LIFE

Doctors Can’t Explain Her Terrible Headaches, Then See The X-Ray And Realize It’s From Scoliosis

by Rebecca Landman
Rebecca is a writer living the Los Angeles dream. She loves hiking, music, and crocheting on her couch to the background lull of Netflix. She believes our world is complex. By sharing and listening to each other’s stories, we unpack that complexity layer by layer, learning more about who we are and how we want to live our lives. She writes to keep learning.

Every day, modern medicine saves countless lives, thanks to proper diagnoses and treatments. However, for certain sets of symptoms, the correct diagnoses are harder to come by.

When Caroline Heinle found herself struggling day after day through debilitating fatigue, pounding headaches, chronic neck pain, and a slew of other symptoms, she went to every doctor under the sun in search of a cure-all remedy.

Heinle even started documenting her amazing journey toward wellness back in April of 2015 on her blog, Fighting for My Immunity.

Eventually, Dr. Thomas Errico, co-director of NYU’s Spine Center, diagnosed worsening scoliosis as the root cause of her magnified symptoms. He proposed she undergo a very advanced type of back surgery.

It took her about 18 months to go ahead with the surgery. But now? Life has a funny way of surprising us with beautiful miracles when we least expect it to.

Scroll through below to see how this miracle surgery and Heinle’s intense perseverance have helped her make the positive health changes her life so desperately needed!

[H/T: New York Post]

scoliosis patient

At just 15 years old, Caroline Heinle was diagnosed with scoliosis, a curvature of the spine, requiring her to sleep in a bulky back brace every night.

model

By age 30, Heinle had been living in Los Angeles for five and a half years, pursuing her dreams of being an actress, a model, and a writer. Then, her health started taking an unexpected turn for the worse.

To financially support her artistic dreams, Heinle took on waitressing shifts that began running her body and soul completely ragged.

scoliosis patient

She started developing debilitating bouts of fatigue, sharp headaches, and chronic neck and back pain.

Searching for relief, Heinle visited all sorts of different doctors and specialists, both of the Western and Eastern medical persuasions.

scoliosis patient

Eventually, Heinle’s health issues became so unbearable that she had to leave Los Angeles and move back to her hometown of Warren, NJ.

doctor's appointment

Heinle writes on her blog: “I was suffering from chronic neck and thoracic back pain, shooting and numbing pains down my arms, extreme headaches, extreme fatigue, herniated discs in my C-Spine, a searing in my spinal cord, depression, hormone issues, digestive issues, and honestly the list goes on.”

Once back on the East Coast, she met with Dr. Thomas Errico, co-director of NYU’s Spine Center. Dr. Errico had performed a “miracle” surgery on a friend of Heinle’s from high school, who also struggled with scoliosis.

scoliosis xrays

Dr. Errico told Heinle that in the 15 years since her initial scoliosis diagnosis, her spine had shifted from a 32-degree curvature to a whopping 45-degree curvature!

While he then told her she’d eventually need to have surgery to correct this spinal shift and relieve her chronic pain, he left the decision regarding when to pull the trigger in her hands.

It took her a year and a half, but in the fall of 2015, she finally was ready.

post surgery

The weekend and night before her surgery, Heinle kept calm by distracting her racing mind.

But miraculously, after the surgery ended, she was up and walking the hospital corridors within a matter of hours.

recovery

Just 11 weeks after her surgery, Heinle’s doctor felt her recovery was shaping up so nicely that he OK’d her to reengage in physical exercise, all on her own!

Heinle writes on her blog of her first post-operation doctor’s appointment: “My mother came with me to my appointment, and we were reminiscing about how I was in such bad shape last year… I had pounding headaches, constant sinus infections, chronic neck and shoulder pain, chronic fatigue, shooting and numbing pains down my left arm and sometimes down my leg and I was a depressed MESS!

“My first appointment ever with Dr. Errico had me in tears and I was really scared of having surgery, but I also knew that living the way I was living was no longer an option.”

happy girl

Just three months after her surgery, Heinle was back to work modeling.

She recalls of that first shoot back, “Three months later I was back to work… on a photo shoot that pushed me, BEAUTIFULLY, outside of my comfort zone.

“Surgery has enabled me to live life more fully and tackle the small things in life.”

scoliosis

Heinle’s story proves that through great pain can come glorious triumph.

What do you think of Heinle’s saga? Have you ever struggled with scoliosis or another difficult-to-diagnose ailment? Tell us your story in the comments.

Please SHARE this happy ending with someone struggling on their own health journey!