January 10, 2012
Nobody is perfect; every person has something that is wrong or a trial they need to overcome. When I was twelve years old, I was diagnosed with a condition called scoliosis. Although it started as a mild case, I never thought it would affect my life as much as it has. Ultimately, my case changed to the severe category and this past April, I had to undergo the great and terrible spinal fusion operation. I was petrified to have this major surgery at such a young age but the results have already been so beneficial.
Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine. The doctors first saw my curve when it was a measly 18 degrees. Unfortunately, as I grew quickly, the curvature worsened. In the beginning of last summer I started experiencing pain in my right shoulder blade and my mom noticed it was protruding. I went to the doctor’s office and they gave me the name of a doctor who specializes in scoliosis. After talking with him and posing for a series of X-rays, they found my curvature had worsened to 34 degrees and would require that I wear a brace. They measured and fit me into a thick sheet of plastic with big foam pads on the inside and thick Velcro straps on the outside to make it just as tight and uncomfortable as humanly possible. The point of a brace was to prevent the curve from getting worse. This is done by holding my back in the correct posture and teaching my muscles to conform to the shape of the brace. Not that I’m bitter or anything, but this cost a fortune for a stupid piece of plastic that didn’t even work. I spent my whole sophomore summer in a hot, ugly brace, which caused so much humiliation. My new unwanted addition to my wardrobe required frequent visits to the doctor’s office to see if the brace was really preventing the curve from worsening, which it was at first, but then in three short months, my curve had grown to a whopping 46 degrees. Not only that but my spine was actually twisting at the same time it was curving. This was not only causing a large hump to appear above my shoulder blade, but it was squishing my ribs on my right side and causing a lot of pain and fear that it would eventually crowd my lungs to the point of affecting my breathing. In addition, my hips were growing unevenly which was affecting my walk and run. I was experiencing difficulties in my athletics because my back wouldn’t let me bend the way I needed to in playing volleyball or in competitive swimming. I was even having a hard time sitting in my desks at school because the chair would rub right below my shoulder blade. With my back twisting and curving at such an aggressive rate, it required surgery and I was not ready for that. When I heard this news, I was devastated. The surgery included screwing a long metal rod into both sides of my vertebrae in the affected area and packing bone fragments into the spine. As the fragments grow, these rods will eventually fuse to the bone leaving me with a straight and very strong spine, even hips, matching rib cages and lots of space for my lungs to breathe freely. Unfortunately, however, this would also restrict my movement and ability to bend in the upper region of my back. Sometimes you have to give and take. The operation would force me to be in the hospital for a horrific seven-day stay in the hospital and no physical activity (bending, lifting, or twisting) for six whole months. All I could do to prepare for the surgery was cry and pray.
I felt as if no one understood what I was going through let alone what was about to happen. Many people tried to comfort me but could not have true empathy for my situation. It was like I was standing in the dark alone. The only benefit I could see myself receiving was good posture. We set a date for when the surgery would take place: April 25 at 9:00 AM. I was so nervous, I couldn’t focus in school very well and almost every fun activity I did, I would think to myself, “I will never be able to do this again.” I did not have a good attitude towards getting the surgery and I regret it.
The surgery itself was so hard to get through but I did! Although I was 5’8½” when I received my brace, I entered the hospital at 5 feet 8 inches tall. The last thing I clearly remember about that week was when the doctors put the gas mask on me before the operation. In the hospital, I don’t remember much but being in pain all the time and constantly pressing the handheld button that would distribute my medicine. I thought it was remarkable how quickly the nurses wanted me to move around for fear of scarring on the inside. The day after the surgery they had me sitting up in bed; Day 2, I was standing; Day 3, I was sitting in a chair; Day 4, I was walking; Day 5, I was climbing stairs. The first thing they did when I could walk was measure my new height. I now stand at 5’10”. I remember being excited about that. I also remember my mom being right next to me every time I woke up. She never left my side and I could not have gotten through this surgery without her.
Now, at four months into recovery, I am feeling great. Although I am still stiff and having to learn how to move my back so I can do certain things, I am so glad I endured the surgery because it was definitely worth it. I only have occasional pain in my back now rather than constant. I feel balanced. Although I know this was a major surgery and it will take time and effort to learn how to use my back again in athletics, I regret being so worried about it beforehand because I had a great doctor and great support and I also learned that I am a strong person. I believe anyone can do hard things or endure unbearable trials if they have good support, the right mind-set and a lot of faith.

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summerh. said...
Aug. 29 at 12:43 pm
@englishclass this is like amazing i have scoliosis at age 12 and had spinal infused surgery i have 2 rods they infused my lower back i know what you've been through
hzengmar said...
Dec. 18, 2015 at 8:29 pm
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