One of our past patients, Domiana, recently shadowed Occupational Therapist LaTanya, and her patients for a day because she is interested in pursuing a career in medicine. Domiana shared with us a few of her memories of her time at Shriners and why she is now pursuing a career in the medical field.
How did you become a patient at Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California? Shriners was recommended by my pediatrician in Napa when it was discovered that I had a leg length discrepancy.
How old were you when you became a patient? I was 4-years-old when I became a patient at Shriners.
What was the medical condition you were treated for? I have Ollier’s disease on the left side of my body which led to me having a total of 5 cm leg length discrepancy, and bone deformities in my middle finger and third toe.
Please describe your course of care (surgeries, physical / occupational therapy, etc.) During childhood I was periodically monitored with office visits and X-rays until I was old enough to have the growth plates removed from my right leg. After that, my first major surgery was to straighten my left leg as it had become bowed with insertion of a metal plate. My next and final process that I went through was to have my leg lengthened, which was done by breaking my bone in half and inserting an internal/external monorail. For the next eight weeks, I manually adjusted the length of the monorail until I attained the proper height. The monorail remained in my leg until the bone filled in the space that had been created by stretching it. Once my bone stabilized, I started physical therapy, and my gate as well as my strength, were measured several times over a period of time.
Do you have any special memories of time spent at the hospital – or hospital visits? I would actually look forward to spending time at Shriners whenever I had a major surgery there. The nurses were always so kind and accommodating, and the doctors were very informative and helpful with our questions. The care coordinator made sure I always had fun games to play or good movies to watch. I also loved the blankets the volunteers would make, and I continue to use them to this day.
How has your life changed since you became a Shriners Hospital patient? Shriners Hospital gave me two legs that are the same length. My last surgery happened before I entered high school, so I was able to attend my new school appearing “normal”. No longer did I have to wear a funky shoe, or walk on my tip toes. I now have a beautiful scar that I will sometimes joke about being a shark bite to those that first meet me.
Has the care you received at Shriners Hospitals for Children helped you in your life? If so, how? The care I received at Shriners gave me the passion to pursue a career in the medical field. Recently I have narrowed that down to Occupational Therapy. If I had not been a patient at Shriners Hospital, I doubt that I would be so sure and passionate about pursuing a career as an OT.
Did you pursue a college degree or certification after graduating from high school? Yes. I am currently pursuing my undergraduate degree in Human Development and Family Studies at Colorado State University. After that, I plan on going on to graduate school to become an Occupational Therapist.
Thank you, Domiana. We wish you all the best!