When Missy Maclin and her daughter Breanna met with Michael Schmitz, M.D., in November 2011, it was the little things that impressed them about the Chief of Orthopaedics at Children’s.
“He never looked at his watch when he talked with us,” Missy said. “He never rushed us. He took his time. It was all about Breanna, which I think is the way it should be.”
Months earlier, a quick diagnosis left the family looking for just that kind of doctor.
In April 2011, Missy noticed her daughter, 8 years old at the time, was standing “a little awkwardly.” When she took Breanna to see her pediatrician, the doctor immediately recognized the signs of scoliosis and recommended the family see a specialist.
Missy and her husband were in unfamiliar territory and scared for their daughter. It did not help that they felt uncomfortable with the first two doctors they met with after their daughter’s diagnosis.
“I wasn’t satisfied as a parent,” Missy said. “We didn’t feel comfortable, and Breanna didn’t feel comfortable. That made us more nervous. That caused us to look for another doctor.”
Missy went online to do research on spine specialists in Georgia and landed on the orthopaedic services at Children’s and Dr. Schmitz. A few days later, the Maclin family drove from their home in Columbus to meet with Dr. Schmitz and learn about Breanna’s condition.
From the beginning, Missy had a good feeling about Dr. Schmitz. He was completely different than the other doctors she had met.
“It was his demeanor and his style. He was so detailed,” she said. “This was complicated stuff, and after he was done talking, even I understood it. Breanna was able to understand it. I think that is important, that she feels comfortable. She is the one going through it.”
Breanna had two aggressive curves in her spine; one that her mother said was between 50-60 degrees. Because of the severity of the curves, bracing was not an option. Breanna would need a surgical procedure to address her spinal deformity. After a thorough discussion and consideration of the surgical options, Dr. Schmitz and the Maclin’s proceeded with a spinal fusion to both correct the deformity and eliminate the risk that the curve would worsen.
Before her procedure, Breanna and her parents were put at ease by Child Life Specialist Megan Dobbs. Missy said that Megan’s help gave the family a great deal of strength going into the procedure.
Breanna had the surgery in May 2012 and was discharged home three days after the surgery. At her first follow-up appointment three weeks later, she was able to see how correcting one of the curves in her spine actually corrected both. She was cleared to increase her activity level, like riding her bike and going to the pool with her friends.
She should be able to return to school and P.E. classes this fall.
“Before the surgery, in the hospital and after, they broke down everything that they were going to do and that we needed to do,” Missy said. “We never felt unaware. I was not as scared with the right information.”