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news News Thursday, March 19, 2020 Thursday, March 19, 2020 11:49 AM - Thursday, March 19, 2020 11:49 AM

Rachel’s story: Recovery from spine surgery

Rachel’s story: Recovery from spine surgery

Rachel was at a routine check-up when she was diagnosed with scoliosis. Her pediatrician discovered a 57.1° curve in her lumbar vertebrae and approximately a 26° curve in her thoracic vertebrae. Her parents immediately began doing research in hopes of identifying the best pediatric spine surgeons. After visiting two different hospitals, Rachel and her parents ultimately decided on Shriners Hospitals for Children — Portland.

On July 3, 2018, Rachel underwent a spinal fusion surgery with Michelle Welborn, M.D., to correct the curve in her spine. Following her successful surgery, Rachel began the recovery process on the inpatient unit at the Portland Shriners Hospital. She expressed that she was sad to be missing the Fourth of July festivities. When the hospital staff heard about this, they did everything they could to help her enjoy the holiday!

“After my surgery I was very well taken care of, and all of the staff were incredibly helpful,” said Rachel. “Most of the time, my nurses knew exactly what I needed before I even asked. I had my surgery the day before the Fourth of July, and I was extremely disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to see the fireworks. After the nurses found out, they spent an hour figuring out how to create a temporary setup on the opposite side of the building so that I could watch the fireworks from the window. Everyone at the hospital cared about my needs and they were extremely invested in my comfort. The amount of attention and care that I was given was truly impressive.”

Going into surgery, the biggest concern for Rachel’s mother, Jane, was the recovery process. Her concern was due to past experiences in other hospitals with family members, following surgery. She had witnessed how hospital staff can be overwhelmed during a patient's recovery process. "As a parent, one of my biggest fears was the possibility of needing to advocate strongly for Rachel’s needs,” said Jane, “but with the staff at Shriners, I didn’t need to worry about this at all! Staff members were practically already in the room before we needed them. The care, compassion and sense of humor from the nursing staff really helped us. And, Dr. Welborn was exceptional – not only in her knowledge and skill, but also in her kindness and sensitivity."

After recuperating from surgery, Rachel returned to the Portland Shriners Hospital to undergo physical therapy to help strengthen her back. As a result, Rachel has resumed her favorite hobbies! She loves to roller blade and sing in choir. “It’s pretty scary to hear that you’re going to have to have such a major surgery, and I was really nervous,” said Rachel. “Everyone at Shriners did a really good job at keeping me informed of every detail of the process, which was really helpful for my nerves. Knowing all of the details of the procedure was super calming to me. The staff at Shriners really knows what they’re doing, and it makes the experience a lot less scary than you would think.”

Rachel following scoliosis surgery in hospital bed