A difficult health decision changed one Morehead State student’s outlook on life when she was told she might be in a wheelchair by 21.

Olivia Walker was diagnosed with scoliosis at 12-years-old and had to undergo a nine-hour spinal fusion surgery, or risked being in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Despite how complicated it made her middle school years, it helped her find a new interest and life outlook.

“I cried a lot. I was just very scared and anxious,” said Walker, a sophomore convergent media major. “It changed my outlook on life too because I was so young, and I didn’t care about things. It made me realize stuff can happen to me too.”

Two rods were placed on either side of her spine along with metal springs underneath her neck an unusual addition added because she was still developing.

Before the surgery, Walker’s family opted to try out a back brace. The brace along with Walker’s height made her frustrated and an outcast. 

“I was always the outcast because I was so tall and so going into the surgery and coming out five inches taller was even more of a challenge,” said Walker, a Jackson, OH native. “I just felt very alone because I had no one to talk to about it. Nobody understood or knew what I was going through.”

Walker had always been involved in sports, but she had to step back after the surgery.

“I loved doing sports no matter what, but I couldn't do sports for a whole year,” said Walker. “So, I went to sporting events and just ended up taking pictures which helped me find the love for photography cause I still got to be a part of it [sports] but in a different way.”

Photography also helped Walker cope because it served as a form of communicate with her friends.

Putting her fears aside Walker made one of the hardest decisions of her life and it ultimate lead her to the place she is now.

“I will always focus on what is happening now and I would of never of found many of the things I love,” said Walker.