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Holly Ahmed

Ashburn, VA
  • Holly Ahmed in the photo 1

I have severe scoliosis - with a double curve, and twisted like an 'S.' I had surgery at 13 years old in 1981 - at Shriner's Hospital - fusing my upper spine (T1-T12). The lumbar spine was not addressed at that time. Recovery was a breeze. Three weeks post-surgery I was in school, in a body cast (for six months!), no pain.

For 30+ years, I had no problems with my spine: no pain, no restrictions - nothing. In approximately 2012, while living in overseas - out of the blue, my left leg started going numb, with burning white-hot pain in my lower back, hip and thigh. I took a 1984 x-ray to a local orthopedic surgeon in who told me my lower curve was degenerating and needed surgery - and they could not do it.

I moved back to New York in 2013, asked my office med unit where the best orthopedic surgeons were in NYC. They said, 'Hospital for Special Surgery.' I made an appointment w/ Dr. Han Jo Kim, who said the same thing the overseas doctor had said - my lower curve was degenerating and needed fused. I asked about recovery and told him how easy recovery was at 13-years-old. He laughed and said, 'I *promise* you, it will not be that easy this time.'

Surgery was scheduled four months after arriving back in the U.S. I can honestly say, Dr. Kim never lied to me. It took 2+ months until I felt like I might live. At a follow-up appointment, I told Dr. Kim, I could tell I was getting better, to which he replied, 'I am warning you now, this about to get worse again, but once this next phase starts to improve, you will be fine.' Again, he never lied to me. Two days later, the 'get worse again' arrived and took about six weeks to start getting better again.

From that point onward, I healed quickly. Nine months post-surgery, which included removing my old 1981 hardware, twisting my rib cage straighter, fusing my lower spine, then screwing and wiring me all back together (now fused T1 all the way down, anchored to my left pelvic bone), I was in a relatively physically demanding survival class, preparing to go overseas again for a two-month work trip followed by packing out to move abroad 13 months post-surgery.

I went from being in extreme pain while walking or standing when I saw Dr. Kim in 2013 - to six years later, still having no pain. I am stiff - not elegant at all when getting up or down from the floor - but I will take it.