We LOVE to hear how you came to us and the outcome of your journey. We consider each of our patients part of the Hey Clinic for Scoliosis and Spine Surgery family and are invested in your recovery success. These are stories recently shared with us from our patients.
Surgery: 1/2015 revision
“I was originally diagnosed with scoliosis when I was 13. When I was 18–my curve had gotten much worse and I was in terrible pain. I had my first surgery.Less than five years after my first surgery–I was at work and all of the sudden I felt this awful pain in my back. I called my doctor and drove there immediately. They did X-rays and discovered that two of my rods had broken. I really never thought the day would come when I would be totally pain free with a straight, flat back. I could feel my lower rod protruding through my skin. I was beginning to lose all hope.
After a few months of suffering with the broken rod–I decided to start looking for other scoliosis specialists within the state. I just happened to come across Dr. Hey’s website. I put in an appointment request and later that afternoon–my phone rang and Dr. Hey himself contacted me about my request! I could not even believe it! He scheduled me an appointment the very next morning. He took X-rays and diagnosed me with Kyphosis–which is probably what led to my original rods breaking. He confidently told me he could fix my scoliosis and kyphosis and give me a stronger construct which would lead to a flatter, straighter back.
Forward to after my surgery—I had an amazing experience at the Duke Raleigh Hospital with Dr. Hey’s Team–everyone was so amazing!
Six months later and I am completely PAIN FREE. I feel like a whole new person! I can do everything I ever wanted to do without pain! It is absolutely unbelievable. Dr. Hey was a true answer to prayer. I cannot even express how blessed I am to be able to live my life pain free! I just hope other people are able to find Dr. Hey who have had failed surgeries who believe that there is really no hope to being fixed and pain free—when there definitely is!!!”
“I was born with one lung and was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 12. At that point in time my spine was too far gone for any kind of brace, surgery was the only answer. We were afraid to do surgery because at 12 years old I had already medically been through so much. So I fought scoliosis for years and I was in pain all the time due to the curve. My hip went bad and then during my pregnancy the curve got worse and actually became a triple curve.
After the birth of my son we searched for the best surgeon to help me and would take on my high risk case. We were referred to Dr.Hey by another orthopedist. From the beginning, he treated us like family and took such great care of me. I was very comfortable with Dr.Hey and his team.
I now feel like I should at 24!
We thank Dr.Hey for fixing what we thought was impossible. Thanks for straightening me out!”
Vanessa Mcmanus and Family
Surgery date 6/2/15
Hometown: Columbia, MD
Age at time of surgery: 14
Diagnosis: Scheuermann’s Kyphosis
“I was first diagnosed with scoliosis when I was around 11 years old. A specialist at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore was following my scoliosis. At my visit the summer I turned 13, my mom asked the doctor about my poor posture. He didn’t even look at me. He just told me that I needed to work on my core strength and that it would get better. My mom and family encouraged me to stand up straight, but I could only hold my posture for five to ten seconds. My mom noticed that my back posture kept getting worse, and that my spine was starting to pop out even through my shirts. She insisted that they take a closer look when I went back the summer I turned 14. Suddenly, he went from saying that there was no problem to telling me that I needed surgery immediately. I was devastated. I was starting high school in a couple of weeks and was looking forward to playing high school sports and making new friends. I had suffered from back pain for years and was regularly going to see the chiropractor to relieve the pain I felt in my back, but I was not expecting to need surgery.My mom got a second opinion at Children’s Hospital in Washington DC. Then she started researching kyphosis on the Internet. She kept running across Dr. Hey’s name, so she went to his website and spent hours reading through it. The doctors at Hopkins had told me that I wouldn’t be able to play any sports for a year following the surgery. I was so relieved when Dr. Hey told me that he would have me up and running and playing lacrosse by spring!!! I really didn’t want to have the surgery. It wasn’t an easy process. I am still recovering and at times, my body aches in new ways as my body adjusts to its new position. But guess what, I started running just two months after the surgery, and I started playing lacrosse again last month…just three months after my surgery! Whenever I run into people I haven’t seen in a while, they always comment on how tall I look. That’s because I’m went from 5’8” to almost 5”10. I actually looked about 5’6” before the surgery because I was so bent over. My stomach doesn’t stick out anymore either. Now that’s a bonus! Seriously, I wish I didn’t have kyphosis, but I know God put Dr. Hey in my life to help him fix my back. I can’t imagine any other doctor operating on my back. He got me straight again!”
Hometown: Raleigh, NC
Age at time of surgery: 18
Diagnosis: Idiopathic Scoliosis
At age nine, Sabrina was diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis with a twenty degree double curvature; meaning, her spine was S-shaped due to a thoracic curve and a lumbar curve jutted in opposite directions. For a year she only had x-rays every few months to monitor the curvature as she grew. At age ten, it increased to twenty-eight degrees, so she was placed in a full body (torso) bending brace twelve hours a day. The bending brace overcorrected her spine to allow only twelve hours per day wear versus twenty-four hours. She wore the brace for five years and had x-rays regularly to monitor the curvature. At age fifteen, an x-ray of her hip showed the growth plate closed, indicating she was nearly done growing. Scoliosis protocol at that point indicates bracing is no longer necessary.
