619-810-1430
info@ssshsg.org

scoliosis surgery

Sophia Perez

My name is Sophia Perez and I had spinal fusion surgery on June 13, 2018. I’d like to say my life changed that day. I was diagnosed when I went for a well check up at the age of 8 with my pediatrician, Dr. Mark Ginsburg. I went for an x-ray, and it was confirmed that I had scoliosis. I didn’t know what that meant, but I do remember my mother’s look of concern. I thought I had something similar to a cold and it would eventually go away. Little did I know that this would never be the story. My mother took me to Nicklaus Children’s hospital to see a specialist and that is when I met Dr. Harry Shufflebarger. I’d like to say that he is the best doctor any one could have!

Dr. Shufflebarger advised us that I would need to be monitored every year with an x-ray. I was cool with that, and continued my life as an elementary school kid and swimming, which was my passion. It was like that until the summer before I entered 5th grade, a few months before my 10th birthday that in my yearly routine check-up my degrees had changed past the 25 degrees. This meant bracing. I was terrified at the thought that I had to wear a plastic brace that covered me from just under my shoulder to my hip area. I cried all the way home. I would wear this brace for 10 to 12 hours in the evening. I hid this from my friends, I stopped sleepovers and only a select few were able to see me with my brace. Every travel swim met, I’d have to bring my brace with me, and I made sure no one saw this plastic thing I learned to hate. As my next two years progressed, so did the amount of time I had to wear my brace. I hated the sticky feeling of having to wear this brace, especially in the hot Florida weather. I developed rashes, and the sweating under the brace made me hate it even more. I also started doing concave exercises and visiting a chiropractor to see if my progression would slow down. Nothing worked and my visits went from yearly, to every six months to every 3 months. This really scared me! The thought of avoiding surgery was looking more and more grim. The only bright light for me was that my swimming had taken off, and it was the only thing that kept me positive and going. 

October 3rd, 2017 I had a checkup with Dr. Shufflebarger. I had a routine: go in, get the x-ray, see Dr. Shufflebarger, degrees went up slightly, come back in three months. This was not the case on this check-up. I did my x-ray, but when Dr. Shufflebarger came in, I knew by the look on his face that the news was grim. His exact words, “it is highly unlikely that Sophia can avoid surgery.” I could not believe what he said. I began to cry; he asked me why I was crying. I told him that I was a good swimmer, and I wanted to be able to swim and compete and go to college and swim collegiately. He looked right into my eyes and said, “Who said you can’t? You will be able to do it all. The butterfly might be harder, but you can.” I met nurse Michelle Burnstein that day. She would become our best friend in this journey. I left there unbelievably sad. I didn’t even go to practice that day. I couldn’t. I thought about my swimming, and the years I had put into this sport and how I didn’t think it was possible. I asked my family to not tell anyone about my upcoming surgery. I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me, or pity me.

So I went to practice every day and worked hard. I wore the brace, but only to sleep, and we decided that my degrees, although it was over the 50%, it could wait for the summer. In January my mother and Michelle set up a date. June 13, 2018. That was my great-grandmother’s birthday, and I knew she’d be there as my guardian angel. I swam at my championship meet in March like it was my last one for a long time. I didn’t know how long my recovery would be. The short course season ended, and around that time I had decided to tell my swim friends and coaches. I knew that they were hoping for the best, but they too were unsure about my recovery. I began the long course season in April, and swam three meets. As school was ending, I knew that the surgery was approaching. I didn’t want school to end. I went to my last check up before surgery on May 3rd of 2018. It was a long three-hour appointment in which Michelle explained what my surgery pre/ during/ and post most would look like. I was photographed and I asked two questions. My only two questions were: “When can I start swimming?” and “will I ever do the butterfly again?” The butterfly was my best stroke and it scared me that I could never do it again. I began drinking folic acid and iron vitamins, and two weeks before my surgery my dad and I donated blood for my surgery. I took it like a champ. I didn’t want to miss practice because in my eyes if I missed any practice it would make me slower.

