When nursing student and BSSC alumni Kendall Pearson starts work experience at the Royal Children’s Hospital this year, it will not be the first time she has seen inside its wards. The 21-year-old Eaglehawk woman was a patient there in 2009.
As a teenager, Ms Pearson suffered from kyphoscoliosis, a condition that not only caused her spine to curve in an S-shape, but out to one side as well.
“My parents kept telling me to sit up straight all the time, and that’s when I realised I had a curvature of the spine,” she told the Bendigo Advertiser.
While Ms Pearson said surgery to straighten her back was elective, the threat of more health complications motivated her to go under the knife.
“I was obviously really scared and I didn’t know what the future would hold,” she said.
“But I would have probably suffered more pain, respiratory depression. The curve would have increased over time.”
Surgeons removed four of Ms Pearson’s vertebrae and relocated two ribs, before fusing her spine into place with titanium rods and screws.
The hardware remains in place today.
Despite the difficult recovery, Ms Pearson is glad for the experience, saying it made her want to become a paediatric nurse.
“I really want to aspire to be the type of nurse they were to me,” she said.
“They made me feel so special and their positive attitudes aided my recovery.”
Ms Pearson collects cash for the hospital every Good Friday, and will volunteer at an intersection on Marong Road in 2016.
She said Uncle Bob’s Club, which coordinates Good Friday Appeal fundraising in Bendigo, still needed more people to lend a hand this year, and urged people to donate their time.
“There’s a lot of sick children down there who need a lot of medical resources that they currently can’t provide,” she said.
“Every dollar counts in this situation, and hopefully they turn out to be wonderful, thriving children.”
Just before Ms Pearson’s 21st birthday last week, doctors released her from their care; her spine had finally fused into place.
While she is still only able to bend from the waist, Ms Pearson has no other side effects from the surgery.
Her journey will come full circle when she begins a seven-week placement at the hospital in May.