By Sarrah Peters, News Editor
Local teenager Chloe Gibbs’ life was changed when a routine screening at Etowah Middle School turned up some troubling news: she had scoliosis.
Looking back, her mother Emily Gibbs said that the symptoms were present before the diagnosis. Chloe routinely complained of back pain and headaches.
After the disgnosis, the family went to Children’s Hospital, where Chloe was diagnosed with moderate scoliosis and prescribed a brace to help straighten her spine. Chloe had to wear the brace eight to 10 hours a night. Chloe described the brace, which pushed her body one direction and her hips the opposite direction, as very uncomfortable.
Even with the brace, Chloe’s spinal curvature grew worse and her scoliosis went from moderate to severe. Emily said that scoliosis “gets worse quickly during puberty.” The curved spine became noticable without an X-ray. Doctors informed Chloe and her family that her spine was pressing into her lungs and surgery was necessary.
Emily wanted to make sure they were making the best choice, since the surgery suggested, posterior spinal instrumentation fusion, was very invasive. She heard about BBT, a less invasive procedure that led the family to Shriner’s Hospital in Philadelphia. The family met Dr. Joshua Pahys there, who was immensely helpful.
“He sat with us for an hour and a half answering questions,” said Chloe.
Chloe didn’t end up qualifying for the BBT procedure, but Shriner’s wanted to do the posterior spinal instrumentation fusion by fusing less vertebrae.
Chloe’s surgery is scheduled at Shriner’s Hospital for June 15. The Shriner’s have generously paid for the surgery itself, but the family must stay in Philidelphia for about six weeks for part of Chloe’s recovery. In total, recovery from the surgery will take about six months. The surgery will limit Chloe’s flexibility, but will ultimately help her in the long run.
Chloe, only 14, is scared about the surgery, but has faith that God will see her through. She hopes that she can raise awareness on the issue, especially in June, as it is Scoliosis Awareness Month. Chloe also said that classmates did not understand that her condition was serious.
Through social media, Chloe was able to connect with others with scoliosis. The family also has begun sending care packages to girls going through surgery for scoliosis. Most recently they sent one to 11 year old Anna Grace.
Chloe also wanted to especially thank the Shriners. Not only did the group help with the surgery, but a member invited Chloe to accompany him to the group’s black tie Potentate Ball.
To help raise money for the family’s stay in Philadelphia and Chloe’s recovery care, the family is hosting a Marble Run on June 3. Similar to a poker run, a marble run involves collecting marbles at different locations throughout town. The Marble Run will begin at Little Bridge Marina in Rainbow City. Registration begins at 10 a.m. and the run begins at 11 a.m. Riders will travel to Heritage Golf Course, Wills Creek Winery and Jeffersons in Rainbow City before returning to Little Bridge Marina. The run ends at 4 p.m. Several drawings will also be held.
Registration is $15 per bike, $5 per passenger and $10 for non-riders. The event is kid-friendly, Chloe assured, stating that friends from her school would be attending.