My mom received a phone call from Michelle the first week of June, asking if I could get a CT scan of my spine. I was worried and thought that there was something else happening. I went the day before my last long course meet and in my mind maybe ever. I didn’t want to miss practice, so we went the first day of my two-day summer vacation to get my scan done. My curve was in the 60’s! I could not believe it. The Saturday before my surgery my parents took me to Universal so I could ride the Hulk one last time. It was the best weekend. On Tuesday, the very last day of practice, I said my goodbyes. I remember getting picked up and keeping myself from breaking down because I wanted to be at the pool, and not going to the hospital to have surgery. We registered and that began the longest night of my life. My dad stayed with me, and the next morning my brother, sister, mom, dad, and my godmother were they’re waiting for me to be wheeled to the surgical/prep room. I went with mom and dad, and at that point said goodbye to my sister and brother. In the prep room, I saw Dr. Shufflebarger and Michelle. They made me feel very relaxed and sure that this was for my own good. I am not going to lie, I was nervous. The doctors gave me something to relax me and that is when I was wheeled out to the actual surgical room. I saw Dr. Shufflebarger wash his hands and the next time I woke up I was in my room.

It was tough. Recovery has not been easy. I cannot explain the pain I endured the first few weeks. I hated having to walk, sit up, eating the first few days. I kept listening to my inner voice that told me that this would end soon. I have to say that it was hard. I needed help going to the bathroom, lying down, sitting up you name it, I needed help with it. As the long summer days came, all my friends were having fun, and I was recovering. I had to walk every 2 hours to help with my recovery. Everyone in my family took turns. I got to know the neighborhood and my neighbor’s very well. I had many visitors in that time, my pain was still there, but everyday got better. Like the words of my 5th grade teacher I was a warrior.  I could not wait for Dr. Shufflebarger to give the ok to get into the water, and sure enough in the month of July 6 weeks later he gave the ok. I was able to get in the water and just float. It was great. I started to have friends come over, and hang out in the pool.

Dr. Shufflebarger gave us the o.k. to get back to the pool on September 13, 2018. No diving or flip turns, but I could kick. I remember getting back, and my head coach was very nervous. I jumped into my own lane and was able to kick and it felt different than before. I had to get used to my body altogether. I was used to swimming in a twisted body, my hard ware was holding my spine together and my hips were straight and my legs were the same length. I felt my insides and there times that I got scared. Mom made sure to call Michelle several times, to only hear “it is normal”. I still had doubts that my swimming would be like it used to be. I was slower, my legs hurt when I kicked, I was afraid to be hit or kicked in my back by anther swimmer. However, in October I made sure to go to practice and try harder. I had specifically picked the beginning of June to be able to attend the Championship meet in Gainesville on the first weekend of December. I was given the all clear 7 days before that meet to do flip turns and dive off the block. I remember how excited I was to let my coach know, and how nervous I was when I did my first jump and flip. I was ready. I went with my team, Gulliver Swim Club to the meet. My swims were surprisingly not too off from my best times. The last night I got a best time in the 100 free! It was all I needed to believe that this surgery was not going to impede me from getting my ultimate goal: swimming collegiately, getting my best times, sectionals, futures cuts etc… Nothing would be impossible! I could do it!

I worked hard training for the Championship in March, the same one I didn’t know I would swim in. I was entered into 7 events that I had qualified for prior to surgery. Would I be able to swim close to those times? I went into that meet hoping to be close to my best times, after all it had been 9 months since surgery and I was going to swim the 200 fly and 100 fly, which Dr. Shufflebarger had said would be tough to do again. March 15,16,17 of 2019 was the junior Olympics. I swam 5 out of 7 best times and received three AAA times, which means I did very well. I couldn’t believe that my hard work had gotten me this far. The road to recovery has not been easy. I still get stares and “ill” or “aww “when people see my scar. I see it like my battle wound. People used to get grossed out when they would see my spine all twisted when I’d bend before I would jump into the water and now they are horrified to see my scar. I have learned that my scar identifies who I am. It was meant for me to have this surgery, to explain to other athletes like me that you can do it. It will not be easy, and you will be told that you cannot do it, but that should light a flame in you to believe in yourself and do it.

