. He's a tour guide and archaeologist and gave me his business card in case I needed anything or wanted him to show me around Damascus. It is after all one of the oldest cities in the world and there's quite a bit of history here. He parked across the street and I was able to very slowly get across the street and up the stairs on my own to get into the apartment. I got back right when the land lady was cleaning and she let me in. The only bad thing about the whole experience was getting up the steps. I folded up the walker and used it sort of like a cane with one hand on the side of the steps to walk up. Of course while walking up the back of my hospital gown was wide open and the wind was blowing. A Syrian girl was walking by as I was going up the stairs so I gave her a great view of my backside with just my boxers on. I turned back to look and saw her still looking back at me as she was walking by. It was kind of embarrassing but oh well.

I shared the apartment with two guys who spoke perfect english despite European backgrounds. One was in his forties and very protective of his identity. He was open with me but felt if I even mentioned his nationality everyone would know it was him. So to protect his paranoia i'm gonna refrain from describing him anymore than that  Wink I also know he's gonna read this and yell at me. My other room mate is just into his 30's and looks around my age. I'm basically the baby of the group but they both agreed I act mature and seem pretty intelligent. The younger guy is originally from Czech Republic but lived in the US for many years. He is going to write a journal here as well but is waiting until after he returns home in March. I would have to say we all get along really well despite the difference in ages. During my first week the Czech guy told me if I need anything, or need to walk around at late hours, or just yell from pain not to worry because we were all in this together. I believe it was through these guys I started to think that the people who go through LL have pretty remarkable qualities. Both of the guys I was living with were quite intelligent, well educated, and successful in life.

Now, back to our apartment. There's a shower room, a living room, bathroom, kitchen, two bedrooms, and a balcony overlooking two gardens. In the living room we have about a 24-27 inch television with cable TV. We have around ten to fifteen channels in english including CNN and Fox movies. There's a washing machine on the covered balcony that the landlord's wife uses to clean our clothes. She then hangs them up to dry out there as well. The landlord and his wife come twice a week, on Wednesday and Sunday, to take care of everything. The wife brings freshly prepared meals for us to eat and keep in the fridge for in between visits. We also usually get a bunch of fruit and and milk from them. The price for all our food and groceries is generally around 1000 to 1800 Syrian pounds depending on what we get. It's important to note that 1000 Syrian pounds is roughly 20 dollars in the US. We just alternated who paid each visit. The monthly rent is 31000 Syrian pounds, or around $620, split between us.

The older guy had both a wheelchair and a walker and mostly sat in his wheelchair to watch TV. The Czech guy and I both just got a walker to get around and did fine. The Czech guy got his operation early in January, while the older guy was about two months into his lengthening. At the two week mark the Czech guy was able to walk without his walker and a few days after was able to sort of speed walk like a penguin. Believe me when I say the sight of him waddling towards you like an angry midget is petty damn funny. The older guy seemed to have a much harder time walking and went up stairs on his ass. He walked with his body bent like an arrow. His hands and legs would point forward, hunched over, while his bony ass would just point out backwards. He blamed this on him being heavier than the Czech guy and myself. He was also the tallest at 5'9" but I don't know what role that would play. The Czech guy and myself are about the same height, 5'6" or so, and move around very well. As far as pain though the older guy tended not to have any real pain while the Czech guy had more. The Czech guy also walked laps up and down the hallway though and was a lot more active.

Unfortunately the older gentleman left just two days after I got out of the hospital to return home. For the past week and a half its been just Czech guy and myself. I'll get into the aches & pains as well as lengthening in my next post. I should also have some pictures up.

By the way, I just downloaded Skype so if anyone wants to message me or even video chat just send me a message on here with your name so I can add you. We also helped the Doctor download Skype and are teaching him how to use it; so it should prove very useful. I could also use another room mate, two would be nice. So if anyone is coming to Syria ask the doctor to take you to see me. Someone from the US is supposed to be coming and I've also talked to a girl on the phone a couple times that may come out but I don't know anything until someone actually arrives. Goodluck fellow LL'ers!
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midget
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« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2010, 12:53:56 PM »

Excellent deatiled post Collegeboy, can't wait to read more. Goodluck with your future attack on being taller.

Midget
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TibAndFemur
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« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2010, 03:23:25 PM »

Great details collegeboy.  Keep it up.  Smiley

Saki is right.  I think over 7 cm will not look good.  Your body may look disproportionate.  Also if doctor told you to do 8 cm for compression that means after you are done you may be around 7.7 cm.  Compression will help you to reduce your consolidation time quite a bit.  Compression will also help your Achilles Tendon b/c of the initial stretch and then release (due to compression.)

