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19 Years Rust Free

I have been standing upright for 19 years now. How's that you say? I have had scoliosis my entire life. Started out with a small, teeny curve in my spine that was noticed when I was 8. No need to worry they told my parents. Fast forward 5 years when we were living in Great Lakes, IL (and since no one but Navy brats know where that is, we'll just say Waukegan, IL). My 8th grade teacher, Ms. Burger (with the really tight curly perm that was super duper blonde to the point of hey? is that bleach? whatever it is can't be good for her hair) noticed that I was sitting leaning to left. I would tilt my head to the right to compensate and really, it was over compensating. My elementary school just started back screenings that year. I was the first one where the nurse said to get my parents on the phone right. now.

My parents took me to Gunderson Hosp in LaCrosse, WI (my first introduction to LaCrosse) and the doc there said that he could do the surgery but not the follow up because he would be leaving for private practice. He suggested the following places and my dad decided where I was going.

***Mayo Clinic - sounds like a great plan except that I would be 6+ hours away from my parents and my Gramma was getting up in age where you just would never expect her to make that 4 hour drive even though, bless her heart, she said she would.

***Children's Hospital in Chicago - perfect location! 45 minutes from us! All is good except a man my dad worked with lost a 2 yr old boy because someone wasn't paying attention to how much anesthesia he was getting. That knocked CHC off the list.

***Children's Hospital - Milwaukee - We went with this one. An hour away, my friends could come visit and my doctor there? Genius. Pure genius.

Dr. T took a look at me and said I needed surgery. Um ok. No. I don't like knives and I really don't like ones that are cutting me. This was in Oct. He said if I didn't have the surgery, by Christmas I would be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. For.ever. Ok, sign me up.

Keep in mind that I was a freshman in high school, at a school where I was terrified my entired high school career that I was going to piss off a gang member or something (cause no one could ever figure out what set them off all the time) and it was hard for me to try and keep the friends I was making and stay caught up with homework. Not fun. However, a couple friends of mine that I had only met when school started a couple months before, they "borrowed" their sister's car and drove out of state to come see me. On a school day. With no license. AND they smuggled in some delicious food.

I had two titanium steel rods put in to straighten me out as best they could. I had a small curve at the top of my spine and a 74 degree curve in the middle. That's right. 74 degrees. A lot of people are shocked when I tell them I was up and walking the next day but I also add that my catheter was out and the nurse was taking too long to come back. When ya gotta pee, ya gotta pee. I was doing backbends/bridges a month after surgery. My doctor was displeased and yet proud that I could do that.

So 19 years ago, I became the $100,000 dollar teenager (a lot cheaper really though cause of awesome military insurance and by cheaper you know I mean financial not personally though I have been accused of that and hold on here, this is a hell of a run on sentence. Sorry). I can't believe it's been so long since it happened. Sometimes it seems like yesterday.


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