I am only 14 years old, and I have experienced something that most people will have never experienced. I knew the day I left Nicklaus Children’s hospital that I wanted to help other patients that were going to endure the same operation as mine. I have always worn crazy looking socks at my championship meets; it is a good luck charm for me. I wore them the day of my surgery and for the first six weeks of my surgery. I have decided that I want to collect crazy socks and I hope to reach 1,000 followers for my cause Curvescanbecured. Be assured that you are not alone, scoliosis affects many young children, and there is nothing that you could have done different to get this disease. Know that you were chosen to be a scolio warrior!

Sincerely,
Sophia Perez

READ MORE PATIENT STORIES

Read more patient stories like this from around the world.

Read more

Sydney Borchardt

My name is Sydney Borchardt and I am 13 years old.  I was diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis at my 10 year old well-child checkup.  I didn’t even know what scoliosis was at that time.  My parents just told me the doctors were going to monitor my back.  Six months later, we went back to the orthopedic doctor for x-rays and my curves had progressed from 18 degrees to 38 degrees.  The doctor explained that I would need to wear a back brace to keep my curves from progressing.

At the orthotics office, I was shown the boston brace.  It was big and hard and I had no idea how I would wear it 23 hours a day.  At that time, I was a little too young to understand everything and my parents kept a positive attitude and expected the same from me. My parents planned a fun outing for me the day I got my brace.  It was a fun day, but the brace was hard to adjust to.  In time, it became a part of me.  I did feel lonely at times because I didn’t know anyone else that had scoliosis.  My grandmother had scoliosis and had spinal fusion, but she passed away from cancer before my diagnosis.  Having the straps on the back of my brace made it hard because I had to always ask someone else for help to take it off and put it back on.  My best friends became experts in strapping me back into my brace.

After 1 ½ year of bracing, my parents took me to Wisconsin for some specialized chiropractic care.  The chiropractic exercises were a lot harder than brace wearing, but I was committed to do it to try and avoid spinal fusion surgery.  After 5 months of the exercises and still wearing a brace at night, my curve had progressed to 42 degrees.  After much research, my parents decided to fly us to Shriner’s Hospital for a consultation for VBT.  I was so scared to have surgery, but my parents were really upbeat and positive about the possibility of VBT.  My stomach hurts even thinking about needles. I was more scared about having needles put in than the actual surgery.

On February 16th, 2018 I had VBT at Shriner’s Hospital in Philadelphia with Dr. Steven Hwang.  Within two weeks, I was feeling great and I certainly did not miss wearing my brace.  I am so thankful to Shriner’s and my parents for all that they have done for me.  I have also met many girls with scoliosis through the Curvy Girls organization.  I recently became the leader of the Oklahoma Chapter of Curvy Girls.  I want other girls to know that they are not alone.  It wasn’t an easy journey, but I am thankful to everyone who has had my ‘back’.  I feel more confident about speaking about my health issues.  My 1st goal is to get scoliosis screening back in Oklahoma schools and then work on better scoliosis care here in Oklahoma.

Sincerely,
Sydney Borchardt

READ MORE PATIENT STORIES

Read more patient stories like this from around the world.

Read more

Maria Chiara Feadda

My name is Maria Chiara Faedda, from Italy. I am now 37 years old. I was diagnosed scoliosis when I was 11, and that was when I received my first brace. I was supposed to wear it most of the day, the only exceptions were lunch, dinner and while sleeping. My scoliosis was moderate and it affected the central part of the spine (I guess it was in lordosis form), this is the reason why the doctor decided for a brace and for constant physical therapy.

I started taking swimming classes for many years and went through some very painful therapies hoping to get rid of that painful and ugly brace. During those years, I had to learn to be stronger than other kids of my age, some of them were mean, they made jokes about my conditions and even called me “DEFORMED”. I have always been aware of being different, because of my spine, I couldn’t wear all the clothes I wanted due to the brace and I hated myself and my reflection in the mirror.

