This I Believe

Amanda - Brentwood, Tennessee
Entered on November 29, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: illness

I believe in the silver lining, but for me the silver lining comes through the two titanium rods and twenty-four screws in my back. When I was four years old, I found out I had scoliosis, curvature of the spine. From this time on, I went to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital every six months to check on my back. When I was eight years old, I grew three inches in six months and because of this significant and sudden increase in my height, I also had a major growth in the curve of my spine. My spine became so curved that I was forced to get a Boston back brace, a fiberglass brace that goes from the top of the chest to the bottom of the torso. I wore this brace for sixteen hours every day for seven years, until I was told that my spine had become so curved, my back was getting closer and closer to a 90° angle. It was June 2006 when I found out that I would have to have spinal fusion surgery.

On December 13, 2006, I had back surgery. Two twenty-four inch titanium rods and twenty-four screws corrected my curve. Everything was going perfectly as planned. I went home after a week’s stay in the hospital and was healing nicely. Then, one day two weeks after surgery, I got sick. With an extreme pain in my side, I was rushed to the emergency room and awaited another week long stay in the hospital. I was “that patient,” the one that perplexed all of the doctors and the one that all of the medical residents and interns got to poke. For that one week, I was the kid with the unsolvable mystery. But because it appeared as though I was getting better, I went home. However, four hours after leaving, I was back in the emergency room. Finally, the doctors figured out that my right lung had collapsed. After a surgery which drained the liter of fluid out of my lung and another week long stay in the hospital, I went home.

Now, it has been seven months since surgery, and I am healing perfectly. For the first time in eight years, I can stand up for long periods of time without my back hurting, wear tight clothes without my back looking deformed, and carry on just like any other sixteen year old. This experience was an unforgettable one to say the least, but it is one that has made my life better in more ways than one can imagine. First, I am no longer a “normal teenage girl.” I see things through a whole new perspective because of the hardships I underwent with my back. While going through surgery, I didn’t think there could have been a worse experience, but now that it is all said and done, I would do it again in a heartbeat. Although I now set off metal detectors in the airport, I am stepping back into my “normal world” by participating in cheerleading again at my high school. The silver lining in this situation was often hard to see, but it has changed my life in many ways, including my future. Soon, I will graduate high school and begin studying to become a pediatric nurse at a hospital. I will work on the surgery floor and take care of patients who are just like I was.