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Tierney O. | Scoliosis Patient

When I was 12 years old and in the 7th grade, we discovered I had scoliosis. A lady in my church whose daughter had scoliosis noticed how I was standing and said we should get an appointment as soon as possible. We had noticed that clothes didn’t fit me right, now we knew why. It was because I was crooked!

We went to our doctor who did some x-rays and found that my curve was about 42 degrees. Then we made an appointment with an orthopedic doctor in Kansas City. I didn’t think I would have to have surgery. That wouldn’t happen to me! I was just glad to be out of school.

The doctor looked at me and said that a brace wouldn’t do any good and that I would have to have surgery. Since they don’t do that kind of surgery in Kansas City, we had to find a doctor to do it. I thought my life was over and I cried and cried. My parents started researching and asking around about orthopedic doctors that did this surgery.

Another girl in my town had the same surgery about a year before and we found out that Dr. Lenke had done it and they thought he was great. Everywhere we asked it seemed that Dr. Lenke was one of the very best in the field. We made an appointment for the end of January.

I really liked Dr. Lenke and his staff. They made me feel a lot better about the operation. We scheduled the surgery for the end of July, and sent some more x-rays the end of March to check on the curve. At home, I was always thinking about it. In mid-April, Dr. Lenke’s nurse, Kathy, called and said that my curve was much worse and I that needed to have the surgery as soon as possible. My spine had a 79-degree curve. They had an opening May 1st. When my mom told me, I was crushed! It was less than 3 weeks away.

We had to go to St Louis one week before the surgery for x-rays, breathing tests, and blood work. On April 30th, we left for St. Louis with my cousin and her mom. They were going to spend the day with us and be there the next day for the operation. My grandma and aunt came up, too. We did a lot of things, but in the back of my mind, I was always thinking about my surgery.

We had to get up really early to be at the hospital. They took me and my mom and dad into a little room and before long, they were ready for me. They were very comforting and told me what they were doing all the time. They put a warm blanket and socks on me and then they put the mask on my face and I was out. Five hours later and two and one-half inches taller, I woke up not really sure what was happening. I was really out of it!

I was in ICU for the first night. Either my parents or my grandma or aunt were always with me. The next day, they were ready to move me to a room. The nurses were very nice to me even though I was pretty crabby. But, hey, I had just had surgery! My mom, dad, sister, aunt, and the nurses put up with me and helped me through it. Four days after the surgery, Dr. Lenke asked if I was ready to go home. I started getting up and walking more.

The next day, we started the long drive home. When we got there, I had balloons and signs welcoming me home. I missed 3 weeks of school and then it was summer. I healed pretty fast and got to swim that summer and played soccer that fall, only 6 months after the surgery.

Now, I’m 15 years old and my back is very straight. Dr. Lenke is amazing! I might not be as straight as I am today if someone else had done the operation. I’m glad I had the surgery. I don’t really remember the pain. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.