Over the years, I built up confidence in myself, and my parents and my family have been my strength. My friends encouraged me not to give up. The love I have always received has been an incredible blessing. It all changed with my family moving to Belgium where we lived for a few years because of my father’s work.

It was January 14th (my mum’s birthday), and I am sitting in front of Dr. Roussoly (he literally saved me), in his office at The Centre Médico-Chirugical de readaptacion des Massues in Lyon, France. I clearly see my spine x-rays hanging in front of me as the doctor says “SURGERY”, and he explains the procedure to my parents, I start silently crying, unable to stop the tears from my eyes. Hospitals have always scared me and all of a sudden I was to be in one for a while.

June of 1999, is when I had a 5 hour surgery, the surgeons corrected the curve by  inserting titanium rods on both sides of my spine and in between to keep it straight. After a few hours in intensive care, I was back in my room, and three days later I started walking again. I spent two weeks in hospital and it took six months (and a lot of physical therapy) to recover. The pain has been intense and I could barely do any normal activity but it was all worth it. You never completely heal from scoliosis, you learn to live with it.

This is the first time I have ever told my story, going through the scoliosis process marks you for life. It has left some insecurities about my body and I have scars and one that is visible on my back. Now, I have decided to share my story and help give support all the unique individuals that are struggling with Scoliosis.

To all the girls dealing with scoliosis, do not hate your body. You are not ugly, not a monster or deformed, you already are amazing women. To my mum and dad, and to all the parents of scoliosis fighters, thank you for the constant love and support that make you the extraordinary human beings that you are. To my fiancé, the photographer who took the pictures of my scar and made it a work of art. Thank you love, for showing me the beauty of my imperfection, and teaching me to love my scar the way the you do.

Read more

Karen Alvarez


READ MORE PATIENT STORIES

Read more patient stories like this from around the world.

Read more

Chad Biro


READ MORE PATIENT STORIES

Read more patient stories like this from around the world.

Read more

Valerie Chapman

MY JOURNEY WITH SEVERE SCOLIOSIS

I was thirteen when I was diagnosed with severe scoliosis. Wearing a brace wasn’t even an option for me.  The only thing I could do was have surgery, and I’ll never forget what it felt like when I discovered that this would be the only way to fix my condition.

I had been complaining about my back pain for a few months, but it wasn’t until my grandma was rubbing my back that we noticed an incredible hump around my lower back.  I’ve always been long and lanky, but my body had never been something that I was self-conscious about.  Now, I had a hump in my back, and I’d noticed that my waist was no longer symmetrical.  We were clueless.  We had no idea what was wrong with me. I was terrified, and I was worried.  I felt like I had some unknown disease, but I also had this feeling of hope.  I knew that whatever it was, I would be okay.

The s-shaped curve became apparent in less than six months, a rare case never seen by my pediatrician before; that is until I came into the doctor’s office the following day to find out what was wrong with me.  I didn’t know what to expect.  My pediatrician referred me to an orthopedic surgeon, a little miracle worker named Dr. Shufflebarger at Miami Children’s Hospital.

On April 2nd, 2013, one week after spring break, I had spinal fusion surgery.  I spent seven days in the hospital and missed a month of my last year of middle school in order to recover.  Recovery was the hardest part of my journey with scoliosis.  Being forced to leave all of my responsibilities behind drove me crazy!  I went from always being productive to feeling helpless and being homeschooled from my bed.  The recovery process didn’t allow me to go on rollercoasters for a year, so I missed out on memories with my graduating class when they went on their trip to a theme park, but I returned to school in May and delivered the class speech at my 8th grade graduation as previously planned.  This was the first time after surgery that I realized that even though I had sacrificed being my usual active self, it was all going to be worth it.  I would be healthy again, and for that I felt blessed.

Just one and a half months after my surgery, I flew to New York City to attend my brother’s graduation.  New York is my favorite place in the entire world, and when I stepped foot in the concrete jungle, I had completely forgotten that I had been lying in a hospital bed just weeks prior.  I was already climbing flights of stairs in the Subway, walking through Central Park, and experiencing life to the fullest again. I’ve always known that New York was a magical city, but this was when I truly realized it.  I still felt pain, but nowhere near the pain I had felt prior to the surgery. I know that the recovery process is different for everyone, and it’s hard, but if I could do it, then so can you!