Could you post some pictures of the apt when you get a chance?
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« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2010, 03:33:25 PM »

Hi Collegeboy and TibAndFemur,

By Compression do you mean turning back the screw of the fixator after lengthening? -OR- the compression caused by pressure on the bone?

I dont follow the term Compression quite well here. But nevertheless, this is a really nice diary. Cheers for that Smiley
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sakis
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« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2010, 03:35:10 PM »

@collegeboy
did the doctor told you that there will be a compression ?  
after you will pass the 4 cm mark , you will understand why not to do more than 7 cm...

@tibandfemur

no, not becuase of the propotion. mainly because of the problems you get deu to the lenghtening in your muscles.
1 cm more could slow your recovery to more 6 months !
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TibAndFemur
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« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2010, 09:07:32 AM »


@Aid:  Yes, turning back the screws the other way.  So, instead of growing you will be shrinking a few mm.  It's usually done under close supervision of your doctor at the end of your lengthening phase and right before the consolidation phase.  Your doctor will take x-ray and determine how much should be compressed etc.  Hope this helps.

@sakis:  Yes, that too.  Tight calf muscles, weak dorsiflexors and not to mention ballerina foot caused by the achilles tendon.  Unfortunately for me those were the problems starting right around 5 cm!  I had to give up lengthening at 5.8 cm b/c of those problems.  I also think these problems can vary from individuals to individuals.
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collegeboy
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« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2010, 11:00:49 AM »

Picure time! Keep in mind, after the operation your legs are pretty swollen for about a week or so. This was taken my first day out of the hospital. The bandage guy went a little overboard, stuffing them everywhere just for the hell of it. That huge patch on my left leg is just to cover a small stitch that I keep unwrapped anyway. The one directly above it just fell out after walking a few steps. I gave a close up of a pin site for anyone curious. There's a scab forming but that's good; it means I don't have to change bandages so often because there's nothing coming out of the pin site. My legs still had splotches of iodine everywhere as well. Overall, I would say looking at my legs isn't too pleasant. Thankfully, I keep them covered at all times up until I change the bandages. It's not pretty, but the height is definitely worth it to me. I got used to the metal frames pretty quick and they don't really bother me. I'll put more details into the next post but for now take care  Cool



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« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2010, 11:35:28 AM »

Very nice and detailed posts and thank you for posting the pictures, i know what you mean its a hard 8 or 10 months but its totally worth it in the end Smiley
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« Reply #17 on: February 20, 2010, 05:20:02 PM »

Now, time to get into the pains and aches. I have to admit I felt fantastic the first few days after the coming back to the apartment. I was moving around great and with the proxymol I was taking there wasn't really any pain. During walking was the only time there was slight pain. The pain I felt wasn't sharp but more like a burning tingling in the bottom most outer pins. These pins are small but they're so close to the foot that there's a decent amount of movement while walking. After the first few days this pain felt less and less as I both adjusted and learned to walk more "straight-footed."

After the first few days I started to succumb to the side effects of my pills more than to the actual pain. The doctor gave me a variety of pain killers to try and throughout the days I would mix and sample, making sure not to OD on pain killers of course. One of the pills gave me bad headaches that were actually worse than the leg pain they were treating. I isolated it and stopped usage. Next I started getting bad stomache cramps and isolated it to some muscle relaxants the doctor gave me and stopped using those as well. I traded them to my room mate and he takes them without incidence. My favorite, side-effect free, pills are the codeine and perco. Codeine isn't the strongest pain killer but it leaves me free of any side effects and handled most of my pain during the first week and a half. Most of the day, especially the mornings, were typically pain free. I was able to move around, shave, go to the bathroom and do whatever I pleased without too much discomfort. The pain I felt was more of a constant minor ache than anything shooting. Occasionally though, and typically at night, I would start to get some sharp shooting pains from my bottom right foot and around the bottom arc of the fixators. The pain would come in random waves, sometimes unexpectedly. This pain could last anywhere from 30 seconds to 30 minutes. Usually the pain was very brief but sometimes it would persist. This is when Perco would come into use.


As best as I can describe Perco's effect, I would say it feels like Christmas. There's a warming sensation that travels through your body from head to toe. It's almost like scooting closer to a fireplace and letting the warmth envelop your whole body. One the warmth hits you the pain just melts away and you feel relaxed and warm. Combined with some sleeping pills the doctor gave me, Dormicum, I get some decent sleep. I would later learn that Perco is some pretty strong stuff. In other countries Perco is hard to attain and strictly limited by doctors. I only take one a day, at most, so I'm not too worried about dependency. The Czech guy takes around 3 a day and the leaflet says he could take more if he needed to. The only bad side effect from perco is it sometimes causes sweating for me, but it's nothing serious.

