Patient Stories

Ascension Seton has a simple measure of success: transforming people’s lives for the better. There’s no better way to tell their stories than in their own words.

Rachel Smart

17-year-old Rachel Smart is a typical high school senior. She loves socializing with her friends, she’s excited about going away to college soon and she aspires to be an actress someday. However, up until about a year ago, Rachel’s self-esteem was severely affected by her pediatric scoliosis. When Rachel was just nine years old, she was diagnosed with the spine condition. She wore a brace for two and a half years, but as she grew, her curvature worsened. Her case was severe: she had an 80 degree curvature and her condition was taking a serious toll on her body. Not only was she physically affected by a noticeable hump, her scoliosis began to compromise her breathing and affected her abdominal reflexes.

Fortunately, Rachel and her parents were referred to Dr. Geck in August of 2008. Rachel was extremely apprehensive about having the invasive, spine-correcting scoliosis surgery and scoliosis treatment. However, after speaking with Dr. Geck at great length, she agreed to undergo the procedure. “I felt like Dr. Geck treated me like an adult when he explained what would happen during and after my surgery. That made me feel more at ease about having the procedure,” explains Rachel. Rachel’s mother, Diane, is a registered nurse and appreciated the detailed explanation Dr. Geck provided them and how the entire medical team attended to all of Rachel’s scoliosis surgery needs and her comprehensive scoliosis treatment.

Two steel rods and 20 screws later, Rachel has become a different person, according to her parents. Her recovery was long, but not only did she gain two inches in height, she gained an invaluable amount of confidence and self esteem. In the past, her condition limited her to certain types of clothing. Today, she not only wears the latest styles, she also proudly wears her scar from the spine-correcting procedure. After her scoliosis surgery, Rachel continues to cheer for her school and now swims, dives, and plays racquetball. Rachel explains, “I am determined not to let my scoliosis condition define me.”

Marcia Ehlers

Marcia Ehlers had been living with scoliosis for more than 55 years. Doctors originally told Ehlers her condition was hereditary and treatment options were nonexistent. She never wore a brace, and by the time she turned 35, her posture was noticeably crooked. “My condition wasn’t debilitating, but it did get to the point where I couldn’t button my sweaters because one shoulder was higher than the other,” explains Ehlers. She also started to wear a lift in one shoe to compensate for the differences in leg length. Her biggest frustration was not being able to wear certain clothes, like shirts or blouses.

Doctors began to tell Marcia that she would end up in a wheelchair if she did not have adult scoliosis treatment, which in her case meant corrective scoliosis surgery.

A trip to Thailand really opened her eyes to the severity of her scoliosis. While she and her husband toured different temples, they were required to take off their shoes before entering. Her husband videotaped the temples. “That’s when I saw just how crooked my posture was without my shoes with lifts,” explains Marcia. It was then that she decided to seek scoliosis treatment, and ultimately corrective scoliosis surgery.

“I had never had an operation my entire life and I thought I was too old to have surgery. Then I met Dr. Geck and he explained how the procedure would correct my curvature. I was really skeptical and he completely put me at ease,” says Marcia.

It has been over a year since Dr. Geck operated on Marcia and corrected her spine with scoliosis surgery, two steel rods and 22 screws. Life has definitely taken a turn for the better. “It was a long recovery, but worth every minute,” Marcia happily explains. After her scoliosis treatment, she gained two inches in height and is now able to exercise. She says she is in the best shape of her life. Marcia goes to her local senior center several times a week to exercise, but she says one of her biggest enjoyments in life now is line dancing with her husband. She says it would have never been possible before her trip to Austin for her life-changing scoliosis surgery.

Stacy McFarland from Austin, Texas

Stacy McFarland’s biggest passion is being a mom to her two-year-old daughter, Avree. She also loves her career as a realtor. She spends hours getting in and out of her car, showing homes throughout Austin. But motherhood and her career would have caused her severe back pain had she not undergone scoliosis treatment and spinal correction surgery for her adult scoliosis five years ago.

Stacy was diagnosed with scoliosis when she was 11 years old. She had a 35-degree curvature, wore a back brace for about seven years and saw some improvement. But after a few years of not wearing it, her curvature returned with a vengeance, this time advancing to about 50 degrees. “I couldn’t sit in a chair for long periods of time and experienced constant back pain,” recalls Stacy.

Her husband spent hours on the Internet researching minimally invasive scoliosis surgery and other scoliosis treatments provided by top scoliosis experts in Central Texas. His thorough research led him to Dr. Geck, who performed corrective scoliosis surgery on Stacy. For the first month of recovery, Stacy says she had limited mobility. “But after about six months, I started walking for exercise, and after a year, I could do anything,” explains Stacy.

Stacy became pregnant with her son and started participating in boot camps. “I could even do sit-ups and push-ups during the camp. I never thought that would be possible!” says Stacy. An avid runner, Stacy is now able to exercise and enjoy the Austin outdoors without back pain. In fact, Stacy and her husband have planned a snow skiing trip this winter. “Dr. Geck performed the corrective surgery that has allowed me to move forward with my life,” Stacy says.