Patient Stories

Amanda Penna


Since I was a little girl in elementary school, I always had a hump on my back and pain like one couldn’t even imagine. At the time, being an ice skater and a softball player, I had really no patience for any kind of pain. As the years progressed and me going through my growth spur, the pain in my back rose so high to the point where it was a problem.


Being only thirteen and having to ice my back every chance I got or even having a difficult time sitting in chairs, was really annoying. Being an athlete, and now in middle school, the last thing on my mind was surgery. So I tried every possible thing to help shape my back to become normal. I went to a chiropractor, I did certain stretches, I went to physical therapy, and I was massaged a lot. Even though the pain went away for maybe an hour, it always seemed to come back. Even doing exercises didn’t do the trick, because every time I took a new X-RAY it always seemed to get worse and worse. See my scoliosis was different, I had it in the upper part of my back, and also a little in my lower back to add on the joy. As my back was becoming worse and worse, the pain was so bad I couldn’t even play my position in softball or I could barely complete my lay backspin while skating. It got to the point where I was in tears, so my mom took me to all sorts of doctors and I was hoping one of them would say, “oh you don’t need surgery your fine” or even “I will just give you a back brace.” Even though back braces aren’t the loveliest fashion accessories I was desperate for anything other than surgery. Since my main curve was in the upper half of my back though, the brace was useless.


With posture becoming unflattering and terrible ache everyday, I felt like an old lady with all my back issues. Finally, my parents found me an amazing doctor, Dr. Newton. Not only is he the best at his surgeries he was also the first doctor I actually felt comfortable with, which was my big thing. He told me I needed surgery, of course not the answer I wanted, but if I guess since so many doctors told me I needed it I just had to accept it. After I got use to the fact that I needed this, I was okay and finally truly believed in it. Since this is such a big surgery, I knew I was going to be absent from school for about a month and a week. So going into 8thgrade, I was nervous because I didn’t want to miss so much school. After the first week of school, I had to leave for surgery. After this point I just really wanted it over with, but wasn’t that nervous because I trusted Dr. Newton and his crew. I think my Dad and my friends were more nervous than I actually was. I remember, the weekend before my procedure, I had a softball tournament; I was pitching and just started crying on the mound. My whole back was numb and it hurt like no other, they had to pull me out of the game. I just remember that feeling of ache and hurt and I remember I never wanted to feel like that again, it got to the point where I had to go in the car and just sit there until my back felt workable again, it was not pleasurable at all.


The day before my surgery, my friends threw me a going away party, since I was going to be away for a while. After everyone was leaving, I just started crying, and most them did too. They were scared they were going to loose me, and then they got me scared! I didn’t want to leave any of them, but that was probably the most loved filled night that I ever had. I felt so blessed to have these girls and boys bring me things to make me feel better while home and just all the cards and notes really cheered me up.


The next day came, and it was surgery time. I just remember being so tired because it was so dang early! I got to Rady’s Children’s Hospital, and I felt scared but ready for my spine to be better. Now in my hospital gown and now asked to leave my parents, I was getting pretty nervous, I didn’t want to let go of my Mom nor Dad, but finally had to. When I walked into the cold surgery room there were so many doctors in there, it made me feel better that many doctors were there though to make sure I was okay, and monitoring me while I was going to be under. They put the anesthesia in me and then I went to sleep. About five hours later, I was awake in my hospital room. I was so happy now that I know it was over and done with and I eventually gained my confidence back.


Before surgery my curve was seventy-eight degrees and now it’s about eighteen. I grew three inches from my surgery, and now being sixteen I am five foot eleven inches. Being a sophomore in High School, I am on the girl’s varsity softball team still pitching and playing on first base. While I pitch too, there is no pain!! I quit ice-skating after my surgery just because I wasn’t interested in it anymore. My ability to play softball has improved, just from not having to stop and ice anymore. My back is healthy and it makes me feel normal. I can sit in school desks without being uncomfortable. If I had to do this surgery again I would, it changed my life for the better. I am just so happy I never would have to go back to the pain and misery I was once was in, plus I have a gnarly scar along my spine, which is cool. My life has been going so well, and my back hasn’t been in the way like it once was. I am very happy with my results and I’m back to being a normal teenager. Probably surgery was the best decision of my life, without it I don’t know how I would be still functioning.  Thank you Dr. Newton and Nurse Amy, you guys really saved me.



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