At the age of 10, I was sitting poolside at school when out of the blue, the PE teacher called me over.
She asked me to touch her toes and ran her finger along the length of my spine – except she didn’t follow a straight line. Instead, she drew the shape of an S.
Concerned, she called for the school nurse and it was in that instant I knew something wasn’t right.
I was soon diagnosed with Scoliosis and a 58 degree curvature of the spine.
My surgeon at the time said it was the largest curvature he had seen in someone so young and since I was in the thick of adolescence and still growing, he had no choice but to put me into a back brace.
I wore the plastic equivalent of a corset for 5.5 years for 23 hours a day, which by the time I had stopped growing had only reduced my curvature to 45 degrees.
I was 15 years old and staring down the barrel of spinal surgery.
After a 2.5 hour operation, my thoracic spine was fused with 8 titanium rods and 16 screws, and I spent the next 8 days in hospital learning how to roll over in bed, sit up, stand up, walk and pick things up off the floor.
Fast forward some 15 years later and I’ve still got Scoliosis. You see, there’s no cure for it – only treatment – and there are many post-surgery side effects that remain.
A lot of people to look at me would never know there’s anything “wrong” with me.
At first, they can’t see that I have one leg slightly longer than the other or that my hips are a bit out of whack or that one side of my rib cage is more prominent than the other.
And those that know me well and are familiar with my medical history often forget what I’ve been through or that it still affects me to this day.
You might have noticed earlier this week that I said my neck was playing up.
The funny thing is, I don’t suffer any pain or discomfort in the part of my spine where I have my rods and screws; it’s actually the other parts – the “free” parts – that cause me problems.
I carry most of my tension in my neck and shoulders, so the slightest wrong move, crappy night’s sleep or aggravation will see them flare up and have me making a desperate phone call to my physio.
I also get lower back pain from time to time, and have an inflammation/over use injury in my longer leg – my left leg – right up in the spot where my hamstring meets my glute (the most awkward spot ever, truth be told).
While I don’t intend for this post to be a “oh woe is me, haven’t I got it tough” type of story – because I certainly don’t – I just want the knowledge to be out there, as Scoliosis is so common and it can range from mild to severe.
If you want to learn more about Scoliosis, please check out the Scoliosis Australia website.
Do you or does someone you know have Scoliosis?
Do you have any questions about Scoliosis that you’d like to ask me?