Tonight’s episode of Sister Wives documents Ysabel’s spine surgery to correct the 55-degree curve the then 17-year-old’s spine had developed because of scoliosis. At the point where she had the surgery, Ysabel was in constant pain every single day, and all she wanted to do was live pain-free. Did the surgery achieve a life with less pain for Ysabel?
Ysabel found out she had scoliosis when she was 13 and it was at a 26-degree curve. By the time she got surgery the curve was at 55-degrees and had completely changed the shape of her body.
Ysabel had tried a lot of alternative treatments to surgery over the years, including a brace. She hated wearing her brace because it was big and kids would comment on it. On top of that, the brace itself hurt and bruised her. It also didn’t help slow the curve of her spine and eventually her pain increased to an unbearable level.
Once Christine found out Ysabel was in daily pain, she applied for health insurance and did everything she could to get Ysabel surgery that would stop her pain, despite Kody’s reservations about surgery. In a recent episode, Kody said that he had not realized the severity of Ysabel’s pain, and eventually understood that she needed the surgery.
Truely and Gwendolyn accompanied Christine to Ysabel’s surgery, which was in New Jersey, but her dad Kody chose not to go because of family COVID-19 restrictions. He did give Ysabel a hoodie that he told her was “like a hug.”
The first thing Ysabel asked was if she had a “killer scar.” She asked if it was really big. When they said it wasn’t that big she joked that they should have cut her open more. Ysabel was planning to get a tattoo over her scar after she turned 18. It’s unknown if she has gotten a tattoo yet, but she has already passed that birthday milestone.
The second thing Ysabel said was she wanted to call “Daddy” to tell him that she misses him.
Her surgery took two hours longer than expected, but it went well. The surgeon, Dr. M. Darryl Antonocci expected to release it in 3 places, but he released it in 6. He reduced the curve from 55 degrees to 15 degrees. He found that her spine was very stiff.
Ysabel didn’t get the traditional rod surgery. Instead, the surgery she got went in from the side, slice between the ribs, pry ribs apart, collapse the lung and move it out of the way. They then attach fibers with screws to the spine, and the fibers straighten the spine.
Because this involved so much, her initial recovery was incredibly painful. Christine was shocked at the amount of pain Ysabel was in the night after her surgery. Because of the anesthesia and pain meds, she was in a mental fog and had little short-term memory. Christine said Ysabel would ask for her “Daddy” every time she woke up because she couldn’t remember why he wasn’t there.
Her pain levels continued to be extreme over the next few days, but she was able to meet her walking goals to leave the hospital in five days so she could go to her aunt’s house to recover.
While she was at her aunt’s house, Ysabel got a surprise visit from her adult siblings Hunter and Aspyn, and Aspyn’s husband Mitch. Christine said she made sure to tell them that it was a risk to come because of COVID and that they needed to take the same COVID-19 precautions that Christine had been practicing. Once they walked in, however, she realized that she had had no idea how much she and Ysabel needed them. Their presence really cheered Ysabel up.
Ysabel’s siblings Truely and Gwendolyn, who still lived with her and Christine in Flagstaff, also came with Ysabel for her procedure and recovery.
Six weeks later, Ysabel returned to Flagstaff, but she was still in extreme pain that required Christine to administer pain meds every few hours even at night. This intense schedule with little time to sleep left Christine exhausted.
At the end of the episode, the rest of the adults came over to Christine’s house to see Ysabel. She joked around with them and showed them her scar, but was still in tremendous pain so she went back inside the house after a few minutes.
It was at that moment that Kody saw how much help Ysabel had needed during this time, and how much Christine was doing for her all alone. He expressed gratitude that they had gone through all the alternative treatments so Ysabel could get this surgery and acknowledged in interview that it had really been Christine going through the effort to get Ysabel the care she needed.
“I just want the best for my little girl,” Kody continued in interview. “And I want her to be happy and pain-free and hope that those are the results we get here shortly.
Thankfully, it seems like this surgery had completely changed Ysabel’s life. In September 2021, on the first anniversary of her surgery, Ysabel shared on her Instagram story that she “never felt so pain-free and in control of my own body.”
Top photo: Ysabel’s Instagram, other photos: TLC