Children's Hospital Colorado

Jessie: Spine Surgery Can't Stop a Champion

Jessie's mom, Sherri
Jessie Freeland, 14-years-old, underwent spine surgery at Children's Hospital Colorado to correct the curve in her spine caused by scoliosis.
Jessie, 14-years-old, a spine surgery patient at the Orthopedics Institute

When Jessie was 11-years-old, the first doctor we saw told us that most people have a curve to their spine and Jessie’s curve wasn’t bad -- so we weren’t too concerned. However, over the next year, her pain increased and we started seeing a chiropractor who recommended that we see a spine specialist at Children’s Hospital Colorado for her idiopathic scoliosis. It was at this point that we became very concerned and scared for Jessie’s future.

At Children’s Colorado, we were fortunate to have Dr. Garg as her doctor. He was always thorough with his exams and willing to answer any questions that we had. We saw Dr. Garg twice a year over the next two years, and he gave us several options for scoliosis treatment but never made us feel pressured into doing something that we weren’t comfortable with.

Dr. Garg and the pre-surgery Spine Class helped us prepare for surgery

X-ray of Jessie's spine before and after surgery, showing it curved then straight.
Jessie's spine before and after surgery

When Jessie was 14 years old, we decided that surgery was her best option. Dr. Garg took his time to explain what spinal fusion surgery is and exactly what steps he would take in the operating room. He also described the recovery and what Jessie would experience after. To help us prepare for Jessie’s spine surgery, he highly recommended taking the pre-surgery Spine Class that Children’s Colorado offered. Spine Class was really helpful; we met other kids and families who were also preparing for surgery and were able to ask a former patient many of our questions. We also toured the hospital and saw the patient rooms where Jessie would stay.

Jessie’s recovery was easier than we expected

Managing Jessie’s pain was our biggest fear about her recovery. I can honestly tell you that it wasn’t as bad as we anticipated. The first two weeks after surgery were the roughest, but Jessie handled it just fine. For the first few days after we came home from the hospital, we continued the same pain medicine schedule that she had in the hospital. At night this meant that her father and I took turns waking up and giving her pain medicine -- we didn’t want her to hurt and I think it helped her recovery.

Four weeks later, Jessie was back on the basketball court

Jessie went back to school four weeks after surgery. She immediately started playing basketball with her team even though she was still weak from the surgery. It took her awhile to build up her stamina, but she got stronger with each passing week. When basketball season ended, she ran track and placed 1st or 2nd in all of her meets. Her times continued to improve with each meet. When school ended for the year, she swam on the local swim team. Her best event was the breast stroke, and we are happy to say that only six months after surgery she took 1st place at the championship meet.

Now Jessie stands tall and is pain-free

Jessie stands tall with her champion medals hanging around her neck.
Six months after surgery Jessie won 1st place at a championship swim meet.

Jessie is a fighter and determined young lady. She does not regret having the surgery at all because her back doesn’t hurt her anymore and she stands straight and tall.

Everyone at Children’s Colorado was so wonderful and competent in what they do. We always felt like Jessie was in the best place that she could be. They answered all of our questions even after we got home from the hospital, and we never felt like we were alone in this process. We could never give them enough praise and couldn’t imagine a hospital giving her any better care.

Learn more about the Spine Program at Children’s Colorado.


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