The other pain was strictly related to stretching I was doing to straight out my feet. The Doctor reccomends sleeping on your back feet straight pointing towards the cieling like a coffin. Personally, staying in this position for long periods of time caused a lot of pain on the back of my legs at the calf muscles. It's similar to a pulled muscle pain. The remedy was usually just to relax my legs and massage the calf a bit. The elastic bands also caused some discomfort but this isn't a a part of the LL experience if you don't have, nor develop, balerina foot. I've personally actually gone two days without pain killers, though not back to back. Overall I would say the pain is very manageable but this is a personal thing. I have no idea how some people might take the pain or how sensitive their nerves may be. Right now, writing this, I've gone all day without pain killers and feel perfectly fine. Czech guy usually has more pain than me but he also went today only taking an anti-inflammatory so things are going pretty well. I'm in good spirits but I'm definitely counting down the days till I can take these fixators off and walk freely. You never really know how much you miss strong legs until you're enfeebled   Undecided
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« Reply #18 on: February 20, 2010, 06:59:12 PM »

Hey, Collegeboy.

Sorry to hear that you're experiencing pain - it's one of the downside of LL - the possibility of pain.

I'm glad that your doctor is happy to give you painkillers, but I'd like to express a note of caution:

1. Many painkillers are addiction forming, and shouldn't be taken on a long-term basis - pain-killer addiction is common and dangerous problem that you should avoid at all costs.

2. Whilst it may feel like Christmas, painkillers severely retard your mental faculties and if you use them an extended period (more than a month) then your mental performance will be severely-impaired. If you did an IQ-test right now in your happiest moments, you'd be 20% off your pre-LL IQ - that's before the chronic lack of sleep and lack of exercise starts to affect you.

(Now you know why I believe it is unrealistic for people to work while doing LL!)

3. Painkillers have a really negative effect on your general health and immune system - they screw-up many of your internal systems and feedback mechanisms severely impacting things like your digestion. The last thing that people need when doing LL is a sub-optimal immune system - especially when you have external frames and many pin-sites.

Of course, the painkillers can help, but please don't take them regularly, or over a long period of time - the downside is real and profound.

I hope that the pain subsides soon!

Cheers,

MMT
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« Reply #19 on: February 20, 2010, 07:31:20 PM »

Hi Collegeboy,

Great detailed diary.

You say you would like another lengthener with you.  Well thats most likely me.  I'll be coming over the first week in March.  I'll have my operation then stay in the hospital for 3 days, then move to an appartment.

Do you have any suggestions as to what to bring with me that you realise you should have brought with you?

Plus is there anything I can bring over for you that you or your flatmete need?

I was thinking about bringing protien powder with me.  I was wondering can you buy protien powder locally or have someone buy it for me?

I will be bringing my PC with about 300 films to watch.  This should help alleviate the boredom factor.

I see the doctor says you can realise 8cm.  That sounds brilliant.  I myself want to achieve a minimum of 6.5cm up to a possible 8 cm.  However I will be listening to what my body tells me and stop when it says so.  Your body is an amazing machine and if you listen and respect its limits you will do fine.

Best wishes Plus3

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Completed lengthening in Tartous, Syria with Dr Salameh.

@10mm 26 October
@20mm 11 November
@30mm 24 November
@40mm 03 Dec (Top Cut @34.0mm - Bot @6.0mm)
@50mm 12 Dec (Top Cut @37.5mm - Bot @12.5mm)
@70mm 01 Jan (Top Cut @45.7mm - Bot @24.3mm)
@76.2mm 09 Jan (Top Cut @48.7mm - Bot @27.5mm)
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Make Me Taller! The world's number one elective leg lengthening site! Come here for information about LL, things to make you taller, how to get taller permanently, Ilizarov, Betzbone, Guichet Nail, PRECICE, height growth and other height related issues. This is the number one leg lengthening forum for height seekers and people trying to become taller. It was created and run by people who have actually done leg lengthening surgery (LL).

As a community site, MMT forum thrives on people's contributions, so please feel free to share your make me taller questions, videos, photos and experiences here in this leg lengthening forum. Make me taller is open to all, but please read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) before posting as this will answer nearly all of your questions about getting taller through surgery. Please read our leg lengthening diaries too! We hope that you find this forum useful. Cheers, SysOp.

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