Stories of Care - Patients

A headshot of Mady
MacKid Mady

Standing Tall after Back Surgery

"Regaining a sense of independence and control was really important to me.”
May 11, 2021

The pain kept getting worse and Mady couldn’t figure out what was causing it. In 2019, 14-year-old Mady from Acton realized that something was seriously “off” in her back.

“It was hard to sit comfortably in school and my back hurt whenever I had to stand for a long period of time,” says Mady. “Then a friend noticed a strange curvature in my back. I was worried that it might be something serious, so I saw my family doctor.”

The cause of the pain

An X-ray revealed that Mady had scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine, which was already quite advanced. If left untreated, scoliosis can worsen to the point where even walking and standing are unbearably painful. The condition can also lead to breathing issues along with serious heart and lung damage.

After consulting with orthopedic specialists at McMaster Children’s Hospital, Mady was told that a surgical correction was needed.

“It was too late to try bracing and the curvature would keep getting worse if I didn’t have an operation,” explains Mady. “I had a hard time processing that I’d need major back surgery. I felt really overwhelmed and it felt like my life was over.”

Without surgery, the curvature of Mady’s spine would continue to worsen, resulting in even worse pain and difficulty with mobility.

“The pain was affecting every aspect of my life. I just wanted the pain to stop and I wanted to live a normal life again.”

Serious surgery

In February 2021, Mady had rods implanted into her back to help straighten her spine. The 12-hour procedure also involved flattening her shoulder blades and aligning her ribcage, which were displaced due to pressure from her spinal curvature.

“The amazing nurses and physiotherapists helped me a lot during my 12 days in the Hospital after surgery,” recalls Mady. “They taught me to sit up on my own and learn how to walk again. Regaining a sense of independence and control was really important to me.”

After discharge, Mady wore a neck brace to keep her neck in alignment as she continued recovering at home.

“It felt great being able to stand up straight,” she says. “And on top of that, I’m now two inches taller!”

Looking forward

Mady visits McMaster Children’s Hospital for follow-up appointments and scans to ensure that her back is healing properly. She continues to gain strength and her pain is decreasing as time goes on.

“I can’t say enough good things about the doctors, nurses and staff who cared for me. They were so patient and kind. Thanks to them, I’ll be able to pursue my dream of traveling the world in the future.”

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