My name is Ananya and I am 15. I started 10th grade last month. This past summer, I had spinal fusion surgery to correct my scoliosis.
When I was about 12 or 13 my friends started to tease me because they noticed that I lean towards my left side.I always assumed one leg was shorter than the other and I thought that was really cool.
One day in my school swimming class I was getting ready to dive into the water when my friend shouted “Whoa, what’s wrong with your back?”. I asked her to describe what she saw and she said I had a lump on the left side of my back. She was right, when I looked in the mirror that day, one side of my back jutted out more than the other. I didn’t really care or think anything of it then.
In the middle of 9th grade I went to the doctor because of a sprained shoulder and when I asked him about my back – just to check, he said I should get an X-Ray. I found it very strange because I didn’t have any terrible pains and I always thought I was perfectly normal.
The doctors told me I had something called scoliosis. This is a condition where my spine curved in the shape of an ‘S’. My twin sister then found out that she had the same condition. We had absolutely no idea what it was. We also found out that we both neededspinal fusion surgery.
I am a competitive swimmer and I was really worried that the surgery would affect my performance. To make it worse the first surgeon we went to told me that I could never do competitive swimming again. I was horrified! No more racing! Just a few days earlier I had no idea what scoliosis was! That day in swim practice I started crying. It was a little embarrassing.Some of the parents started to say “Oh, I’m sure you will get back to swimming” but how did they know?
After I made a huge fuss, my sister and I decided to try physiotherapy instead. I started doing stretching and other exercises every morning. However, when summer came, there was no improvement and surgery was the only option. Luckily Dr. Thomas said that recovery was up to us and I could even start swimming after two months! That made me feel better. We decided to have the surgery during our summer holidays so we would have time to recover.
A week before the surgery I was spending a lot of time in the hospital, getting X-Rays and an MRI and doing all kind of tests.
I thought I was going to get really scared as the date of surgery came closer, but I knew that once I recovered, I would be normal again. I’ll admit I was a little nervous the day before the surgery when I got checked into the hospital but I guess that’s normal.
The morning of the surgery I was taken to the operating theater (OT) in a wheelchair, which I found very funny because I had no problem walking. I had to lie on a bed and they injected something into my intravenous (IV) tube and put a mask on my face.
After that the next thing I remember lying in the pediatric ICU. I imagined that I would have terrible back pain but I actually only felt quite stiff and uncomfortable. The pain was very manageable because of this big green box of painkiller that was injected through IV. I also had this cool button that I could press whenever I wanted more painkiller – of course I was pressing it every 15 minutes but the doctors didn’t have a problem with that. I really liked it when a doctor and a bunch of interns with clipboards came to interview me. I felt like I was on Greys Anatomy!
The pain and stiffness made me a little uncomfortable. I also wasn’t hungry for the first few days, not just because of the hospital food. The only other problem I had was that I couldn’t stay in one position for so long in the night.
I stood up and was able to walk a little a few days after the surgery. Standing for the first time was pretty hard but after a few days it came a bit more naturally.I heard that I would have to learn to walk again and I understood what that meant when I started to walk and didn’t know what to do with my hands.
I soon became used to the routine of eating and sleeping and doing the strange robotic movement that I called walking. It wasn’t particularly fun but after a few days my friends came to visit me in the hospital and that helped take my mind off everything. I was extremely happy to see how much taller I was. Straightening my spine had given me two inches!
After a week I was allowed to go home. For the first week at home I wasn’t allowed to go outside so I spent most of my time watching TV. Initially that wasn’t a problem but eventually it became harder and harder to just sit around all day. When I was cleared to finally walk outside I realized that I got tired very easily. I started walking more and more each day and after about a month I could walk just as much as I could before the surgery. At this time, I was off painkillers and almost had no pain!
When I started getting really bored of walking my friends and I would play Pokemon Go and walk in search of pokemon. But I was still dying to get into the water
At the two-month mark I was finally allowed to swim!The first time I got into the swimming pool I gradually settled myself into the water, I didn’t dive in without a second thought like I used to. The cold water on my skin was such a relief. I knew it would not be very easy to do laps. As I slowly started to swim it felt really stiff but after a few days of trying it became a lot easier.
Before I knew it, it was time to go back to school.
I was extremely excited, sitting at home had made me so bored! The only thing that worried me about school was taking a rolling bag because I couldn’t lift heavy weights. But it isn’t a problem; my friends lift my bag up the stairs and pick up the stationary that I clumsily drop on the ground.
It is more than two months post-op and I cannot do everything yet. I realized that I had taken my ability to do swimming or other exercise for granted and after the wait I have found a new excitement for swimming that I will have forever. I am so glad that I had this surgery because now I feel so much strongerand taller. The doctors did an amazing job.
The story of my spine
I first noticed an abnormal curvature of my spine when I was 13 years old. I met my family doctor who obtained xrays of my spine and informed me and my family that the spine was curved abnormally – a condition called “scoliosis”. However, he suggested not going in for surgery as it would leave me bed-ridden for the rest of my life. This was very scary for me and my family. The second doctor (Bone specialist) I visited, while in college, suggested surgery but I was still very scared and hoped that my spinal curve would stop progressing (worsening).