Every patient is different, and for Sabrina the curvature worsened out of the brace, the first year to thirty-three degrees. An increase isn’t uncommon as the body adjusts to life without a brace, but unfortunately her increase continued. When she was seventeen, her curve worsened to thirty-seven degrees. Less than a year later, to forty-four degrees. That x-ray led to Sabrina’s five-hour surgery May 2012 at Duke Raleigh Hospital, performed by Dr. Lloyd Hey, the top scoliosis surgeon in America who operates on professional and college athletes.
Sabrina’s freshman year in college (fall 2011), she started to suffer acute lower back pain. A full scholarship swimmer at Virginia Tech, she pushed through the pain during the swim season, especially at ACC Championships in February 2012 and NCAA Championships in March 2012. From fall 2011 to spring 2012, she endured three in-hospital spinal injections and took pain meds and an anti-inflammatory regularly. Due to the year of intense pain she suffered, her Virginia Tech coach was stunned by her performance at ACC’s—she broke records and her performance qualified her for NCAA Championships. At NCAA’s, her right leg numbed due to nerve involvement and her back muscles froze to protect her spine. Soon after, an x-ray showed her curvature at forty-four degrees. Surgery from T5-L1 (thoracic #5 to lumbar #1) was now inevitable.
Since x-rays give an extreme limited view, Dr. Hey’s three-dimensional direct view was only available via surgery, and during Sabrina’s five-hour surgery on May 2, 2012, he found her rib cage concaved in four inches due to the rotation of her spinal curve (Think: thoracic spine curved to the side and twisted inward). He straightened her severely crooked spine, fused her vertebras, and inserted two parallel titanium rods and twelve screws to hold her spine straight in-line. Sabrina is proud of her scar from her thirteen-inch incision. It’s a reminder of how much she’s overcome.
Unbelievably, less than eight weeks post that surgery, she competed at the 2012 US Olympic Swim Team Trials for a spot on the US Olympic Swim Team that competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. She qualified to swim at US Olympic Trials back in August 2010, and she refused to not go and try to swim her best, so she started to get back in shape only a couple weeks post scoliosis surgery, and she battled pain as her body adjusted to the new positioning of her spine, scapulas, shoulders and rib cage as well as all the surrounding muscles, tendons and ligaments. She only began to find her new stroke with her new back when she swam in US Olympic Swim Team Trials.
Sabrina is currently training hard at Virginia Tech to compete at ACC Championships in February 2013.
I’m so thankful for Dr. Hey’s expertise and talent. Not only is he a skilled surgeon, he’s a man of God. Minutes before Sabrina was wheeled into surgery, Dr. Hey and his surgical RN offered to pray with us. My husband and I and our two younger children gathered hands with Sabrina, Dr. Hey and the RN, and the seven of us prayed. Just a few hours after Sabrina’s surgery, Dr. Hey and our family of five again gathered hands and prayed, this time in thanks.
Through my husband’s cancer, God led us to the Hey Clinic. Sabrina’s dad endured two surgeries and radiation treatments at Duke Raleigh Cancer Center; inside that same building is Dr. Hey’s office. As my husband and I approached the door to his Duke oncologist for the first time, I spotted Hey Clinic Spinal Surgery right across the hall. Soon after, I transferred Sabrina’s records from her first scoliosis orthopedist to the Hey Clinic, sensing somehow behind that door was the right scoliosis expert for her.
Thanks Dr. Hey!
Hometown: Wallace, NC
Age at time of surgery: 13
Diagnosis: Idiopathic Scoliosis
I was first diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of ten by my pediatrician. Both of my parents and my grandmother have scoliosis, so I was familiar with it. He just said to watch it for awhile and hopefully I wouldn’t need any treatment.
Two years later, my curve and my pain grew worse. It hurt to stand or sit for a long time and I had trouble taking a deep breath. We went back to my pediatrician and he recommended I see an orthopedic surgeon. After I was examined by the surgeon, he decided surgery was necessary, but no one in our area performed spinal fusion surgery on children.
My mother then went online and starting researching scoliosis surgery. After reading about how severe the surgery can be, she came across Dr. Hey’s website and blog. She read some patient’s testimonies and looked at before and after photos and we were amazed! All of the patients were thrilled with their results and posture. It was exciting to read how they were pain free after their recovery. After reading that Dr. Hey prayed with his patients before surgery, we knew he was the guy for us!
Less than a week later, we met Dr. Hey and his team. They took some measurements and x-rays and confirmed I needed surgery. They spent a lot of time explaining the surgery to us and answered all of our questions. After this meeting I felt very encouraged.
