I was in the fourth grade at a yearly physical when my doctor noticed the slight curve in my spine. My doctor recommended getting an MRI to confirm that I had scoliosis. Not only did I have it, but it was a 30 degree curve. Knowing that getting a brace was the best option, we checked out that idea and I ended up wearing a brace for almost two years. In sixth grade, my curve had almost doubled. While at an appointment with Dr. Skaggs, he delivered the news that I needed to get the surgery. At this point my curve was 50 degrees and I was almost relieved to get surgery because it meant I no longer had to wear the brace. I would be getting my surgery in a few short months. I was terrified because I did not know that many people who had gone through the surgery and I really wanted to talk to someone in person about it. I was excited to finally be able to fix this issue, but I was nervous because I did not know exactly what to expect. I remember waking up at 5 a.m. and going to the hospital on the day of my surgery, being extremely nervous. They took my blood, made sure everything was ready, and gave me the medicine which made me very loopy. And the last thing I remember was watching TV in the waiting room and I would soon be waking up from surgery about 4 hours later. I remember waking up with my mom by the bed and she was so happy to see that everything went perfectly during surgery and so was I. I would spend the next 5 days in the hospital with friends and family constantly visiting and comforting me. All of the nurses were very sweet, helpful and I even had my favorites that I really bonded with throughout the 4 days. After my time at the hospital, I would spend less than 6 weeks at home recovering from the surgery. The recovery process was not fun or easy, but it went by pretty fast and smoothly with the help of friends and family. Before I knew it, I would be in class with my friends just like before as if nothing changed. Overall, I'm very glad I got the surgery and I would definitely recommend anyone in the same position I was in 3 years ago to do the same.
During my yearly physical in seventh grade, my doctor told me that she noticed a slight curve in my spine. When I took an X-Ray a couple months later, I found out that my "slight curve" was a 41º curve. I was shocked my curvature was that severe because I never felt any back pain nor was it physically noticeable unless you really examined my back. Dr. Skaggs' first recommendation was to wear a back brace, so my family and I went to the back brace specialist, Dr. Lerman in Beverly Hills. Within weeks my all white back brace was ready and I wore it throughout most of seventh grade, while I was going to monthly check-ups with Dr. Skaggs. The purpose of wearing the back brace is to prevent the curvature from progressing and to maintain the current appearance of the back, it does not correct the curvature in any shape or form. From the minute I first wore and tightened the back brace, I knew it was going to be unbearable. I was supposed to wear it extremely tight for 23 hours per day. I was having the hardest time breathing, balancing, and it restricted me from the ability of controlling my body movements throughout the day. If my foot caught on something, I would not be able to hold my ground or regain balance and I'd completely fall onto the ground. This happened many times at lunch (in front of a lot of people) when I'd trip on a backpack strap, it was actually pretty funny. Please email me if you have any questions about bracing (or any questions for that matter), I understand that they're very controversial and I would be happy to help you in every way possible! In some cases, wearing a back brace helps the scoliosis from worsening, however, it did not stop my curve from increasing to 44º. Dr. Skaggs recommended that I quit wearing the brace, because it typically only helps curves in the twenty to thirty degree range. Desperately using the 6º I had left until my curve hit the surgery mark, I started doing new methods to help prevent surgery. I was swimming to strengthen my back, seeing a chiropractor every other weekend, and hanging from an exercise bar to straighten my spine. Even with all of this, my curve increased to 49º (one degree below surgery mark). My parents and I used the one degree left as hope that surgery may not be needed and used it as my last chance to swim, see my chiropractor, and use the exercise bar as frequently as possible. None of our efforts stopped my curve from increasing to 55º. It was decided early in my eighth grade year that I was going to have spinal fusion surgery at Children's Hospital Los Angeles by Dr. Skaggs on April 12, 2016. I felt in denial and upset, but I also realized that I would need the surgery at some point in my life and I'd rather get it done now than when I'm older. More specifics of how I felt and how the surgery went is described in the "Surgery Process" section of this website. I spent one month recovering from the surgery and resting. Most of the first week was spent painfully at the hospital. The rest of the four weeks I recovered and adjusted at home, and by my fourth week I only felt stiffness. Thankfully, my friends and family were there to support me every step of the way. This is outstanding progress, considering I only had my surgery a couple of months ago. Some days it can ache worse than others, but it all really depends on how cautious I am of how I'm taking care of my back. I believe that my back will improve and strengthen with time. Currently, I am having an amazing, relaxing summer with no back pain nor difficulties. There are many talented orthopedic surgeons out there, but I felt very safe with Dr. Skaggs and his team. I am more than pleased with the results, so I'd like to thank them for doing such an outstanding job and treating me with care!
