My story began when I was entering 5th grade. After the very standard scoliosis screening, I was referred to a specialist since my spine had concerning curves. As the degree of the curves progressed, I was fitted for the Boston Brace. As if the experience of middle school wasn't already awkward enough, I had to wear the brace for 23 hours a day for three years. Over the course of these three years, my curves continued to progress. Not only did my spine curve, but it was also twisting, which had the potential for some serious complications. By the time I was a freshman in high school, doctors recommended spinal fusion surgery. This was scary, very scary. Not only for me, but for my family as well. There was no one in the world who could convince my mom that her youngest daughter would be better off with a major operation leading to titanium rods and pedicel screws in her back, no one except the comforting and knowledgeable Dr. Bernard Rawlins from the Hospital for Special Surgery.
It was a long and trying road that led us to him. We hospital shopped, shed tears, and had fear and we finally found peace and comfort at HSS. We were greeted with hugs from the nursing staff upon arrival for every visit. Dr. Rawlins was always so thorough, knowledgeable, caring, and reassuring. We knew he was the right doctor to perform my spinal fusion surgery.
On May 14, 2007, Dr. Rawlins and his team proved to be the most competent and compassionate professionals I have ever met. Over the course of several hours, they performed my operation while also reassuring my family that everything was alright. During my nine day stay at the hospital, Dr. Rawlins personally came to check on me several times. The nursing staff was there for me during all hours of the day and night. They even brought me a birthday cake and sang to me on my 21st birthday. Yes, I know, most people do not spend their 21st birthday in the hospital recovering from a major operation. At least they made it enjoyable! Dr. Rawlins and everyone at Hospital for Special Surgery made it possible for me to be a healthy and happy person. Since my surgery, I am able to participate in all of the sports and activities I was able to beforehand and so much more! I am back to snowboarding, running, and even participated in the City to Shore bike ride last year. I love participating in charity runs and can only hope that one day I can partake in one that supports HSS or a scoliosis group!
I strive to stay as healthy and active as possible. To me, it is the least I can do after being given a second chance at a healthy body. Looking at your own x-rays of 70 degree curves and being told your lung capacity will soon be affected makes scoliosis scary. HSS provided me an opportunity to exchange those x-rays for straighter ones and for that, I am eternally grateful. Although I am just one of Dr. Rawlin's thousands of patients, he will always be my number one doctor. I am thankful to him for his medical expertise, support to my family, and calming personality. He is a remarkable man who does so much for many people. He has donated a great deal of his time and resources to his home country of Ghana, so that the children their can also live happy and healthy lives. If we could all strive to adopt his giving personality, this world would be a better place! Thank you Dr. Rawlins and HSS!