Living with scoliosis was a horrible experience as people were always curious about it and either laughed and made fun of me or felt sorry for me or ignored me completely. This reaction of people made me withdraw from sports and cultural activities in school and college despite being very interested as I was ashamed about my appearance. It was a very painful experience. Another problem was the difficulty in buying clothes that would cover my back-bone and make it less visible. I experienced discomfort when walking since my shoulders was uneven and had back pain after prolonged sitting and would have breathing problems during exertion.
When I met Dr Thomas Kishen for the first time, I was already 20 years old and my scoliosis had increased to 53 degrees. Dr Kishen explained that the curvature was likely to progress with age and suggested surgery. My family wanted me to get the operation done immediately but I decided not to undergo surgery at any cost and hence my family stopped pressurizing me to have surgery.
I eventually completely my MBA and was got a job in the HR department of a world famous resort. I was initially very happy with my job. However, as the days passed, my colleagues started calling me a “handicapped person” and asked me to fill the disability application form. This incident left me shattered and I resigned after a couple of days.
I met Dr Thomas Kishen again in 2014 (age -23 years) and was shocked to hear that my scoliosis had worsened from 53 degrees to 68 degrees. At this stage, my family encouraged and motivated me to undergo surgery. I browsed the internet and found out how miserable I could become if the curve got worse. Talking to Dr Kishen gave me a lot of confidence and made me mentally strong which I wasn't for ten long years...
Once I was mentally prepared for the surgery, even the numerous blood tests that I had to undergone did not hurt. I used to be very scared to injections and needles in the past. I was admitted to Manipal Hospital, Bangalore on 25th November 2014 in the evening and was a bit nervous but I was ready for it. I was taken to the operating theatre at 7.30 am in the morning and I remember being taken in the wheel chair and lying on a stretcher in the waiting room. Once I entered the operation theatre, an oxygen mask was placed over my nose and face and that is all I remember. I was scared whether I would regain my consciousness since it is a long operation. The surgery was over by 4.00 pm and when I woke up from the surgery I was in the ICU. I experienced a bit of pain but since I was being given lots of pain killers, the pain was not unbearable. The next day doctor made me sit up in bed and that was a bit painful and my whole back felt stiff. I experienced stiffness in my back even while lying down (because of the screws and rods). Soon I was transferred to the ward and from that point of time the pain gradually came down and I kept walking with the help of nurses. I was more comfortable while walking, sitting and standing than while lying down. I was discharged from the hospital on the sixth day and was able to walk and sit comfortably. I was prescribed pain medications to take home when I was discharged from the hospital. I also had a water-proof dressing to cover the surgical area and this allowed me to have a shower/bath.
It is now two weeks since surgery and expect for a little uneasiness while lying down, I have no issues while sitting, standing and walking. The operation scar has healed well and I am very happy with the shape of my back. My confidence has gone sky high I am very glad that I underwent surgery without which my condition would be become worse. I can now wear any type of clothing without worrying about the shape of my back.
I am very thankful to my family for their support and a special thanks to Dr Thomas who performed this life changing operation for me.
We found out that our daughter had scoliosis when she was eight years old. Initially, we thought that the shoulders were not at the same level due to her bad posture. However, as the difference in shoulder levels was increasing, we decided to get an X ray and found out that it was related to the spine.
We visited a couple of hospitals and were confused with the difference treatments suggested (non-operative and post operative procedures). Due to this confusion we wasted close to a year.
We met Dr. Thomas Kishen in the first week of June 2013 and at the first meeting we were convinced with his words and we felt that we had come to the right place. Our daughter was 9 years old and her spine was very visibly curved on the x rays (80 degrees). Dr. Thomas suggested that is was the right time to operate and correct the scoliosis as once the growth spurt starts, it will go out of hand.
We were given an appointment on 20 June 2013 for operation. Two days prior we admitted our daughter to hospital for all required checkups and blood arrangement. On 20 June the operation started at around 11.00 AM and it got completed around 7 PM in the evening. We were amazed to see the correction of the curve and her shoulder level it was so perfect.
Just second day after the procedure she was made to sit and walk and on the fourth day, my child was discharged from the hospital. Post operation recovery was very good, pain was almost zero in spite of the big surgery. It has now been a year and half since the surgery and our daughter has never complained of pain or complication. She has resumed her normal life without any restrictions.
There are no words to thank you for what you did. I discovered that I had scoliosis at the age of 13, I was wearing a brace which I really disliked. But after one year, I decided to have it operated and the doctor here in Mauritius had referred me to you. I was very scared about my decision but for my great surprise after the surgery that you did I was completely straight. And I can do all my activity normal. Today I have the pleasure to give this testimony as I am well and very happy about the work you did. However great thank to you and hoping to meet you again...