Patient Stories

Anna O’Connor

Surgery Can Change Your Life

When I was eight years old I was diagnosed with scoliosis which led to an orthopedic appointment at A.I DuPont Hospital. My scoliosis meant I had to wear a brace. I wore the brace at night, and sometimes when I came home from school. Not having to wear the brace twenty-four hours a day gave me a little freedom.

During the course of treatment, Dr. Shah, my surgeon, kept looking to see if the curve in my back was getting worse or better. He helped me through the process of wearing a brace. He wanted to make sure my curve would not get worse, so at my six month follow-up appointment, I had to have x-rays done again. I thought the hardest part was after the x-rays, when Dr. Shah looked at my results. I did not want to hear any bad news, and for a while I didn’t, but my life aside from going to my follow-up visits was crazy too. I attended Assumption Blessed Virgin Mary through eighth grade. I was in basketball, softball, and band. Once I reached Avon Grove High School, I stuck with band. I did not want people to know about my scoliosis. It was a struggle for me in some ways, balancing between my brace, my appointments, and all the activities going on. I did not have any restrictions, although I still worried about the brace and how it was affecting me. When my friends finally found out about my scoliosis, they were extremely supportive.

During my sophomore year in high school, Dr. Shah saw that my curve was getting worse, and he recommended spinal fusion surgery. Dr. Shah explained what it was and how the surgery would be performed. He told me that I was not the only one having the surgery; there are many others who are having it and who have already had it. He said that after the surgery and recovery, I would be able to return to my normal activities. The thought of surgery was stuck in my head for days. Through all of what he was telling me, I just kept thinking, ‘Why me? Why does this have to happen to me?’ Others have had to undergo spinal surgery, though, and one of those families helped mentor me and my family through our experience. It was hard to believe everything Dr. Shah had said, but sure enough, it was true.

After my surgery, I was in the hospital recovering for five days. I had a severe amount of pain which would not go away. After the hospital, I also had to recuperate at home for two weeks. When the pain from the surgery ends, you have to learn how to do some activities over again. For example, stretching, walking, and even just sitting up all have to be relearned, but it was all worth it because now I am back and doing all the things I love. My spinal surgery made me become stronger and more confident.

I have been to A.I for so many appointments and two operations. Spinal fusion surgery has shaped me into the person I am today. Dr. Shah has influenced me to become a music therapist, and when I go to the hospital now, I see kids that I want to help. My hospital experience has helped me realize that not all kids are as fortunate as I am, which makes me want to help even more. Also, with all the experiences I went through at A.I, I want to give back. Being a music therapy major will allow me, after graduation, to help soothe kids’ stress and pain while they’re in the hospital. I want to continue playing music for myself and others. Sure, I may have rods and screws in my back, but that does not disable me or stop me from achieving what I want to become. I have been accepted to West Chester University’s music program, where I will major in Music Therapy, which is a joint program offered through West Chester and Immaculata University. Scoliosis can change your life for better or for worse. It made mine better.


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