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Hi, my name is Andrea and I am 16 years old. I am from Miami, Florida and was raised by my two parents who were born in Venezuela. At the age of nine, I was diagnosed with Scoliosis. It started very mild, but the more I kept growing, the more my scoliosis increased. I went to multiple doctors, but at the age of 13, my family and I flew to New York and met with Dr. Feldman. At that moment, I knew he was going to be my doctor. The more times I flew to New York to meet with him, the worse my back kept getting. In February of 2015, he told me that surgery would be the ideal scenario. I will never forget the day he told me that. It was a terrifying thought that no child or parent should have to think about. However, Dr. Feldman and his assistant, Ella, were truly remarkable and what I call “lifesavers.” They made my family and I feel comfortable and prepared us for what was to come.

My surgery was scheduled for July 6, 2015. In addition, Dr. Feldman and Ella were always checking if my family and I were okay. They had answers to all my questions and were the shoulders I leaned on throughout this whole process. It was July 6, and this was the day I had been waiting for. I remember waking up at 5 in the morning, wishing that it could all be a dream and that I wasn’t awake. Nonetheless, it wasn’t a dream. I knew that this was going to be a very big challenge in my life, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready for it, but I knew it was for the best. First, the anesthesiologist came and asked me a few questions to see if I was allergic to anything. Then, Dr. Feldman came to check on me and signed my back with a smiley face. He didn’t look at all scared, hesitant, or nervous. Rather, he had a huge smile and gave me a hug right before entering the operating room. At that moment all my nerves and thoughts went away.

I hugged and waved goodbye to my mom and brother, while my dad walked with me into the operating room. I remember saying to my dad “Yolo” which means “You only live once.” Suddenly, all I see if my mom and dad standing over me. The surgery lasted several hours but the time flew by for me. I was in a very mad mood, hungry and very tired because of the anesthesia. Twenty-four hours passed by and they were already putting me in a chair and made me walk. This wasn’t easy at all, it was very difficult.

I was able to leave the hospital after just five days. I wasn’t myself 100%, everything was hurting, but it was all worth it. My surgery affected me in various ways and I wouldn’t change it for anything. It was a very difficult process and a hard decision for my parents. After the surgery, I was able to grow as a person, physically and emotionally. I became a new, different person because I was seeing the world from a different perspective. I was able to understand what some people have had to deal with, and the risks and challenges I was taking. I became stronger and braver because I was able to face my fears. I was so grateful them, as much as I am today, because of my amazing doctor. Without this experience, I wouldn’t be the person I am today, and because of this whole emotional rollercoaster, I am able to realize what life is really all about. I know that any type of surgery is terrifying for the child as much as it is for the parent, but it will all be worth it in the end. Lastly, all I know is that we have to live every moment to the fullest. We should remember the past, believe in the future, and live in the present.

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