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When I was a child, I had a slight case of scoliosis, but it never bothered me. Then I was involved in a car wreck. My neck was injured in the wreck, causing me to need a laminectomy on one disc, then a fusion on another one. These two surgeries provided little relief, and I felt constant and severe pain in my neck. Then, the pain in my upper and lower back began.
My pain management doctor referred me to the Baylor Scoliosis Center. It was the ninth specialty center I visited in several cities ranging from Beaumont and Houston, Texas, to Oklahoma City, Okla. I was so disgusted with the doctors who said that they could not help me. I only kept on trying to find someone to help because my mother kept pushing me, saying that I could not continue living like this. You don't realize how much pain you are in after awhile. You go into survival mode. I am a first grade teacher, and I think that keeping busy and active kept me going and from giving up.
On my first visit, the physician was very aggressive in diagnosing my problem. He took X-rays of my back that showed the double curve I had developed. We discussed the source of my pain and what part hurt the most. After more tests, we decided fusion on my neck was necessary to relieve the horrible headaches that I had constantly.
Next, we did tests and scheduled the scoliosis surgery. I was eager to get this done since the first surgery had made such a difference in my life. By now, my left shoulder was dipping down quite a bit, making my head look crooked all the time. When the photographer took pictures at school he would ask me to sit up straight, and I would say, "which way is that?" (This year I was so happy because my picture looked great. I was normal.)
The night before the surgery, I was nervous but ready. I don't really remember being in the Intensive Care Unit. I only remember two times, once talking to my mother and once to the nurse. My first memories begin after I was transferred to my private room. I really don't remember much pain, just being shocked that I required so much assistance from my nurses. They were very nice about it, though. After a week, I could get up on my own and was moved to the rehabilitation hospital. The nurses and aides were very kind to me there, too. I was anxious to get busy exercising so that I could get home to my family. The days that my children visited me were very special, and I felt so much more energized on those days.
I won't sugarcoat the surgery. It was tough for a while, but I went back to school after eight weeks off and began teaching 18 first graders. Each week I could tell that I had passed a milestone in my recovery. And that was so great.
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