Hi everyone, my name is Marisa Gelbart and I’ve been a part of the Setting Scoliosis Straight team for a little over a year now. However, besides being a part of Setting Scoliosis Straight, I’ve been mentoring people of all ages that will be having a spinal fusion surgery. While I mainly work with kids, my parents usually help mentor the parents of the child who will be the patient in their upcoming procedure.

I was diagnosed when I was ten (fourth grade). My older brother Eric and I worked for around five years traveling to different surgeons, physical therapists, and specialists that would try making our scoliosis more bearable than it was before. About 3 weeks after my 15th birthday, I ended up having spinal fusion surgery done by Dr. Peter Newton and his amazing team. My last x-ray before the surgery was an all time high of 107 degrees. The surgery lasted 9.5 hours and now that it’s behind me, I’m beyond grateful that I got spinal fusion done.

My advice for future patients would be to remain calm and look for the positive in all of this. Even though the degree curve and surgery time seem daunting, that isn’t the reality that many people face for this procedure. If anything, it’s less than half of that. The point of this procedure isn’t to make you think you failed with physical therapy and the brace didn’t work, this is allowing you to have a more comfortable, and happier standpoint in your life.

The reason I enjoy giving back to others is because when I was told I was going to need surgery, I felt like I failed all the hard work I was putting in. I was always told that surgery was the absolute last resort, and not a good resort either. However, after the entire process I learned how incorrect those statements were, and I’ve been able to grow as an individual much more confident in my skin and capable to do more things than ever before. I didn’t think anyone could relate to me because of the intensity of my curve compared to others, but now that I’m on the other side of the fence, I’ve come to find that I’ve related with so many people no matter what the degree of their procedure was. Throughout the entire process, there wasn’t one person who wasn’t on my side, and my family and friends have been there the entire way, plus now I can say I’m a cyborg.

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