It’s been over two years since my surgery.  As of now, I’ve ridden tons of rollercoasters and been to New York City several more times.  I’ve begun learning how to code, was elected Vice President of my high school class, became a part of my school’s badminton and bowling teams, and participated in all other “normal” teenage things.  I’m even the founder & CEO of my own business!  This surgery has made me more confident than ever! I’ve learned to embrace all of my imperfections, because they’re a part of who I am.  Scoliosis is part of who I am, but I won’t let it define me.  Don’t let scoliosis stop you from following your dreams.  I didn’t.  At just sixteen years old, I’m currently signed with two famous modeling agencies in New York & Miami.  I had dreamt of becoming a model since I was eight years old.  Who knew being long and lanky would come in handy?  I have a nine inch scar along the middle of my back, and honestly, I think it’s pretty cool!  It sets me apart from everyone else.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about working in the fashion industry, it’s that being unique gets you far.  Makeup can cover up these imperfections, but if makeup didn’t exist, I’d still be proud to walk the runways with my scar totally exposed.  Beauty isn’t about looking perfect. It’s about being confident.  Believe it or not, my epic journey with scoliosis gave me an incredible sense of pride.  To help others feel the same sense of pride, I also created a fashion and lifestyle blog where I write about my personal experiences in the industry and the obstacles I’ve had to overcome.

I have so many more goals that I’m working hard to accomplish every single day.  I never stopped believing in my dreams, not even when the doctor diagnosed me with severe scoliosis.  As a result of my abrupt scoliosis, my pediatrician now gives scoliosis check-ups every three months instead of every six months.  It feels pretty great knowing that my case now prevents other kids from going through this little bump in the road.

I feel so blessed to have had such an incredible support system throughout this entire process.  Having family and friends by my side played a huge role during my recovery.  I’m so thankful for my doctor, nurses, and the caring staff at Miami Children’s Hospital for giving me another chance to feel confident with my body.  I truly believe that the most important thing you can do during times like these is value yourself, believe in your worth, and know that one day all your dreams can become a reality.  Don’t be scared to face scoliosis, and don’t be scared to follow your dreams.  You can get through this!  No medical condition, such as scoliosis, should ever stop you from achieving greatness!

When my grandma first found the hump in my back, I knew that, in the end, I would be okay.  In reality, I was better than okay.  I was able to overcome more obstacles than most teens my age.  The journey is part of who I am now, and I am proud of that person.  Not many people know that I went through this, but it’s something I’m proudly sharing with you because I know that you can get through it too!

READ MORE PATIENT STORIES

Read more patient stories like this from around the world.

Read more

Tara Vasi

I was diagnosed with scoliosis in 6th grade during a routine annual check in the locker room during gym class. I didn’t know what was going on at the time or what the gym teacher was looking for, but when she tapped me on the shoulder and told me to come with her, I knew something was wrong. There were a few other girls that got tapped on the shoulder too, but we were taken to different rooms, and I never saw them again.

My parents took immediate action. My mom made an appointment to get an x-ray at Children’s Hospital in Boston. I still didn’t really understand what the visits up to Boston meant. We usually only went up there for special events, to eat clam chowder at Fanuel Hall, or that time we flew to Disney Land.

I didn’t understand why the doctor put a plastic photo with a squiggly line on the lit up board, or the constant need to wear that itchy backwards dress and bend forward to touch my toes. What I did understand was that while we were in Boston for these doctor visits, we always went to the Cheesecake Factory and at that age, I would pretty much do anything for a slice of cheesecake.

I stopped being excited about the post cheesecake slice when I was introduced to the brace. They told me the brace would fix my spine, or at least stop the curve from getting worse, while I finished my growth spurt. Even as this symbol of straightened hope, I quickly learned to hate the brace more then anything in the world. It was tight, hot and uncomfortable. I even started to not like cheesecake.
I was supposed to wear it as much as possible, to school, to bed, etc. I resisted full throttle and this caused friction between my parents and me, even more so then the typical adolescent/parent fights about makeup, clothes, bedtimes, and extra curricular activities. It even caused more friction between my parents.

