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I am 19 years old, a "perfect" student with impeccable posture, and I set off security alarms whenever I enter an airport. I am not a threat to society, but possess the inner core strength of titanium - literally.
For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of becoming a professional dancer. To my dismay, I was diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of 16. I felt as if, in that moment, my personal warranty had expired, and my life was falling apart. Scoliosis could mean surgery, which I feared would not only ruin my ability to become a professional dancer, but maybe even my ability to simply dance.
Over the next few months, I visited many medical professionals to seek treatment options and professional opinions. The Baylor Scoliosis Center gained my respect and trust. From the moment I walked in, through discussions about how scoliosis could affect my medical condition, the staff at the Baylor Scoliosis Center was open and honest with me.
My situation was too serious to ignore. I had a double curvature, and in a mere four months since my first X-ray, my curvatures had progressed 7 degrees! The best option for achieving my goals and maintaining a healthy, functional lifestyle was surgery, as disheartening as it is.
The physician sat down with my family to illustrate how my spine was curving, to explain the severity and health risks associated with scoliosis, and the surgical "game plan." The plan would give me the maximum benefits of correction with the minimum amount of hardware in order to maintain flexibility. The surgery would correct the curvature of the dominant curve. As a result, the other curve would also begin to straighten out to achieve a state of balance.
In June of 2004, six months after my diagnosis, I underwent a four-hour surgery in which four of my vertebrae were fused with spinal instrumentation.
Throughout the course of my surgery and hospital stay, I never felt uncomfortable with the expertise of the medical staff. The medical staff understood my needs and fulfilled them throughout my treatment. One month post-surgery, I was performing simple tasks under the stipulation that I did not rotate my back. Then, I began to perform simple dance exercises. Three months post-op marked a second milestone with increased activities, and at six months, I was released to "fly" without restriction.
Today, I am majoring in dance at a prestigious university as I continue to pursue my dreams. Although my flexibility isn't quite what it was before surgery, I have no regrets. The Baylor Scoliosis Center gave me time - time to live a normal lifestyle free of pain and free of embarrassment. My scoliosis is no longer a significant impediment in the pursuit of my dreams and happiness.
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