When I first found out that I had scoliosis, I was scared. I thought it was very serious, but my doctor assured me that it was only a minor curve in my spine.
It all started in fifth grade when I got my back screened by the school nurse. She told me my shoulders were uneven, and that I should make an appointment with my doctor. The doctor said that I had some curvature of the spine and that we should come back for a follow-up after three months.
So three months after my first appointment, I had a follow-up. My mother and I expected a one-hour check-up, but I ended up missing a day of school, taking x-rays, and seeing a specialist for a second opinion. They told me I might have to get a procedure done on my back called spinal fusion. The doctor gave me a packet about the surgery. I found out that I was going to have spinal fusion, an operation in which the surgeon rotates the vertebrae and puts two titanium rods in your back to hold your spine up straight.
My parents started planning everything; from how much time they could take off from work and who was going to watch me while they were at work, to where I was going to sleep (since I wouldnít be able to walk for a while).
It all happened so fast. I was confused: Why didnít I notice this before? How come my spine curved so much from the last check-up I had? When my friends found out, they thought I was kidding. I had to get an MRI done; itís like a full-body X-ray. Then I had to donate blood to give to myself during the operation. I gave almost every week for four weeks.
February 11, 2000, was the day of my surgery. I donít remember feeling anything at all. They gave me anesthesia (I was used to needles by then because of all of the blood I had drawn) and, while naming all the members of ĎN Sync, I fell fast asleep.
I woke up that night in the Intensive Care Unit with my mom, dad, and sister by my side. I was aching so badly, I couldnít even turn over. I stayed there for one night. Then I moved into a normal room. My friends visited me, and my sister bought me a bunch of teen magazines to keep me busy. I stayed in the hospital for about a week, which my doctor said was a very fast recovery.
During my recovery, I felt so lonely. I couldnít do anything but sit around and watch daytime television while all my friends were at school. I had to stay home for almost 3 months. I had to have a tutor as well, and I wasnít allowed to sleep on my stomach.
But one of the benefits of getting this surgery done was that I gained an inch in height. I also got to miss gym class for the rest of the school year. I had to learn how to walk again, and also how to climb the stairs. But now my scar is healing well, Iím taller, I have no problem walking or running, and I donít hurt as much.
My advice to girls who are getting spinal fusion is not to worry about it. It may seem a bit drastic, but itís worth it in the long run.