Patient Stories

Gabriella Gimber

On May 17th, 2010, when I was fourteen years old, I underwent a spinal fusion. My spinal fusion was performed by Dr. Peter Newton at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, California. At the time of my surgery, I had a sixty degree right thoracic curve that was only going to continue to get worse. Having a surgery was scary, but the thought of living a life of disfigurement, back pain, and physical limitation was scarier. That’s why I decided to have the surgery.

After my surgery, I was given a squishy heart-shaped pillow from a girl named McKenna Keyes. McKeena had the same scoliosis surgery I had, only she had hers two years before I had mine. Before McKeena’s hospital stay, she had been given a pillow as a gift, and that pillow had brought her so much comfort that she wanted to share that with others. So McKeena began giving out heart-shaped pillows to other scoliosis patients undergoing spinal fusions. When McKeena left for college, I decided to continue her work, and I began providing pink heart-shaped pillows, information, and emotional support to teenager girls who are preparing for spinal surgery like I did.

I spent six days in the hospital, and although my surgery and recovery were probably the hardest things I have ever been through in my life, I succeeded. I made it through both experiences, and I am now stronger than ever! I wanted to share my story to remind each of you that, as you go through your scoliosis treatment, you are not alone! I want offer others heart-shaped pillows to remind them that they have nothing but love and good wishes being sent to them. A heart-shaped pillow may seem like a small thing, but mine reminded me that I was not alone and that others cared about what I was going through. My pillow gave me physical comfort and emotional support. In fact, I still sleep with my pillow today!

If you’re faced with surgery and feel afraid, know that you can do it! You can reach the end of your scoliosis journey stronger and happier than ever!


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