Six years ago, when I was 8, my pediatrician told me that I had scoliosis a disease that makes your spine look like an S. That was pretty much the only explanation I had gotten at the time because the doctor thought it could either get a lot worse or just stay at a small degree for the rest of my life. But, she recommended that we should see Dr. Boden, a surgeon who specializes in scoliosis. We made an appointment to go see him. He confirmed the scoliosis and decided that we should wait and see if it progressed before I went to Dr. Lerman, the back brace specialist. My family friend has scoliosis, too, and they went to another doctor, Dr. Skaggs. They said that he was an amazing doctor and surgeon, so we switched and found him way more helpful. Eventually, Dr. Skaggs recommended getting the brace, so my mom and I went to go see Doctor Lerman and he made me my all white brace. It took a few weeks to get it and when I first put it on I didn't mind it, but after an hour or so it made my back really sore and it got kinda hard to breathe. But, my mom always encouraged me to keep it on as long as possible so I wore it for all 23 hours everyday for about a year. When I went back into Dr. Skagg's office they took an X-Ray and saw that my main curve degree got smaller but I got a second curve in my neck from the brace and had to stop wearing it over that summer so it didn't get worse. When the summer ended, I had to get a new brace. And this time I chose an all black brace and slacked off way more with wearing it because Dr. Skaggs told me I would probably have to get the surgery either way. When I was told that my back had progressed to 54º, it wasn't really a shock but it was crushing. The morning of my surgery I had to wake up super early and drive out to Children's Hospital of L.A. I tried to not be nervous because I knew everything would be okay, but it was hard not to be. I was about to have major spinal surgery! Eventually a nurse came to my bed and asked if I was nervous, I lied and said no but she could obviously tell, my heart rate was over 70 beats per minute. So she came back in about 5 minutes later and gave me something for my anxiety which made me really loopy but took care of all my worries before I could start freaking out. My surgery was only 3 hours, which is really short and everything went perfectly. Later that day, the nurses got me to stand up and walk to a chair across the room. The next day I had passed the physical therapy and was almost ready to go home. On the third day, the doctors wheeled me out to my car and my mom drove me all the way home where I got in bed and slept through the whole day. For the three days that I was in the hospital, I could hardly eat anything. Whenever I would try to, I would just throw up and it was a terrible feeling because it was hard to move so soon after the surgery but eventually it got better. Everyday I would go on walks with my mom until I lost my breath which wasn't that long, I tired very easily. Now I'm about 5 months out of surgery and I hardly notice the rod in my back. It's really funny to talk to other people that had the surgery and what we experienced with it. I'm so glad I got the surgery when I did because it's easier to do everything after the few short months so I'm all ready for summer!
I had just had my yearly physical for my 4th grade school year. My pediatrician observed that I had a minor curve in my spine, like an S. My doctor said not to worry, but I should go an Orthopedic Surgeon that specialized in backs to have my spine checked. My first appointment was with a local physician. After a series of X-Rays it was confirmed that I had scoliosis. For six months, I saw the local orthopedic surgeon and within that time my curve went from 21 degrees to 30 degrees. During all the doctor appointments and my family and I trying to figure out what was best for me, a family friend recommended that I see Dr. David Skaggs at CHLA. My parents made an appointment and soon I was sitting in Dr. Skaggs office. Dr. Skaggs scheduled an MRI and X-Rays to see if I had scoliosis and to what degree. He confirmed that I did have scoliosis. He spoke to my family about the basics of what scoliosis is and how it is corrected and my option of wearing a brace. We discussed using a back brace, but ultimately I chose not to with my parents support.
I saw Dr. Skaggs every 6-8 months for a check–up to monitor my curve. Unfortunately, with each visit my curve was gradually increasing. In the middle of my 7th grade year I had a check up and my curve was at 50 degrees. Dr. Skaggs, my family and I decided it was time for surgery, a spinal fusion. Surgery was scheduled the early morning of March 17th. St. Patrick’s day! I woke up at 5 in the morning. I was very nervous because I did not know what to expect. On the way to the hospital all I could think about was waking up in about six hours knowing that I would not have scoliosis anymore. The nurses gave me a gown and I sat on a hospital bed. Then the nurses gave me a small drink to help me relax. The drink made me very calm. All I remember after the drink was being wheeled into the surgical room.
Six hours later I was in the recovery room with my parents and then shortly after I was taken to my hospital room. I felt stiff, sore and a little irritated, but I had no pain. Throughout the time in the hospital, family and friends would come visit and that made me very happy. I also had therapy dogs! The therapy dogs were awesome!!! The dogs would walk along side me and before I knew it my therapy was done. They really motivated me to walk up and down the halls. I spent four days in the hospital. Right before I left they made sure everything was normal. They took out my IV’s which did not hurt at all. The nurse put me in a wheel chair and wheeled me to the car. As soon as I got home, I was so happy to get in my own bed and see family and friends. This past April I had my one-year post surgery check-up with Dr. Skaggs. My back feels great and I have no limitations. Dr. Skaggs was very pleased with my check-up and he gave my a thumbs up to move on. Hats off to Dr. Skaggs for being an amazing doctor/surgeon and being so supportive throughout my journey. Also, a big thank you to Alison, Elaine and all the staff at CHLA. They are the best! If you have any questions or want more details about my journey please contact me.