They wanted me to wear it to school! I pleaded with them to not make me wear it to school. Did they not remember the opening scenes of Forest Gump?

I wore it to school one day. One day. A kid knocked into me. He literally knocked. I was so embarrassed about having to walk around like a zombie is a corset. I began to ditch it at the bus stop behind the “Welcome to Pine Ridge Estates” sign before getting on the bus to school and then putting it back one before I walked home from school.

I had no one to talk to about my dilemma. I felt like I was forced to lie to my parents.  Didn’t they know how painful the brace was? How painful middle school was? Did they think I was just being a whiney brat and making it all up? I needed someone to help them understand what I was really going in my body, heart, and mind.

I wonder if the brace would have corrected my curve slightly, had I actually listened to the doctors, and my parents, and wore the brace for the recommended amount of time each day. I wonder if I had had someone to talk to, a confidant, or someone who had been through it before, if I would have resisted the brace less.

I didn’t want to have a crooked back, but I was a kid and this ‘curved back thing’ didn’t feel like something a kid should have to go through. I didn’t think about the long term. I just wanted to be accepted. To be cool. To ride my bike and play soccer. No one else seemed to need a brace. It felt like I was the only one going through adolescence with a spine issues.

We went to a physical therapist for alternatives to the brace. She gave me a list of exercises to do every day, including Cat/Cow, spinal flexion and extension, seated side stretches, or lateral extension. I usually did my exercises while watching reruns of Seinfeld with my Dad.

The results of doing the exercises were amazing. I slept better and had less back pain during day-to-day life. The brace didn’t work for me, but this did. It was like a miracle.

Since then I have devoted myself to yoga. The practice helps with my body’s compensation act for the curve that exists, resulting in less pain and better posture. Choosing yoga also creates inner awareness, empowerment, and acceptance that has improved my overall quality of life. I love sharing the gift of yoga with others and hope that by giving back to the community, I can give young girls everywhere hope that you can still lead an awesome, fulfilling and happy life with a curved spine.

READ MORE PATIENT STORIES

Read more patient stories like this from around the world.

Read more

Robert Savich

Detroit Marathon 26.2 Mile

I have scoliosis that started in middle school and grew to an 85% curvature by the end of high school.  I had a total of four major back surgeries, fusions—with rods and all.  The last surgery removed all of my hardware, as the initial fusions held.

It was difficult to stay very positive in those days, but I always did.  I was always a popular guy.  I never showed any weakness, and people didn’t ask about my scoliosis.   Still, it was always on my mind.

My back is still twisted, but I stay confident, and I don’t complain when it gets uncomfortable.  In fact, I never did.  Even after surgery I would not take much of the pain medicine, as I didn’t want to get addicted to it.

My experience with scoliosis has definitely made me stronger.  I am now thirty years old.  In the past year, I got married to my amazing wife, Kristina, and we are now the proud parents to a healthy boy named Marko.  He reminds me of myself when I look at him.  We are both healthy!

I am currently training to run the Detroit Free Press International Marathon on October 18th of 2015. That’s right!  You read correctly…26.2 miles!

When I run, I will be running for those who struggle with scoliosis and for my son Marko!  I had a very severe case of scoliosis, but I knocked it out, and you can too if you stay strong!

READ MORE PATIENT STORIES

Read more patient stories like this from around the world.

Read more

Rachel Johnson

When I was fourteen years old, I was blindsided by a diagnosis of scoliosis. I was suddenly faced with the reality of having a severe curve in my spine that could only be corrected by spinal fusion surgery. I had been a passionate dancer since I was three years old, and I had no idea what my diagnosis meant for my future. What would my dancing look like after surgery? No one could tell me for certain, and that’s what scared me the most.

Following my diagnosis, my family and I began the process of searching for a surgeon. After appointments with a few doctors, we went to Nemours duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware and met with Dr. Suken Shah. As soon as we started talking, I knew he was the right doctor for me. After meeting Dr. Shah, everything went into fast motion. Before I knew it, the date of the surgery was set, and it was constantly looming in my thoughts. The day seemed to approach at an exponentially rapid speed, and by the time it arrived, I was absolutely terrified.

