Let me start by saying that I am Puerto Rican. I was born and live in Puerto Rico. I made this decision for surgery because I understood that I was being guided by God and that with God and the intervention of Dr. Antonacci, I was going to be able to move forward.
In every sense I was entering into a very important experience. When Dr. Antonacci recommended surgery many well wishers were against it, but we knew surgery in Dr. Antonacci’s capable hands was the right way to go. Furthermore, Dr. Antonacci’s knowledge and concern for my husband’s well-being put us at ease.
I was diagnosed with scoliosis when I was 11 years old. I went through physical therapy and periodic evaluations. By age 15 the curve increased, and I was a candidate for surgery or braces. I was evaluated at New York Presbyterian Hospital in NYC; it was decided that I did not need any. Thank you for all you have done.
Years went by. I had four children. By 2003, even though I continued to work and household chores, already in my 40’s, and suffering from much pain in my back, especially from my waist down, I decided to visit a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation. This is where everything began, therapies, medication, and evaluations with surgeons. The first surgeon I visited was of the opinion that I should have surgery; I could not decide. I went for a second opinion, and that I liked; the surgeon told me that surgery was not necessary. He recommended more evaluations and that I go to the gym.
Around 2009, I began to search the web, searching for scoliosis surgeons, etc. By that time my oldest daughter was living in New Jersey after finishing studies in the Princeton area. I found Dr. Antonacci’s site by the location of his office in Lawrenceville. I navigated the site. I made the test for the pre-diagnostics; and the answer was that I was a candidate for surgery. Well, that was what I didn’t want to hear.
Through all these years I have done everything. I work as an Administrative Assistant; I’m a homemaker, active member of my church, mother 24/7, and my constant pain was “normal”. I was used to the pain. What was really difficult was looking at myself in a mirror every day and seeing the deformity of my body; not every piece of clothing looked good on me. Whenever I cleaned the house, I ended up bent. My right shoulder and my right hip were uneven; I had a horrible curve on my waistline to the right side. It was very uncomfortable standing for long periods of time, as well as sitting. Even when sleeping I had to constantly change my position; and I needed to stretch my body constantly for relief.
On April 2010, I visited a new Internal Medicine female doctor. When she examined the 36” x-ray of my column, it revealed that the curve was even larger. I looked for another medical opinion, and he said that I was in need of the surgery.
This is where everything started. I got in touch with the office of Dr. Antonacci and made my first appointment for November 2010. My first impression was excellent; the amiability of Chris, with whom I had already constantly communicated by e-mail, was superior, and the evaluation and explanation of Dr. Antonacci was extraordinary. He took his time to explain to me and my family about the process and the possible results both positives and negatives. My curve at that time was 43 inches thoracic and 56 inches lumbar deviations.
I pondered my decision. I was not all that convinced to go through a surgery, when this would be the first surgery for me in my 57 years of life. Finally I made the decision, and in the summer of 2011 we scheduled the date for the surgery, October 2011.
Even though this was a difficult experience, I am so grateful to God for guiding me to Dr. Antonacci. The way Dr. Antonacci talked, explained and treated me, gave me peace, I knew from that moment that God was with me. It’s been a year since my surgery, and since the first day after surgery I did not feel any more pain in my back or numbness in my legs. I’m not bent any more. My shoulders, hips and legs are even, my back straight. My only exercise or therapy has been walking. Four months after my surgery, I went back to work. It’s almost two months since my restrictions (no bending, no lifting, and no twisting) were lifted, and each day I’m reaching my goals, and I see improvement.
On November 13, 2012 I had my first annual follow-up visit and all is in place. Now I will start doing spring based Pilates, toning and treading water in a pool as my daily fitness program.
Thanks to all the personnel with whom I dealt with at the Medical Center at Princeton (ICU, Telemetry and Rehab).
Thanks especially to Allison; her smiling face was the last known face that I saw before I entered the Operating Room. Thanks to Dr. Cuddihy and of course to Dr. Antonacci for his time and dedication.