Facebook Logo Twitter Logo Youtube Logo Instagram Logo Linkedin Logo

Bernadette Santoro

Peekskill, NY
  • Bernadette Santoro in the photo 1
  • Bernadette Santoro in the photo 2
  • Bernadette Santoro in the photo 3
  • Bernadette Santoro in the photo 4
  • Bernadette Santoro in the photo 5
  • Bernadette Santoro in the photo 6
  • Bernadette Santoro in the photo 7

About 10 years ago, just before New Years Eve, I noticed a bump on the left side of my back... I had just lost about 35 pounds and, my back being chubby before,I  had never noticed it before. I wanted to wait until after the holiday, but at my husbands insistence, I had an exam at my local orthopedist office . To my complete surprise, I was informed by the x-ray technician and doctor that I had scoliosis. At that time, other than the bump, which was actually my rib cage, I had no symptoms. My life had been quite normal and I had been very active working at our various businesses-- a deli, party store, and taking care of my grand kids! I was also involved in country line dancing a couple of times a week. We were hiking with a group from our neighborhood on Saturdays and I was also ice skating 3-4 times per week. My diagnosis was a total surprise! I was 44 degrees at that time.

Fast forward to 2015... For the next 9 years, I did everything in my power to put off surgery. Chiropractic, utilizing 3 different methods, regular, atlas orthogonal, and another method specifically created for scoliosis. Three different pilates locations with 3 different methods. Finally a member of our heath club recommended HSS. I finally made an appointment. It was under the care of Dr. James Wyss that I began the Schroth method for about one year. From the beginning of this journey to the day of my surgery, my scoliosis increased to 66 degrees! I was now having difficulty walking as well as carrying things. I could not hold my great granddaughter for more than one minute, unless I was sitting. I could not hold myself up straight for more than a few seconds, and that was utilizing all my core muscles. I was still doing my Schroth exercises and many of the other exercises that I had learned from all of the other providers. A very interesting stew of workouts! I was also doing planks and still skating about twice a week.. Trying my best to keep up my strength, for whatever was to be. My last stop was Dr. Matthew Cunningham. Looking at all of my health records and telling him of my journey, Dr. Cunningham thought that I was a good candidate for scoliosis surgery. But at my age there was a limited window during which he was comfortable doing this extensive surgery. Dr. Cunningham's demeanor and his expertise, made me so confident that I would do well. I went for it! The night before the surgery, I told my family that I felt like I was going to be jumping out of a plane, skydiving (I'm terrified of heights!), but I was doing it anyhow. I had no choice, if I wanted to live the active and vibrant life that I had been used to living.

That was October 12th, 2015. The surgery was long. One week at HSS and 2 weeks in rehab - I went from a walker to a cane in 3 weeks. By Thanksgiving I could walk without a cane. The recovery was difficult for the first 3 months, but with the support of family and friends I worked through it. Fortunately on pain meds for only about 2 months, which was great! Pt outpatient helped as well as home exercises. Soon, I was out and about in my own. The first time I drove myself to the supermarket was amazing and the next solo outing was driving myself down to Elmsford to visit my Weight Watchers group and co workers! It felt so good! I was back!! I was shopping in the malls in December and back to work in February.

It will be one year in a couple of weeks and I can't wait to see Dr. Cunningham on October the 13th for my one year checkup. I can't wait to tell Tina, his office assistant and Brenda his PA all about my recent trip to Italy and walking miles up and down hills in the ancient towns of Tuscany and all around Venice, even enjoying a wild water taxi ride and the crowning achievement of climbing the leaning tower of Pisa! I cannot wait to get on the ice again! I just visited my friends at the rink and they can't wait to have me join them again. Oh, by the way, doing spin classes twice a weeks at our local gym... Looking forward to the next adventure .. maybe hiking again?...whatever life has in store for me. An added benefit is that I am 2 and 1/2 inches taller and stand up so straight!! Looking great in all my clothes! HSS truly gets you back in the game!!!!!

I would be happy to talk to anyone who is considering this surgery and hopefully give them some helpful advise. I was fortunate to have been able to speak with and meet one of Dr. Cunningham's former patients and she was invaluable in my decision-making process. Also for reference, the picture of me near the large chess pieces was taken in 2007 before my scoliosis became apparent. The picture of me at the beach just before my surgery in 2015.