On July 6, 2011, I had spinal fusion surgery. Despite all my fears, the five-hour procedure went perfectly. Looking back, I couldn’t have asked for a better surgeon. During my five days in the hospital, I set my mind on recovery. I knew the worst was over, and all I had to do now was work towards getting my body back into shape.

The five-month recovery process was undeniably one of the hardest things I have ever undergone in my life, but it has completely shaped me into the person I am today. Slowly but surely, I got my body back to where it had been pre-surgery. The road was long and the journey was hard, but I now dance at a level that I never thought would be possible with two pounds of hardware in my back.

This entire experience has strengthened more than just my spine. I have learned so much about myself and discovered a confidence I never knew I had. This entire experience was an inspiration to me, so I decided to do my senior graduation project on my surgery. I made a video featuring myself, two of the girls I have mentored, and my surgeon, in which we all discuss scoliosis and how far it is possible to come after surgery. This video continues to make me smile every time I watch it.

Still, the most rewarding part of this entire experience came at my one-month post-op appointment. Dr. Shah asked me to mentor a girl from Bermuda who was about to have the same surgery I’d just had. One thing led to another, and I have now had the opportunity of mentoring several girls facing spinal fusion surgery. It has been incredible to be able to impact these girls’ lives so directly.

If someone had told me three years ago how much this surgery would change my life for the better, I never would have believed it. It is now clear, however, that it has been the best thing to ever happen to me, and I would not trade a second of this experience for any other.

READ MORE PATIENT STORIES

Read more patient stories like this from around the world.

Read more

Nordirjon Sobirov

Nearly four years ago, Nodirjon Sobirov underwent surgery with Dr. Baron Lonner, a member of the Setting Scoliosis Straight Foundation, in order to correct his severe case of scoliosis. Nodirjon, a teenage immigrant from Uzbekistan, was interviewed by the New York Daily News in 2009, six months after his surgery.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Six months after the lengthy surgery that could have paralyzed him, the once-shy Brooklyn high school student is shooting hoops, swimming laps and making friends.

“Before, I didn’t want to play with people,” Nodirjon said Saturday.”My back was crooked. I was embarrassed. Now I’m feeling great.” The 15-year-old came to New York with his family in 2007 after his mother won a green card lottery. Doctors in his homeland had delayed any back surgery, treating him instead with ineffective massages. The boy’s father, Akmal Kasimov. Said, “My son’s life has been returned to him.” Nodirjon’s spine was bent at a 130-degree angle, leaving him permanently hunched and crippling his lungs. By the time of the Oct. 29th surgery, he was gasping for air and turning blue. During the operation, the surgery team removed vertebrae from the boy’s spine and painstakingly reassembled it. For Nodirjon, the wait was worth it. The surgery, in addition to likely extending his lifespan, has increased his height by 3-1/2 inches. The Fort Hamilton High School freshman’s self-confidence grew even more. “Before the surgery, I didn’t like to go out,” the teen said. “I wore a jacket outside, even when it was warm. I didn’t want to show my back to anyone.”

Now, almost four years after his surgery, Nodirjon is still doing well, saying “I’m happy, I’m comfortable and I go out all the time now. I don’t feel any pain in my back, even when I work out every week.” Nodirjon graduated from high school this year, and he says that it has been a tough road with many difficulties along the way. Nodirjon’s experiences with scoliosis in-spired him to volunteer at a local nursing home in high school, where he assisted doc-tors and patients in his free time. Currently Nodirjon is looking forward to enrolling in a local college this fall, with the hopes of completing his bachelor’s degree in premedical sciences. Nodirjon says, “I had some hard times in my life, and I’ve seen how the doctor helped so many sick people, so I want to become a doctor.” Now that his back is straight and he feels his best, he says he knows he can accomplish anything.

READ MORE PATIENT STORIES

Read more patient stories like this from around the world.

Read more