Patient Stories

Katarina Harvey

My name is Katarina Harvey. I was about 11 years old when I first heard the word “scoliosis” and that I had been diagnosed with it.  Being a 11-year-old, I was clueless about what scoliosis was and how it was going to change my life.  Prior to being diagnosed, I remember my clothes not fitting right. My shirts would be slanted off my shoulders or my skirts just didn’t sit right on my hips. I thought to myself, that I looked like a mess. My mother would often adjust my clothing on my body, also noticing that something wasn’t quite right.  It wasn’t until I started to have sharp pains often in my chest cavity every time, I took a breath, that I had to meet with my pediatrician. It took a second visit to the pediatrician to determine that in fact that I had scoliosis and that my spinal curvature was affecting the way I was breathing. 

My curvature was being monitored quite often and was later determined that I needed to wear a back brace. I must say that my back brace was my worst enemy. I did not just wear my brace one year, but it turned into 3 years. It was three years wearing it practically 23 hours a day for 3 years. Every time I would bend over my brace would stick out and people would question my appearance, 3 years of sleeping in discomfort, 3 years of people wondering what was on my back as they felt this odd thing when they hugged me. I no longer wanted to wear this brace for a fourth year. So, I decided to take it off during one hot summer and just like that, my curvature went for the worse thus requiring spinal surgery. I was relieved to hear this news. No more brace equaled freedom! Surgery was the best thing that ever happened to me.  Of course, my parents have questions and concerns as any parent would. My surgeon was truly awesome, attentive, and empathetic.  In fact, I currently work at the same hospital as my surgeon as a pediatric nurse and have run into her a couple of times. 

The recovery was terrible to say the least, but here I am 15 years later, living a normal life. You may wonder how getting surgery may affect your life. I was able to do the things that I love after recovering. I was able to participate in sports, work out at the gym, travel internationally, and fulfill my career as pediatric nurse. Trust me when I say that I was scared and concerned when I heard I was diagnosed with scoliosis, but I was fortunate to have a supportive family and health professionals that took great care of me.  I am left with a scar on my back, but I must say that I love it. It tells my story and testimony, which in turn your scar will be yours as well. 

I would like you to know nothing in life is easy, but with resilience and a can-do attitude; obstacles living with scoliosis can be overcome.  Trust me, I am thriving!


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