This three-part series follows the story of Brianna Graham, MSN, RN, NPD-BC, diversion prevention specialist, Parkview Health, and her journey of healing after a back injury aggravated her scoliosis in 2014.
Brianna is a single mother of two, who has dedicated her career, most of which she’s spent in the Parkview health system, to caring for others. She was accustomed to living with the mild discomfort of scoliosis, but when a misstep during a weight-lifting session led to damage to the disks in her back, she began dealing with daily, debilitating pain.
For six years, she tried everything to tolerate the sensations, but the mental and physical toll of the pain was affecting her. Brianna gained more than 100 pounds and was on as many as eight different prescriptions just to function as a parent and a professional.
By September 2020, her spine had collapsed to a 45-degree angle. The nerve damage was so severe that her legs were giving out, prompting her to use a walker. She knew that she was going to have to change everything to find relief.
There were no guarantees that spine surgery would work, but it was Brianna’s last hope. She had to commit to a three-month recovery and the trials and tribulations that accompany a major procedure. She discovered that finding her “why” was the greatest motivator for the road ahead. “You have to know why you want to get better, and for me, I wanted to give my children their mother back,” she said.
During the 6 ½ hour surgery, Brianna had rods placed in her spine and a ten-level fusion. They cracked her tailbone and bolted it and her pelvis into place. She now has a titanium spine. “I’m bionic,” she boasts. Miraculously, Brianna was home in just 16 days, receiving care where she was most comfortable.
“I was blessed by my Parkview family,” she recalled. “I had Parkview Home Health, and the nurses were amazing. But I realized that surgery fixes the physical problem, but it doesn’t heal you, and if you can’t do the mental work as well for healing, you won’t get the best results. Not having the self-worth or self-confidence to feel like I deserved a better outcome was a hurdle I hadn’t expected, and that took a significant amount of work to get to a place where I could heal from the inside out.”
Brianna discusses the mental health components of her healing journey in Part 2 of her story. (Coming soon!)
Watch more in this series