For most children with scoliosis, the path to recovery is marked by simple observation and bracing. But when one patient battles two curves, her path—and spine—take an unexpected turn.
At 11 years old, it wasn’t normal for Anjellina Guiliano to have back pain. At first, she thought she might have slept on it awkwardly, and shrugged it off. When it continued to hurt for weeks, her mother, Francine, began to rub her daughter’s back with a topical pain reliever each night to make the pain go away.
But as Anjellina took her zombie costume off after trick-or-treating on Halloween, Francine noticed something that she hadn’t seen before: two large bumps—one under her right shoulder and one near her left hip. “I noticed it right away and my eyes filled up instantly,” says Francine. “When I had been rubbing her back, she had always been sitting, but standing up, it looked like she was hiding mini watermelons under her skin.” Panicked, she made a doctor’s appointment for the next day.
At Anjellina’s primary care doctor’s office, it was clear that Anjellina needed specialized care. “I heard the doctor yell to the receptionist, ‘Get Children’s on the phone,’ and it really scared me,” says Francine. …
When I gave birth to my daughter, Angela, in the summer of 2005, she was a perfect, healthy, happy baby and we were thrilled to welcome our first daughter into our family.
As Angela grew she amazed us in every way. She was outgoing, smart, funny and not at all shy. She had a way about her that was all her own. I was a little concerned that she seemed to be a tad clumsy and unsteady at times, but figured that was just another part of the person she was becoming. When I asked her pediatricians about it they said not to worry, but as time went on there was no denying that her funny little swagger had turned into a noticeable limp.
After being referred to an orthopedic doctor at Boston Children’s Hospital, Angela was diagnosed with developmental dysplasia of the hip, which means she had a problem with formation of her hip joint. She was 5 years old at the time.
By most standards, 5 is still very young, but when it comes to catching and correcting hip dysplasia, it’s considered quite late. If identified between infancy and the baby’s first birthday, doctors can usually treat it with special harnesses or casts, but for a child Angela’s age, treatment is much more difficult and often involves multiple surgeries.
MTV launches an online “morality meter” to help teens understand the difference between “digital use” and “digital abuse.” [Read whether or not parents are legally responsible when their kids engage in sexting.] Learning may be tougher for the teen brain. [Read about Frances Jensen, MD’s research into why teen brains really are different.]