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news item News Wednesday, April 17, 2019 Wednesday, April 17, 2019 11:08 AM - Wednesday, April 17, 2019 11:08 AM

Changing goals to heal a curved spine

Every child one day grows up and enters adulthood full of aspirations and dreams. Some dream of being a firefighter, policewoman, doctor, teacher, nurse, journalist, actor, scientist, military personnel; the list goes on and on. No matter the dream, they are all big and life-size.

At a young age, Maci dreamed of growing up and joining the military so she could give back to her country and fight for the greater good. Starting out young, she worked hard and trained long. The goal was in sight and nothing could stand in her way!

During an annual sports physical when she was a teenager, Maci’s pediatrician mentioned that her spine had a small curve. As Maci continued to grow, the curve grew as well. She started to experience back and shoulder pain, but did not think it was due to her curved spine. At the age of 16, Maci was in a car accident. Following the accident, X-rays revealed how severe the curvature of Maci’s spine had become.

Maci was excited to be nearing the age when she could join the military. After successfully completing the required testing, she went to have her medical exam. However, immediately after her medical exam she was notified that due to the severity of her scoliosis, she would not be able to further pursue admission.

Maci was devastated and knew the time had come to seek treatment for her scoliosis. She contacted Shriners Hospitals for Children Medical Center — Lexington, and an appointment was made with Vishwas Talwalkar, M.D., pediatric orthopaedic surgeon.

"To describe the care that I received from Dr. Talwalkar and Shriners Medical Center, the first three words that come to mind are caring, attentive and passionate,” said Maci. “Everyone who provided me care genuinely was passionate about their career and cared for me as an individual, as well as my story.”

Maci was informed that in order to correct the curvature of her spine she would need to undergo a spinal fusion surgery. This surgery involved permanently connecting two or more vertebrae in the spine using metal plates, screws or rods, in order to eliminate motion between the vertebrae that were being fused together. This news came as a complete shock, accompanied by many fears.

“Dr. Talwalkar put my mind, and the minds of my family members and friends at ease, while still being very informative and real about the procedure. He prepared me for exactly what to expect,” Maci stated. “He provided the best medical care I have ever experienced.”

Maci was 18 years old at the time of the spinal fusion surgery, and in the middle of her freshman year of college. In order to not fall behind in her studies, she enrolled in online courses that she could take while recovering at home. To this day she remains a strong student, majoring in business administration.

“I am so happy that I had this surgery. Not only am I stronger than I have ever been one year later, but I also have a more positive self-image,” exclaimed Maci.