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Emily—San Diego, CA

"I love my Scoliosis!" I bet you don't hear that everyday. Well I do. Having Scoliosis is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I know right now you are probably thinking, "who is this kid?" and "how can she possibly like having Scoliosis?" So let me introduce myself.

My name is Emily and I am 16 years old and had surgery at the age of 13. Scoliosis is not uncommon in my family. In fact my younger sister, Audrey, who is 18 months younger than me, also has Scoliosis. Her story was not as dramatic as mine. She knew about hers since she was six years old. Mine, on the other hand, couldn't of come at a worse time.

The News

June 24th, the day I had been waiting for. It was the day I was finally able to graduate the Junior High. I only had two things planned for that day. One to graduate, and two, to go to Children's Hospital San Diego for a doctors appointment for my back. I never thought that I would have Scoliosis. The thought never even crossed my mind. I thought that they would tell me to go to the Chiropractor since I was experiencing pain around my shoulder blade. When I arrived, the doctors took x-rays and had me bend down and touch my toes. After that I waited in a room for a while. When the doctors came in, the look on their faces didn't look like they were bringing good news. They told my mom and I that I had a 43-degree thoracic curve and I needed surgery as soon as possible. The news hit me hard. I remember going home and thinking how can this happen to me? What did I do to deserve this?

The next day my mom decided to take my sister in to be re-x-rayed because she had not been to the doctor in over 6 months or wearing her Boston Brace. After x-rays it was revealed that my sister's Scoliosis had progressed to a 43-degree thoracic curve also. She too would need surgery as soon as possible. My sister and I tried our hardest to get our mom to postpone the surgery. But with no luck she scheduled the surgery dates the next week. I was to go in August 18, 1999, and Audrey August 19, 1999.

Pre-Surgery

Since we only had a little over a month until the surgery, it seemed like we were at the hospital everyday. Between giving blood and running tests, my family received a very important phone call. One that would not only make an impact on our surgery but on our lives as well. My Doctor had reviewed mine and my sister's case. He said that we were perfect candidates to have a new Thoracoscopic surgery. Instead of cutting all the way down the back, he was going to make 6 tiny incisions (about 1.5 cm big) and go in through the side. If this surgery were to be done, my sister and I would have a quicker and less painful recovery. With that in mind, we jumped at the chance to have this new type of surgery. Now it was only a matter of time until the big day.

Surgery Day

Surgery day I woke up at 5:00 in the morning to be to the hospital at 6:00. When I got there, they weighed me and took my blood pressure. Then my family and I went into a small waiting room to wait for the doctor. When my Doctor arrived, he reviewed what the plan was. After that a very nice nurse walked me into the operating room. I was surprised that they didn't wheel me in. She said that since I was so calm I could walk in. I hopped onto the operating table and the next thing I knew I was lying in the Recovery Room. Audrey's surgery went excellent as well. The hospital managed to get a big room for Audrey and I to share. I found it much easier to go through since I had my sister right by my side. Whatever pain I felt, she felt and it became easy to sympathize with her. We had fun bugging the nurses and doctors from time to time and joked that we should get a two for one discount!

Results

I can't believe how much Scoliosis has changed my life. It let me meet wonderful people that I will never forget. From nurses and other kids going through the same experience my sister and I went through, the Scoliosis has done so many things for me that I will never forget. From this I have started Volunteer work at Children's Hospital and set my goals on becoming a Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon. It helped me develop a closer relationship with my sister. We have learned that we can depend on each other when we need it the most and have become best friends along the way. I thank my Doctor for giving Audrey and I the chance to have this wonderful surgery. He is not only a good doctor but also a good friend. Because of this new surgery and the positive experience I had, I am truly proud to say, "I love my Scoliosis!"

Risks

In addition to the possible benefits of spine surgery for the treatment of scoliosis, there also are potential risks. These include tissue or nerve damage caused by the improper positioning and placement of implants or instruments; the disassembly, bending, and/or breakage of any or all of the components; nonunion (or pseudarthrosis), delayed union, or mal-union; and postoperative changes in spinal curvature, loss or correction, height, and/or reduction. Pressure on the skin in patients with inadequate tissue coverage over the implant could result in skin penetration, irritation, internal scaring, tissue death, and/or pain.

IRN 11603-1.0-04

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: September 04, 2002
  • Updated: June 11, 2010