Eleanor Gagnon

"Dr. Angevine has truly given me my life back."

Eleanor Gagnon TeachingEleanor Gagnon, 64, has been teaching for more than 40 years. She says her life and her job came to a halt last year as she struggled with debilitating scoliosis. She had been diagnosed with the condition as a teen, and it wasn’t until 50 years later she decided to get the care she needed.

“I was in pain all the time, and I was getting to the point where I was pretty crippled. I could not walk without a cane," Eleanor says. When she was referred to Dr. Peter Angevine, a neurosurgeon with Och Spine at NewYork-Presbyterian Columbia University Irving Medical Center, her spine had curved to about 76 degrees, she lost some height and the pain forced her to drop her hobbies and rethink how she teaches in the classroom.

“It was a balancing act in the classroom because I needed to stand, but then sometimes my back would hurt. And then there were times when the pain was so jarring that I truly would clench up in the midst of something. I'm blessed with having great students, but that was really tough for them to see as well.”

She underwent two long spinal surgeries to improve her spine’s curvature. And while the expected recovery period was about three months, she was able to get back to her students in two, saying she couldn’t bear to be away from them any longer.

Today, her spine’s curvature is at about 29 degrees. She is back to the hobbies she loves: getting her hands dirty as she gardens and exercising by walking her dog.

Most importantly, she’s back in the classroom standing a few centimeters taller, seeing eye-to-eye with her middle school students.

“Now everybody can't believe it. I'm tall, I'm straight. He's truly given me my life back."

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