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Thanks to spine surgery, 27-year-old patient can hike Indiana trails

IU Health Methodist Hospital

Thanks to spine surgery, 27-year-old patient can hike Indiana trails

Thanks to Spine Surgery, 27-year-old Patient can Hike Indiana Trails

Summary: She was 12-years-old when Deeanna Harris had her first surgery at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. Fifteen years later she was back at IU Health Methodist Hospital for a second intricate back procedure.

By IU Health Senior Journalist, TJ Banes,

Deeanna Harris looks forward to spring. She will hit the trails around her Hendricks County Home and the state parks in southern Indiana. Hiking is something that she has come to enjoy these days.

There was a time however, when it was painful to even walk a few steps.

At the age of nine, Harris was diagnosed with scoliosis. In the years that followed she developed a degenerative disease. At the age of 12, she said her spine was curved 60 degrees - considered severe scoliosis. Generally, diagnosed in childhood, scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine. It affects two to three percent of the population, an estimated six to nine million people in the United States. The primary age of onset is 10 to 15 years of age in both males and females.

The American Association of Neurological Surgeons reports symptoms include uneven shoulders, the head is not centered above the pelvis, one or both hips are raised or unusually high, the rib cages are different heights, the waist is uneven, and the texture of the skin overlying the spine can change to show dimples, patches of hair, or color abnormalities.

“When I was little, they told my parents that my lungs could be crushed if I kept progressing and I wouldn’t live a full life,” said Harris. She first looked into surgery at the age of 21, specifically to fuse the bottom half of her spine. As a result of her degenerative disease, the pain increased over the years. She also had some arthritis build up.

“It got so bad that I could only go a little way before I had to sit,” said Harris. The lack of movement combined with depression caused her to gain weight. At one point, another facility advised her to lose weight before surgery would be an option.

“It was like Catch-22. I needed surgery to relieve the pain and improve my movement, but I couldn’t get the surgery because I was gaining weight because I wasn’t moving,” said Harris. When she became familiar with Dr. David Stockwell at IU Health West, she found the answers she was looking for.

On March 28 and 29, 2022, Harris was admitted to IU Health Methodist Hospital. In the care of Dr. Stockwell, she underwent the intricate surgery that would bring relief from her pain.

She spent three months in a brace to stabilize her core. Afterward, she said she felt pain free. Her favorite activities are playing with her 10-year-old son at local parks, and hiking state parks.

“Last summer I went to North Carolina and climbed a mountain and saw a waterfall,” said Harris. “I never would have been able to do that without surgery.”



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