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Michelle's Story

Hi! My name is Michelle. At the time of this writing, I am 12 years of age and in sixth grade. I love to listen to music, draw, paint, read books, play the violin, make friends, watch my favorite TV shows, and play with my cat named Elvis. I hope that sharing my experience with scoliosis and my spinal fusion surgery will help you to understand what to expect if you or someone you know has this condition.

Finding Out I Had Scoliosis

Leading up to finding out about my scoliosis, there were two outward signs that prompted my parents to take a closer look at my back without my shirt on. The first sign was when my dad was watching me bend over at the waist to pick up something, he noticed that my back wasn't level from side-to-side; however, he just thought that I was using poor posture and lifting techniques.

The very next day, my dad was walking behind me as we returned home from church. He noticed that my right shoulder blade (scapula) was very noticeable under my shirt, however, my left shoulder blade (scapula) wasn't very noticeable. My dad asked to feel my back, and it was then that he knew something was wrong with my back. After we went into our home, my dad asked to look at my back. When he looked at my back, he called my mom into the room to take a look, too. It was then that they told me that my back (spine) had a major curve that wasn't normal. That same day, my parents and I began to do research on the spine and scoliosis to learn about what might be expected with my situation.

The very next morning, my mother set up an appointment to immediately see my pediatrician. When my pediatrician saw my back, she said, "Wow! This is the worst case of scoliosis I've seen." She told me I needed to have my back x-rayed, so they could take a look at the backbone (vertebrae). She also said I needed to see a specialist — an orthopedic surgeon. My mother asked my pediatrician who she thought was the best doctor to see — after some thought, the pediatrician suggested an orthopedic surgeon at a the children's hospital near where I live. It was then that my mother agreed, and my pediatrician set up an appointment to see this surgeon.

The appointment with the doctor who became my surgeon was scheduled a couple of weeks after seeing my pediatrician, so my parents and I continued to do research on Scoliosis by checking out books at our local library and on the Internet. When we did visit the surgeon, we took with us the x-rays my pediatrician had made of my back. My surgeon took a pencil and ruler and began making marks on the x-rays I brought, and making measurements of the curvature of my back (spine). He then began to examine my back by looking at my back while I was standing and by having me bend over at the waist. He spent a lot of time with my mom, dad and me to explain my condition and the curvature on my spine, and he indicated that my curvature was serious enough to require surgery.

How I Felt

When my surgeon said that I needed surgery to correct my curved spine (scoliosis), I felt a little scared about having surgery; however, I tried to look at the positive sides of having my curved spine straightened. I tried to keep a positive attitude about what I was going to have to go through and how much better off I would be later on in life. I'm glad that I found out at this time of my life about my scoliosis, rather than later when I would be older and have much more going on.

In an effort to keep track of my research on scoliosis and what I was going through, I made a folder that I titled "Michelle's Scoliosis Research Book." I found this to be very helpful. I placed in my "Scoliosis Book" research papers, important questions that my parents and I wanted to ask my surgeon and the E-mail letters I received. Additionally, my parents took a few pictures of me prior to surgery and others while I was in and out of the hospital after surgery, which I added to my book, too. Putting this book together was a fun project and was great for keeping everything together to stay organized.

Continue reading Michelle's story: My Curvature

After reading this please keep in mind that all treatment and outcome results are specific to the individual patient. Results may vary. Complications, such as infection, blood loss, or nerve damage are some of the potential adverse risks of spinal surgery. Please consult your physician for a complete list of indications, warnings, precautions, adverse events, clinical results, and other important medical information.

  • Published: April 08, 2002
  • Updated: March 30, 2009