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Elyssa's story


This was written in September 2017.


Elyssa is a fun loving adrenaline junkie girl, her love has always been competitive gymnastics, but due to her pain thresholds to has had to move into coaching this past year.


Aside from her beloved gymnastics, she adores all the activities that doesnt bode well for scoliosis; water skiing, trampolining, high ropes & climbing, mountain bikig - she has a zero fear attitude and loves being active.  


Elyssa has always had an amazing attitude to her scoliosis and has put on an extremely brave face throughout the duration of her journey.


2013 - Aged 11


Elyssa fell from a swing hurting her tail bone.  This led to a visit to the osteopath, on her first appointment they pointed out that Elyssa had scoliosis.  As a family, we had no idea what scoliosis was, however, once you know what to look for, I can see looking back at photos (of her head standing :-)), that it was clearly prominent at a young age.


The osteopath sent us for X-rays, her first X-ray showed her thoracic curve of 38 degrees.


We were lucky enough to be put under the care of Dr John Ferguson (Starship Hospital - Auckland) a six hour round-trip drive from home.   Firstly, he suggested bracing and we tried to night time brace, after perserverance with this, 7 months later her curves had progressed to 55 degrees.


Following numerous consultations with the States, Dr John Ferguson suggested VBT.  We agreed that Elyssa would be John's first ever VBT patient (and the first across Oceania).  


2014 - Aged 12


Thus, on 12th November 2014, she had her first surgery.  It was an absolute miracle, her spine was straightened, and she returned to her beloved gym.  We had a checkup at 6 months and then at 1 year and the tether held strong and true.  


2016 - Aged 14


Unfortunately, this is not the end of our story.  At our next checkup (2 years post operation) it revealed that Elyssa's curves had increased to over the 60 degree mark.  As her Mum, I was convinced that the tether was damaged in some way. 


John Ferguson suggested fusion, however, after much discussion very kindly agreed to go back in via surgery and check to see whether the tether was broken.


June 2017 - Aged 14


John Ferguson performed another surgery to check the tether and found that the tether was broken in two places, he replaced the tether and this left her spine at around 40 degrees. 


At her 6 week checkup (her 15th birthday) the curve showed that it had progressed out to over 60 degrees once again.  The decision was at the time to now fuse her.


Elyssa, although 15, has her growth plates open and she has not had her period, thus still fits the category of VBT surgery. 

She has had issues with her lung after surgery and has had a pneumothorax after both surgeries, however, we dont seem to be able to give up on this new procedure.


Where to from here ?









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