Patient Stories

Alyssa Edwards

How Perspective Changes a Thunderstorm

I used to be afraid of thunderstorms. The loud, unsettling noises and bright flashes terrified my three-year-old self. Then, one stormy night, my dad took me by the hand and started walking towards the door. I reluctantly followed. We sat in front of the glass door watching the lightning strike and listening to the thunder that quickly followed. I was mesmerized by what had once scared me, and surely enough, they became one of my favorite things. I genuinely looked forward to thunderstorms. Just one night changed my perspective on thunderstorms, and likewise, one experience can change your perspective on life.

I stood in front of the mirror, gazing at the body I saw standing before me. I ran my fingers along my spine as it curved from one side of my body to the other. I pushed against my ribs, judging the disproportionate points that caused one rib to stick out farther than the other. At 13 years old, the self-judgement became a habitual routine. I loathed the disorder that caused my body to look and feel so abnormal. I loathed the nights spent crying because the muscle pain in my back and hips was too intense. I loathed the countless amount of doctors’ appointments and the constant feeling of being let down by my own body. Suddenly, I was three years old again and my scoliosis seemed like the thunderstorm I was once so afraid of.

I was just ten years old when I was diagnosed with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. At this point, my curves had just barely met the standards to be considered scoliosis and so for the next few years, my scoliosis was not monitored. Fast forward to eighth grade, my scoliosis had rapidly progressed and was diagnosed as severe.

Numerous specialists reviewed my case, but the outcome was always the same: improvements from bracing were not hopeful, and surgery would be my only option. Every time I heard those words a bit of hope was stolen from me. I wrestled with the idea of surgery for months. I was fighting a battle against my own body and I felt defeated. The storm I was facing had barely started, and I felt as though I had already succumbed to my fears. But I knew I still had a long road ahead of me and continuing on with this outlook would only strengthen the unsettling feeling of defeat. It was because of this realization that I kept pushing through, praying and hoping the storm would soon end. On June 23, 2017, Dr. Baron Lonner performed the VBT procedure, tethering my T-11 to L-3. I changed in two ways on this day: the first being I now had a 6-inch scar running down my side and five screws imbedded in my vertebral column, and the second being I had a new perspective on my life. On June 23, 2017, I opened my eyes to look for the good in bad situations.

I am still fighting my scoliosis, but I am no longer afraid of it. Similar to how the stormy night spent with my dad changed my outlook on storms, I have chosen to overlook my fears and apply a new perspective to my scoliosis. It was because of my scoliosis that I learned the key to living the fullest life I possibly could was accepting the good with the bad. My pain and fear have taught me something comfort never could. Since my surgery in June, my thoracic curve has continued to progress, and my tether has broken. Due to these unforeseen circumstances, I will undergo a thoracic fusion in the near future, along with a VBT correction in my lumbar spine. It is unknown what my future will hold, but I have grown to learn that my storm is a blessing enriched with many lessons and growth opportunities. My scoliosis has impacted my life for the better, and has led me to become the person I am today.


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