My 15-Year Spinal Fusion-versary

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Today is my 15-year spinal fusion-versary. It’s not really the type of thing one celebrates with a cake, I suppose. So here’s a photo of me with my infamous back card celebrating the stainless steel rods that have been decorating my spine for half of my life. That’ll work in lieu of cake, right?


I just got a new laptop a few weeks ago and in clearing some things off of my old one, I found the blog I had to keep as part of my photojournalism class in college (here it is, it’s a hoot: Lightyears Away). So I started browsing it and came across my favorite project for that class: the photo essay I did on surgery scars (seriously, check it out!). That got me thinking about my back brace and my surgery and my back in general and…holy cow, I’m coming up on 15 years here!

I’m not really sure why I feel the need to write about this at every five-year milestone. It certainly had a significant impact on my life then (as a quiet, sarcastic, immature but impressionable 15-year-old) and still does to this day (as a quiet, sarcastic, immature but impressionable 30-year-old). Funnily enough, I actually summed things up pretty well on the 10-year spinal fusion-versary blog post, which was aptly titled Baby, Got Back?.

Everything I wrote about my surgery experience five years ago is exactly how I remember it today (from the surgeons admiring my bruised knees from just finishing my freshman basketball season to log-rolling out of bed very slowly every morning to name a few). And, for the record, I still cannot drink V8 Splash without gagging, warm vanilla sugar-scented anything brings #allofthememories flooding back, and I’ve still never legitimately needed to use my back card (it’s more like a strange conversation piece/wallet swag).

I recently came across article about a young girl in Milwaukee who also has scoliosis (among other complications):
Magnets in spinal rods help girl ‘grow’ without surgery.
The advances in technology that have been made in the last 15 years are simply incredible (though I admit, what she has to go through would freak me out to the core). This story makes me so thankful to have been living near Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin at a time when I needed them and also so grateful for their wonderful orthopedic team (yup, that’s my surgeon quoted in the article!) and nurses who helped me through the whole process. It’s quite a special place that helps so many children day in and day out, and I’m proud to be one of them.

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