Living with Scoliosis

By Jade McClain
Durham VOICE Intern

I’m Jade McClain and I participate in YO:Durham.

I’ve had fun through this eye-opening experience. Currently I am a sophomore attending City of Medicine Academy here in Durham.

Jade McClain

I was diagnosed with Idiopathic Scoliosis, a spinal deformity, when I was in the 5th grade. My pediatric doctor noticed there was something wrong when she saw that one of my shoulders was a higher than the other causing my left shoulder blade to stick out more than the right.

After taking some x-rays we discovered that I did have scoliosis.

The first recommendation was to wait and monitor it to see if it got worse over time. At my next doctor’s visit, a brace was considered. I was to be fitted for a back brace but the next set of x-rays I took proved that there was no use for it.

In December 2008, I was told that my spinal curve had progressed rapidly and that the only solution was surgery. My initial reaction was to cry.

I will always remember that moment. Spinal fusion is a type of surgery that involves joining, or fusing, two or more vertebrae. The curve usually has to be more than 45 degrees and progressing to be considered for surgery.

Not even hours after I had found out I had to have the procedure, I was busy searching the web for all the personal stories and information from people who had already went through it. I read mostly stories from girls my age and I could definitely relate.

It felt good to know that I was not alone and that I could know what to expect.

On the day of my surgery I was extremely nervous. This was my first surgery and I was only 12 years old at the time. The thought of having surgery and the risks involved scared me, but I knew it would be successful.

The operation was set for July 6, 2009. It took around 10 hours and I was scheduled to only be at UNC-Children’s hospital for a week. But that wasn’t the case.

Whenever someone undergoes a huge surgery, or any operation, the risks must be considered and plans to deal with them if anything goes wrong. Around my fourth or fifth day there, I got an E. coli infection. This caused me to have to have three more surgeries and to gain an extended three-week stay at UNC.

I spent my 13th birthday in a hospital bed watching movies and eating candy. While I was there, I had to essentially learn how to walk all over again.

While at the hospital I met many kids with different conditions. I felt lucky because just when I thought I had had it bad, I saw that what the others were going through as much worse than what I had been experiencing.

Even though it’s been two years, I am still recovering. All in all, it was a good experience.

I now realize how precious life is and how any situation could always be worse. I’m grateful that I had a chance to actually get my scoliosis corrected before it started to cause other health problems.

I think everyone should have an experience in their lifetime that makes them even more appreciative of life and wanting to help others with the same thing they are going through.

I believe it builds character.

3 thoughts on “Living with Scoliosis

  1. Thank you! I really appreciate your comment and I definitely agree. I needed support while I was going through it, so this is only the right thing to do!

  2. Aminata Conteh says:

    Hi Jade McClain,
    My mother and I read your story. While my mother was researching online about scoliosis surgery, since i’m having one this month, she found your story, and showed it to me. Your story was very helpful, and I could relate easily. If you could contact me by email to talk more, that would be great. Thank you so much.
    -Aminata and Mom.

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