I believe that if I am determined to accomplish something, then I can do it. All I need to do is never give up on it, no matter how hard things get. I used to be submissive and never fought my own battles, but over the past few years I have learned the power of determination.
I grew up in Nome, a rural Alaskan village with few people and even fewer doctors. This had not been a problem until one day, while working in my family’s restaurant, a customer told me she thought I had scoliosis. I was 13 at that time, and didn’t know what scoliosis was. I forgot about it, but about a year later I noticed my back was worse than it had been. It was very uncomfortable and I thought it looked weird. I made my mom take me to the hospital. Dr. Lu told us that a specialist would come up from Anchorage, but that never happened.
The next summer, my two sisters and I went to Houston to meet family. I realized that I could see a real doctor there and finally figure out what was happening to me. I got x-rays and was shocked by how crooked my spine was. Six months later, I went back to get a second x-ray to determine whether or not my curvature had progressed. I knew they had. It was getting more painful and I no longer wore tight shirts to avoid embarrassment. Both of my curves had moved eight degrees and I needed surgery, but my family could not afford it.
Luckily, one of my mom’s friends told her about the Shriners, a free children’s hospital that specialized in scoliosis surgeries. I went through the same six month process with them, and they also decided that I needed surgery. Consequently, I was put on a year long waiting list and was told I could have it in June or July of the following summer. That whole year I worked out constantly so I would be in great physical shape for the surgery.
June passed and I had not received the four-week notice for the surgery. I became worried. My spine had only grown worse and it was not difficult to lift, bend, or stand for long periods of time without stabbing pain. I called the Shriners and spoke to Roberta, the secretary. “I need the surgery this summer,” I told her. “I have planned my whole graduation on this.”
“Sorry, but the doctor has no openings until January,” replied Roberta. Instead of accepting this, I asked a doctor from Nome to call them and explain my situation.
On July 21st I had the surgery. Now I am at school and two inches taller. I am no longer in pain and I will be fully healed in five months. From this experience I have learned to hold on until the end, and always do for myself what needs to be done.
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