Patient Stories

Elizabeth Conklin

Looking back now, I think I had the ultimate scoliosis experience, but when I was first diagnosed with scoliosis, during the summer before sixth grade, I had no idea what would be in store for me over the next eight years. I wore a brace sixteen hours a day for three years, and in those three years, wearing my brace produced positive results, so it was decided that I no longer had to wear it.

After four years of not wearing my brace, I began to see changes in the way my body looked. During my senior year of high school, I had a check-up. My doctor told me that my curves had dramatically increased from thirty-two and thirty-four degrees to fifty-two and fifty-one degrees. I even had a small eleven degree curve in my neck. All of this added together meant only one thing: spinal fusion surgery was necessary.

Even though I needed to have the surgery, the thought of a surgery was absolutely terrifying. My parents and I decided to postpone the surgery until after I finished my first year of college, but as I went through my first year of college, I became extremely self-conscious of the way my body looked. On top of my self-consciousness, the pain I felt in my ribs and hips was becoming unbearable. Although the idea of spinal fusion frightened me, I began to realize that it was the only way to change my life for the better.

My surgery lasted eight hours. When it was done, I had two rods and twenty-four screws in my spine, and I finally had a spine with minimal curves. Even more exciting than all of my new hardware and straightened spine, was that I grew two inches in the process!

At first, the recovery process was extremely difficult, both physically and emotionally. However, with the help of the amazing nurses at Nemours/Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children and my wonderful doctor, Dr. Shah, I was on my feet in no time! Once I got home from the hospital, my parents pushed me to be active and perform small tasks around the house to rebuild my strength. I did this every day, and it worked. I am so happy that my parents drove me to get up and keep moving, because it really did speed up my recovery. It only took six weeks before I was able to go back to work as a camp counselor, where I spent my days chasing after eight year olds, and after seven months, I was able to snowboard again as if I didn’t even have two titanium rods in my back! To mark my one year post-op anniversary, I ran a ten-mile race with my dad by my side. Later that day, my family and I celebrated with an awesome cake that had pictures of my x-rays and scar on it!

I am so grateful for everyone who helped me throughout my journey with scoliosis. I can’t thank Dr. Shah enough for everything he has done for me! Having spinal fusion surgery was definitely the best decision I have ever made. Looking back on my long journey, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t change a single thing. I am proud to have conquered scoliosis, and I am proud every time I look at my scar because I am reminded of everything that I have overcome to get to where I am today. This scar on my back is mine, and I earned it!


Read more patient stories like this from around the world.

Post a comment