MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Following a routine doctor’s appointment before the beginning of junior high, this week’s Kylie’s Kid went from swimming competitively to relearning how to walk.
Avery has always been a natural in the pool.
“I remember being able to swim without a life jacket or anything when I was really young,” Avery said.
So, it was a natural transition when she started competing five years ago.
“I just got into the competitive team when I was 10-years-old, and have stuck with it ever since,” she said.
But as Avery was heading into junior high, a regular doctor’s appointment revealed a surprising discovery: her spine was curved.
“The doctor had me bend down and was when he figured out, like, ‘Oh, you have scoliosis,'” she said.
It was something this competitive athlete had never noticed before.
“After he said it, I began to notice little things I hadn’t noticed before,” she said. “How one of my ribs stuck out more than other.”
Since Avery didn’t notice much to begin with, she didn’t think much of the diagnosis.
“I thought it was just this little minor thing,” Avery said. “Then, when someone was like, ‘Oh, you might need surgery.’ I was like, ‘Oh, OK.'”
At first doctors wanted to do a pretty aggressive surgery.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do a certain stroke in swimming,” she said.
But, doctors at Gillette Children’s Hospital were able to do a surgery that allowed Avery to live exactly as before.
“They took two rods and placed them on either side of my spine,” she explained.
The surgery was a success, but it would be some time before Avery was able to compete again.
“I had to relearn how to walk and how to stand up. I couldn’t do any of that by myself at first and it was so weird,” she said.
Now, Avery is back in the pool and better than before.
“It took it a little bit at a time and I eventually worked up to where I am now,” she said.
Avery is 15-years-old and will be at Stillwater High School next year. She’s considering studying medicine, but right now is just excited to start her freshman year.