COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO — Fifteen-year-old Jaylee Sanders is making quite a name for herself on TikTok as she documents her journey with scoliosis.
"This one blew up because it was me trying to curl my hair," said Sanders as she scrolls through her TikTok page.
Whether she's curling her hair in a metal halo traction ring, dancing with other patients or by herself, Jaylee Sanders has a following few can say they've reached.
"I am currently at 1.1 million followers," Sanders said.
Her most likes, more than 50 million spinning in traction for the first time.
Sanders made the videos as she was getting treated for scoliosis earlier this year at Scottish Rite for Children hospital in Dallas, Texas. To read more about halo-gravity traction, visit the Scottish Rite for Children website.
"My friend Jackson, who I was with, I remember seeing him before I went to Texas on TikTok," Sanders said. "I saw him on TikTok because I would always look up 'halo traction' because I was scared. I made a TikTok with him, and that’s kind of how I started."
But to take you back to where she "started" you have to see how severe Sanders' scoliosis was. X-rays show the before and after. Her spine was curved so much it made her stomach smaller, making her full fast.
"It was affecting her eating, it was affecting her stomach," said her mom, Treo. "It was affecting her mobility. It was affecting her even driving in a car. She couldn’t sit for a certain amount of time without being in pain and constantly saying 'My back hurts, my back hurts.'"
Her back was at an 87 percent curvature.
"She's still at a 30 percent curve so they couldn’t get her completely straight," her mom said.
But to get there, Sanders spent seven weeks in halo-gravity traction.
"It basically stretches your spine out before surgery," Sanders said.
That surgery another challenge. Her mother says doctors had to wake Jaylee up during surgery to make sure she was not paralyzed.
"That was my number one fear before they even took her," Treo said. "I just said, 'Please don’t paralyze her. That’s all I ask.' "
Now, two titanium rods and 24 screws later, Jaylee is much better.
"It helped me get through to know that I'd feel better, I’d look better, be taller, look more normal I guess," Sanders said.
Sanders is now 3.5 inches taller. She was 4'11" before surgery. Now she's 5'2". Growth more than just physically, mentally, too.
"I wanted to show people that even if you have this weird giant (halo ring) on, it doesn’t really matter," Sanders said. "You can still dance, talk, hang out with people even if you’re living in a hospital. It doesn’t change who you are."
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