Hi! My name is Kaitlyn. I was diagnosed with scoliosis when I was 12. I was told that I had a 57-degree curvature in my spine, and I would need surgery to correct it. As soon as I heard the word “surgery”, I was terrified. I believed surgery was the worst possible thing that could happen to me. My family has had bad experiences with surgery in the past, so they were extra cautious to avoid spinal surgery for me. Standing on the other end of my treatment and looking back, I know for a fact that surgery was the best possible option since being diagnosed with scoliosis.
There is a common misconception that surgery needs to be avoided at all costs, even if it means living in a constant state of pain for many years. My parents believed this fallacy and pushed me to get treatments that stalled my life and left me suffering for years. I had to wear a brace, which most people who go through scoliosis know is horrible. You do not get to feel like a normal person with a brace. Scoliosis is lonely and painful, and no one around you really knows what you are going through. During this time, I went through the worst pain I had gone through after being diagnosed. I lived in this constant state of agony, until finally two years later I had enough. I could not physically wear my brace anymore. My parents tried to convince me that I needed to wear my brace because surgery was something horrible, and I needed to do everything that I could to prevent it. My doctor told us that if I chose to wear the brace for a few more years until I stopped growing, my curvature would never get better, and there was always a possibility of needing surgery when I got older anyways. I would live with scoliosis for the rest of my life, and I would never be a normal kid if I did not get the surgery. At this point in my treatment, I was desperate. I wanted everything to be over. I wanted to not have to do physical therapy every night or must wear a brace for eighteen hours a day. I wanted my life back. If I had surgery, I would be able to be just like every other kid my age, except for a few rods, screws, and a large scar on my back. In my opinion, the scar was a bonus, because it is a constant reminder of how strong I truly am. It is a reminder that I went through a traumatic and painful experience and I came out the other end stronger, healthier, and overall happier. I will be completely honest with you, the surgery is its own battle, but it is a battle that is worth fighting. It is a whole boatload of pain, but after a couple weeks the pain goes away almost completely. For me, the hardest part about the surgery was not the pain. It was after all the pain. After surgery, there is a six-month period where you are not allowed to bend or twist your spine. What I struggled with most post-surgery was holding myself back after a month or so. After the pain subsides and your body returns to normal, you feel stronger and better than ever. You want to go run around and bend your back, but you must hold yourself back for a few months. The plus side is that although six months feels like a long time, it goes by in the blink of an eye. What helped me through my recovery to heal better was walking. Every day, starting immediately after surgery, my mom forced me to walk around our neighborhood. The first couple of days were an adjustment, as I could not walk by myself and needed someone to physically support me. After a week or so, I could finally walk by myself. The daily walking for a couple months post-surgery tremendously helped strengthen my back. It made my recovery smooth and easy. Since having surgery, I have been more confident about my body. I play soccer and softball and for the first time do not feel any pain while playing. I can be as active as I want, without any restrictions or pain. I can live my life doing the activities that I love comfortably for the first time in forever, and I have my doctor and my spinal fusion surgery to thank for that. If you take away anything from what I just said, just know that surgery is not the worst thing in the world. It is a blessing in disguise.