Spinal Surgery as a Child

When I was 11, I went to see my doctor for back pain. She sent me home thinking it was just muscle pain from gymnastics. About a month later, I collapsed while practicing a back handspring. The pain was incredibly intense. I couldn't walk for the rest of the day. I went back to my doctor, who then took an x-ray. Turns out it was a cyst wrapped around my spinal column aka: a benign aneurysmal bone cyst of the thoracic spine. The cyst was discovered in March 1998, by July 1998 it was removed. I had wonderful doctors and medical staff during the cyst extraction. I thank Dr. Oppenheim, and my favorite nurse, Margot, among many others whose names I no longer remember. I ended up staying 17 days for the following procedures (and recovery time) collapsed lung, bone graft, embolism, and cyst removal. The end result was 6 levels of fusion, a Harrington rod and an overall great experience. The cyst returned in 2000, and again Dr. Oppenheim and his staff took excellent care of me. It has been 13 years since the last operation, and I am a fully functional healthy adult. I have 9 levels of fused vertebrae and some well healed scars as a reminder of my ordeal. I cannot thank UCLA enough for giving me the opportunity for a normal life.

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