At a young age, Aly Freeland was very involved in gymnastics, but was having knee and hip pain that someone her age should not be experiencing.
Her parents started getting her involved in some college swim camps, which required a physical exam. When going to get her physical, nobody imagined the results they would find. The doctor discovered she had scoliosis, which is the curvature of the spine, and then sent her to the hospital to get x-rays.
The x-rays were taken incorrectly, so they showed that the curve in her back was less severe than it actually was.
She went to a doctor in Amarillo who did another x-ray and found that instead of her spine curving like an "S" shape, it was actually curving in. The doctor told her that a back brace would be necessary, but wanted her to have surgery immediately.
"I wore my brace for a year. When I got it I was at a 36 and 42 (curve degree)," said Freeland
She wore the brace her whole 7th grade year to stop her spine from getting worse.
Before her 8th grade year, she went back for a final x-ray and it revealed that her curve was then at 54 and 48 degree curve.
"Then, I went and had my surgery in August and I missed about two months of school," said Freeland. "After the surgery itself, you are not supposed to anything for probably about a year, and I recovered fast enough that I could do everything after six months, so I had a fast recovery."
The surgery consisted of an anterior fusion, which means they went in through the side and cut out one of her ribs out and then put a small rod and six screws at the bottom of her lumbar. Then, they grafted her rib to her back.
Freeland was only supposed to be in the hospital for three days, but during the process, she had to have a chest tube. With the chest tube she was at risk of getting pneumonia, which ended up happening, making her hospital stay a week long.
Freeland also said that she is supposed to go back for another surgery because they only fixed about half of it.
"If they would have caught it sooner, especially when I was in 6th grade or when I was about in 5th grade, then I wouldn't have had to have my surgery; I would have just worn a brace."
Now at 16-years-old, Freeland wants to raise awareness of scoliosis so that this type of situation can be avoided for other people in the future.
"I went around to all the 5th grade classes during counseling time and all the 6th grade classes the next week," Freeland said. "I had a powerpoint that I showed them with a lot of signs and symptoms. Most of the 6th graders next year have to do physicals for sports and it takes like ten seconds for a doctor to have you lean over and look at your back. So, if it gets caught then and taken care of properly, they wouldn't have to deal with it all."
City Council also declared the week of March 4 Guymon Scoliosis Awareness week due to Freeland raising awareness in the community.