Scoliosis: Mary's Story

Mary has 3 siblings, 2 brothers and 1 sister and they live in America, Mary was diagnosed with Scoliosis when she was just 10 years old, I was 11 years old when I was diagnosed so I know exactly how Mary was feeling when she learnt that she required spinal surgery and all the hopes and dreams that seem to come tumbling around your life, my surgery was carried out in the UK.

Mary had a 75º curve compared to me with a 76º curve, we were very similar in age and curvatures, we were both diagnosed with idiopathic adolescent scoliosis.

Mary was very scared when she was told that she had Scoliosis, she would break down in tears at the very thought of scoliosis surgery, woindering if she would even be able to go through with the surgery, I am sure we are familiar with the words "why me?"

Gregory White MD - Phoenix Children's Hospital
"Scoliosis is a curvtaure and a rotational deformity of the spine, if the curve had gone un-treated then it eventually would have progressed to the point where it would have caused severe pain and ultimately could have been fatal"

Mary was fitted with a brace (unlike me) that she had to wear for 16 hours a day, she wore this for nearly 5 years! Mary was teased at school about her brace, school kids telling her she looked weird and she was crooked (I know about this all too well, I was poked and proded, I think the other kids thought I was made of something different to them!), this is a big part of living with scoliosis and one of the reasons I created the scoliosis support group, so I can help people like Mary live with Scoliosis and face the bullies at school enabling them to move on with life.

It was very hard on the family while Mary was facing Scoliosis surgery and in fact Mary's parents have said "this is one of the most challenging moments we have had in our 27 years of marriage"

Mary was scheduled for surgery 5 years after being diagnosed, unlike myself Mary was fitted with screws and small bones of the spine that go from the back of the spine past the spinal cord into the front of the spine, allowing Mary's Dr to un-rotate the spine effectively, however, the risks involved with Scoliosis surgery include paralysis and neuroloigic injury, Scoliosis surgery is not an easy surgery and those facing surgery should have no illusions that it will be easy surgery, it is very difficult, long and involved.

I did not have screws and bone fragments, I was fitted with a Harrington rod from T5 to L1.

After Mary came out of surgery Dr White was very pleased with the results of her surgery and said she had even set a personal best for Dr White, Phoenix Hospital provided Mary with the care and attention she needed during and post scoliosis surgery.

Mary has recovered very well after her surgery, and is now running on the track, playing badmin, doing gymnastics, going out with her friends and feeling normal again, Mary says she feels "free" and can do whatever she wants.

If Mary had not undergone this surgery her story may be something quite different!

Phoenix Children's Hospital
Phoenix Children's Hospital is Arizona's only licensed children's hospital, providing world-class care in more than 40 pediatric specialties to the state's sickest children. Though Phoenix Children's is one of the 10 largest freestanding children's hospitals in the country, rapid population growth in Arizona means the Hospital must grow as well. Phoenix Children's recently announced a $588 million expansion plan to bring its special brand of family centered care to even more patients and families. The plan includes a significant upgrade of the Hospital's current campus, an aggressive physician recruitment effort, and new satellite centers in high growth areas of the Valley.


tiz said…
hey, u commented me a few wks ago, after i asked to be part of yur blog! my email address is my blog is
Simone Icough said…
Hola Tiz

I decided I would reply opn the blog so others could see it too.

Did it hurt a lot? (well, you'd probably say DUH!)
Is it better than wearing a brace?
Did it stop you from doing things u used to do, eg: dancing?

Yes it did hurt, I was drugged up to the eyeballs but I cannot lie to you and say "ahhh you won't feel a thing", it is back surgery, of course it will hurt ;)

However, providing your pain relief is tailored to your needs you will not be sat in agony all day every day, majority of your post surgery care you will be asleep!

I never had a brace, my Scoliosis had gone too far and bracing would not have helped, my scoliosis was 76º thoracic, my rods are now from T5 to L1.

Yes it stopped me from doing certain activities, such as trampolining, I loved that when I was a child and I can no longer go near one.

I also love dancing but this plays bloody murder on my back and if I go out dancing I know the price I will have to pay.

However, I have a harrington rod and this is no longer used due to the problems they now know it causes. The harrington rod causes a loss of the lumbar lordosis.

Speak soon and welcome to the clan :)

Dr Stitzel said…
Genetic Pre-disposition + Environmental Influences = Idiopathic Scoliosis

Metaphorically, it could be described in terms of toothpaste being squeezed out of a tube.(Pictured below) The genetic pre-disposition would be the equivalent of how tightly the cap is screwed on; The environmental influence is how hard the hand is squeezing the tube; and the amount of toothpaste being ejected out of the tube is the resulting combination of both the cap tightness and the pressure from the squeezing hand.

Armed with this basic understanding of scoliosis of spine, it is readily apparent that one must alter either the patients genetic pre-disposition and/or eliminate the environmental influences prior the curvature becoming progressive and bio-mechanically driven.

Find out more about environmental risk factors at

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