My surgery date was January 29, 2009 at Duke-Raleigh. Everything went great and just as planned. I spent only two nights in the hospital and the pain wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. I did push the button that gave me pain medicine through my IV a lot though. I don’t really remember much about first day in the hospital because I was asleep most of the time, but I do remember Dr. Hey coming in to check on me. The next day I was up and walking the halls with my grandfathers. It felt great to move.
When I came home, I was greeted by my family and I then walked up four flights of stairs all by myself to my bedroom. The next night was the Super Bowl. I felt well enough to go to the party and stayed awake for most of the football game.
After a few weeks I felt a sense of great accomplishment and I couldn’t believe that I just had spinal fusion surgery. The first thing I wanted to do now that I felt great was golf. I grabbed my clubs and rode my bike over to the driving range. The first swing felt awkward. I had to kind of get used to being straight. After a couple of swings I was doing super. Everyone that was there couldn’t believe that I had just had a spinal fusion a few weeks earlier. Now, 14 weeks after surgery I’m doing fantastic! I’m totally back to normal. I am walking 18 holes, putting, chipping, and driving. Amazingly, my drives are going twice the distance then before surgery. My stance and alignment have improved tremendously and my putting has even gotten better.
My thanks to Dr. Hey and team for how much time and effort they have put into making me straight. I thank God for bringing Dr. Hey into my life. Thanks for everything. I love you guys!
Hometown: Raleigh, NC
Age at time of surgery: 13
Diagnosis: Idiopathic Scoliosis
I was diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis in a routine physical in September of 2006. I know that sounds like it was a long time ago now, but I remember everything very clearly. I was 12 years old at the time. We did not find Dr. Hey at first. The first doctor we went to was very impersonal. His assistant came in, pulled on my legs and declared that one leg was simply longer than the other. The doctor came in with the x-rays and my mom described him as being “knife-happy,” talking about surgical options when at the time my curves were somewhere in the 30s. We were referred to Dr. Hey by a friend, and loved the Hey Clinic from the start.
Dr. Hey laid out all of our options plainly, answering questions from my parents but also being very intentional about making sure my questions were answered too – and being 12 and then turning 13 during this experience, many doctors would not have focused on me as much as he did. We tried chiropractic help, physical therapy, looked into bracing options, I was molded for a hard plastic TLSO brace, and by the time I got it wore it for 3 days before going back to see Dr. Hey. Dr. Hey told us that by then, since my curves had progressed so much and I was already having back pain, the brace would not be worth it. I had been going through growth spurts, and just as an example, in one month both of my curves had collapsed another 9 degrees. Even if it worked and kept my curves from getting worse, my quality of life would not be as good as it would be if I had surgery, and it would be like I had a black cloud hanging over my head wondering if my curves would collapse further in pregnancy or later adulthood. So we made the decision to go ahead with the surgery, and scheduled it for February 22nd, 2007.
My lumbar curve had transitioned from compensating for the thoracic curve to being a major curve itself, and we ended up having to fuse T5 to L3. My family and I had done lots of research throughout this process and I asked lots of questions, but Dr. Hey answered them all. In fact, at one point I emailed him questions about what the surgery and recovery would be like and what to expect, and he replied to me with 7 pages of information specific to adolescent scoliosis patients like me. When he told us that surgery would be our best option, he told me that if I was his daughter that is what he would do, and though it was difficult to think about surgery at that point, I believed him immediately and I understood through my answered questions that it was indeed the right avenue for us.
Dr. Hey made a documentary for me of my experience, showing pre-op and post-op conversations with me the day of surgery and, at my request, a video of the highlights of the surgery complete with explanations of what he was doing as he was doing it. I loved it and even watched it in the hospital the day after surgery. My mom waited to see it until we were home. My curves by the time of surgery had progressed to what were essentially two 50 degree major curves. Other doctors and resources told us that a 100% correction was impossible, but that is exactly what my correction turned out to be!
The Hey Clinic is a warm atmosphere, helpful and knowledgeable, and I enjoyed the atmosphere and the people so much that I shadowed one of Dr. Hey’s Physician’s Assistants for a semester in high school. I can honestly say appointments at the Hey Clinic are the only doctor appointments I actually look forward to, and since I am coming up on being 7 years post-op and my next appointment won’t be until 10 years post-op, I admit it makes me a little sad I have no excuse to see everybody! I do still love to drop by the hospital or the Hey Clinic itself when I am on breaks to visit patients and encourage them whenever I am home and available.
I am currently a senior in college, and will be graduating in May and starting in on my masters in the fall. My back pain is completely gone, and my fusion has not inhibited me from doing anything I have wanted to do. I’ve been horseback riding, last summer I ran around for 11 weeks as a camp counselor having kids jump on me and going down steep water slides…and the “black cloud” over my head is gone. Thank you to the Hey Clinic for taking away my back pain and any worries I would have had looking at the future concerning my back!