A girl in a wheelchair sits looking at a pool with a purple tube with a concerned face on it floating in the water, she casts long dark shadow over the pool

Emotional Effects of a Spinal Fusion

Last updated: September 2022

I know many things have advanced in the medical field especially when it comes to spinal fusions. I had mine done at the age of 11 and I know many doctors are doing things sooner and trying different methods of supporting children with SMA.

I wanted to share more on the emotional side effects of someone who had this life-altering procedure done. My hope is to encourage teenagers and parents that though this may be a big change, it truly has been a lifesaver. But the emotional effects of this decision weighed very heavy on me as a young girl.

Severe scoliosis with SMA

Before my spinal fusion, I had severe scoliosis. Like others with SMA, my body did not have the support to hold up my spine as it should. However, I had the ability to do many functions on my own such as roll around, swim in a pool, bend over and reach for things, etc.

As I sat in the doctors' office and listened to them explain what they were actually going to be doing, I remember being overwhelmed and crying in their office. My biggest fear was losing the ability to swim on my own.

Fears that came with spinal fusion

Swimming gave me freedom. Swimming gave me mobility. Swimming made me feel as though I could walk run and swim even like a mermaid.

To know that there was a possibility I would be losing my ability to swim on my own was absolutely terrifying. I was more worried about life after the surgery than I was about the physical part of having an eight-hour extensive surgery.

Learning to adapt after surgery

There are lots of changes that are going to happen with your body after a spinal fusion however just like other areas of our life, you will learn to adapt. Giving my internal organs and other structural parts of my body a fighting chance was worth all the things I may have that I lost with a spinal fusion.

Yes I did lose my ability to swim on my own, yes I did lose my ability to bend over and pick things up, and yes I lost my ability to roll over and sit comfortably without any support.

If you’re pursuing getting this procedure done for you or a loved one, I would encourage making those things known to your children and validating their concerns but encourage them that they will find knew it and creative ways to do things.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

More on this topic

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The SpinalMuscularAtrophy.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.

Community Poll

Is self advocacy a part of your daily life?