This is a true story about a 13 year old girl who went through
scoliosis surgery in May 1991. This is her feelings and explanations
about the surgery.
I dedicate this to:
My Mom: for being at the hospital and for going through what I went
My Dad: for helping us through these difficult times.
My brother: for giving me strength.
In sixth grade, when I was 12, I found out that I had scoliosis.
Scoliosis is curvature of the spine. I was really scared and
depressed. I saw my pediatric doctor who steered me in the direction
of another doctor - an orthopaedic doctor. I saw this doctor three
times after I found out that I had scoliosis. I went back for an
appointment and and found out that my curve had reached 54 degrees.
The orthopaedic doctor sent me to Iowa City to see a children's
orthopaedic doctor who treated people for scoliosis. When I found out
that might I have to have surgery, I cried a lot. I saw this doctor,
Dr. Stewart Weinstein, in January. I then learned that I had to have
surgery to straighten my curve. Dr. Weinstein looked at all my past
x-rays, my reports from the other doctors, and my cat scan x-ray. Dr.
Weinstein had me have an MRI done. MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance
Imaging. This is a kind of x-ray that is a three-dimensional film
that gives the doctors more information. My mom had this x-ray done
and she said it was sort of scary. I wasn't too scared until I got
onto the bed that went into the circular machine. The nurse put me
onto a padded cart and strapped me still. Then the nurse pushed me
and the cart into the machine. My mom got to come back with me and
talked to me about my favorite places to be to calm me down. That
helped a lot. The MRI sounds like a jackhammer. Sometimes loud,
sometimes soft, sometimes for long periods of time and sometimes for
short periods of time. There was music playing that took my mind off
After the MRI was finished, my parents and I went back to the
orthopaedic clinic to set a date for the surgery. This was a very
difficult moment for us. It made the surgery seem so real and so
near. Joyce, the secretary, helped us set a date.
I take dance. It is a very important part of life. The recital was
mid May and I couldn't miss it. It was too important to me. We
scheduled the surgery for May 30, 1991. It was after my dance
The next few months were uneventful as far as doctor's
My next greatest hurdle was telling all my family and friends my
news. At first I didn't want anyone to know about my back. I didn't
want them to know what was happening toy body. But after I told my
closest friends, it got easier. Eventually, I told all my friends,
well most of them anyway!
During this time before my surgery, my emotional track ran out of
room! There were so many times when I cried and asked a lot of
questions. But I realized it was all normal. I read a lot of books on
scoliosis and they helped, but I still had a lot of questions. So I
wrote them down, all 52 of them! Questions.
Then it came to my last day at school. I was glad to be out for
the summer but not for this reason. The day was kind of depressing at
times, especially after school when I had to say good-bye to all my
friends. I gave them all hugs and cried a little, but my friends were
real supportive for me. So were my parents.
The next day at Iowa City, the day before my surgery, the nurses
and doctors did a lot of testing on me. They took a sample of my
blood, my temperature, height and weight, and pictures. I saw the
anesthesiologist and Dr. Weinstein. I asked a lot of questions and
answered a lot of questions. There was a lot of waiting and a lot of
worrying, but we made it through the day, my parents and me.
In April and May, I gave my own blood so that when I lost blood
during my surgery I would get my own back. I felt more confident
about doing this although giving my own blood was frightening. I had
to follow a good diet and stay on iron pills to give my blood. Once I
wasn't able to give the blood because my hematocrit in my blood
wasn't in the range where it should be. The people at the blood bank
were really nice and friendly. It helped to have people I liked
rather than people I didn't like sticking me with needles!
In school, I had to do most of my work ahead of time because I
would be gone. I had to make up three tests ahead of time. In P.E.,
the teacher wouldn't let me do things because of giving the blood.
The day of my surgery came. Was I ever scared! A person put EEGs
all over me-on my head and legs. EEGs are little circular things with
colored wires attached to them stuck on with glue. I looked like I
was wired for sound! In surgery the doctors or nurses remove the
EEGs. The purpose of the EEGs is to monitor your nerves around your
spinal cord. After the EEGs were on, I went back to the clinic and
put on these bikini tie-on underwear. I started crying because I was
so scared. A nurse came with a bed to take me to surgery. Before
being wheeled into surgery, I went to a room where I saw the
anesthesiologist and some nurses. My mom got dressed in scrubs to
come back with me to the operating room. I'm glad she did that. I
said good-bye to my dad and off I went into the operating room. This
was the scariest part of the whole surgery I think. The doctors in
the operating room told me everything that they were going to do. A
doctor gave me a shot of novocaine and my mom said think about your
special place. The next thing I knew, I was in my hospital room that
The rods put into my back are actually called CD instrumentation.
CD stands for Cortrel-Dubousset instrumentation.
My mom said that my face was all puffy and my arms, hands, and
practically my whole body was puffy from all the fluids. I could
barely open my eyes. The nurses came in a lot to take vitals. One
thing that helped a lot was the PCA pump. PCA stands for Patient
Controlled Analgesia. All I had to do was push a button and in a
short time the pain relieved. I had an IV going to give me fluids. I
was wearing TEDs - which are elastic supportive stockings to keep my
circulation going well. I had to use a deep breathing device to keep
my lungs clear of excess fluids.
The next two days passed quickly. My friends and relatives came a
lot to see me and made my stay better. I received all four of the
blood units that I had given. I had a catheter in so I didn't have to
get up to go to the bathroom. I got to sit up in a chair on the third
day and was walking on the fourth. I went to therapy on the fourth
and fifth day. At first it was hard to walk, but it got easier and
finally I walked by myself. My parents were so proud and so was I.
The fifth day I got to go home. I was really happy. Even thorough
the car ride home was rough, it was great to get back to my own
house. I had to be extra careful about what I did. I took pain
medication for a while and usually got up during the night at least
once. I grew about an inch and a half to two inches.
As I look back now that it's all over, it wasn't as bad as I had
summed it up to be. It is really hard to hear someone say, "Oh,
you'll be fine, " when they aren't the ones having the surgery, but
at the end, it all works out.
I wrote this book two weeks after the surgery was done and it will
be hard at times when I feel up to doing things but I can't yet. But
right now it was worth having done.
I want to thank all my family and friends who supported me through
these difficult times. It was a hard time to go through, but I made
About the Author
Jamie Nicole Vanourny is a 13 year old girl who had scoliosis
surgery in May 1991. Jamie's favorite things to do are read, dance,
and ski. Jamie is 5'1" and has brown eyes and long brown hair. She
lives with both of her parents, one brother who is 11, and her dog
Buffy. Jamie's birthday is September 24. Jamie's e-mail address is
See how Jamie is doing 11 years after