Patient Stories

Patient Story: Jules G

I was diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of two, but the diagnosis didn’t really mean anything to me. I knew I always had scoliosis, but it never directly affected me, so luckily I was able to lead a normal life. In fifth grade, after yearly visits to my doctor, it was obvious that my two curves were growing at exceptionally fast rates, and in order to prevent further progression I was put into a night brace. I was fully fine with the night brace, because no one knew that I had it. Only my family, and closest friends knew that each night I wrapped myself up in hard plastic; the rest of my classmates and peers were unaware of it.

Unfortunately, my curve continued to grow, and the next step was the ever-so-daunting day brace. I was expected to wear my brace for twenty hours a day. I won’t lie: the three years that I was in my day brace were some of the hardest times. It was exhausting and inconvenient to be in plastic for so many hours of the day. I often felt like giving up, when I couldn’t pick something up, or go to the bathroom as easily as I could before. I started exclusively wearing huge sweatshirts, in an attempt to hide my brace. I just wanted to fit in, but it seemed like all I was doing was standing out.

I was elated when I was told that I was “de-braced” before high school. I would start at a new school, where no one knew of my scoliosis. I was ready to put my scoliosis in the past. I continued to live the “normal” life that I always wanted to in middle school, and I was so deeply happy.

When quarantine started, my scoliosis wasn’t on my mind, but as months passed I noticed that my body looked even more asymmetrical than before, and I was having consistent back pain. I put this aside, blaming my changing body on weight loss, and attributing my back pain to sitting at my desk for whole days because of virtual school. The distance between my last doctor’s appointment continued to grow, because of the Covid restrictions, but at the beginning of my junior year, I knew and felt that it needed to be taken care of. At my appointment, it was discovered that my two curves of 30 degrees and 40 degrees, had grown to 40 degrees and 50 degrees, respectively. In the span of less than two years, my curves had worsened by ten degrees each. This appointment was the first time that surgery was brought up. It was a clear decision for me: I was going to have the surgery.

Two rods and 26 screws later, I can confidently say, having scoliosis surgery was the best choice that I have ever made. Not only do I stand a couple inches taller, but my quality of life is so much better. Just a couple of months after my surgery, I was able to seamlessly return to school. Knowing I had teachers and peers who were advocating for me at all times, was incredibly reassuring. The first week was physically exhausting, but I quickly acclimated to the school setting, and have only had positive experiences since. I have learned not to hide my spine, and now embrace the 17 inch scar that decorates my back. I wish I could tell my middle school self not to be so hard on herself. My scoliosis genuinely makes me, me. It has taught me perseverance, strength and drive (and how many people’s nicknames can be “The Terminator”?) I would make the decision to re-have the surgery any day, and know that the quality of my future
will be so much better now.


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