Jun 30, 2020 / Scoliosis & Spine
Share Your Story: I am Titanium
Meet Mallori, a patient seen by our spine experts. Learn more about her journey below.
Blog written by Mallori, of Joshua, TX.
Hey everyone! I am so excited to be able to share my story. My journey began when I was 14 years old and in the 8th grade. My school nurse was checking everyone for scoliosis – I just had to bend over and touch my toes. At that time, I barely knew anything about scoliosis. She told me that my spine looked curved and that I needed to see a doctor. I was not expecting to hear her say that!
She sent a note home with me from school and called my parents. It was at that point that my life took a big turn. I had always been involved in strenuous tumbling and acrobatic sports, like dance, competitive gymnastics and cheerleading. When I found out that I might have scoliosis, my immediate thought was that maybe all of these activities had caused me to have a curved spine. I was also concerned that I might not be able to do these activities anymore.
My pediatrician referred us to Scottish Rite for Children, and I had my first appointment in July 2015. I was intimidated by hospitals, but to my pleasant surprise, this place was more like a children's museum than a hospital. The popcorn machine is the first thing that caught my eye. I met with my current doctor, Dr. Ramo, and he showed us my X-rays and officially diagnosed me with scoliosis. My "S" curve measured about 50 degrees and 37 degrees. He informed us that I could keep doing cheerleading and that it was actually good for my spine to stay active. He also explained that since I was already done growing, spinal fusion surgery was a possibility.
I was able to continue doing cheerleading and just had to come back to Scottish Rite for yearly checkups. I tried to not let scoliosis really affect me during high school. My pain was minimal, and I think that is because I stayed so active. I had my heart convinced that I would never have to have surgery, but at my checkup in 2018, we learned that my curves had progressed about five degrees and would likely continue to progress through the years. I was unhappy, but Dr. Ramo reassured us that surgery was ultimately our decision. I still told myself that I was not going to have surgery.
By the time I was a senior in high school, I realized that my back just did not feel right. I grew insecure of my curve and tried to hide it as much as possible - which was difficult in a tight-fitting cheer uniform. At that point, I knew that surgery would be the best thing for me, and I would regret not having it. Plus, I did not want my body to grow more misaligned and suffer from pain in my adult years. My mom scheduled my surgery for July 16, 2019. As soon as I found out the date, I cried. I was terrified.
The months leading up to my surgery I wanted to do as much as possible. I finished cheerleading, did as many back flips as I could and tried to mentally prepare myself for what was next. When the day arrived, my curves measured 55, 51 and 47 degrees. I was super nervous, but everything went perfectly. My surgery with Dr. Ramo took about six and a half hours and I gained 19 screws, two titanium rods and I even grew an inch and a half!
I am about nine months post-op and I am in college and working. My favorite thing in the world is to give advice to other people who are facing scoliosis surgery. I even keep a blog and an Instagram account where I write all of my best tips and encouragement. I don't know how to thank Scottish Rite or all of the wonderful people who made my journey easier. My reliance on God and confiding in the people I love helped carry me through this crazy adventure. Dr. Ramo, my pre-op nurse, David, and Child Life specialist, Morgan, all helped me overcome my fears and made me feel brave.
I believe that Scottish Rite is a place of impact.
Without them, the most meaningful part of my life would have never happened. They taught me many lessons, molded me to become stronger and guided me along a journey I will remember forever. I AM TITANIUM!