I don’t remember living in a body that doesn’t hurt. I was 13 years old in 1988 when I first felt pain in my back. I was diagnosed with scoliosis at my first spinal specialist appointment, I distinctly remember seeing the C shaped curve on my X-ray. I spent the following two years in and out of body braces; a Boston brace and two different plaster cast jackets.
At age 15, I underwent my first surgery. Over the following 10 years I had many different fusion operations, posterior and anterior; one for Spondylosis, another for prolapsed discs, two for scoliosis, and another for Kyphoscoliosis. In total I had fitted to my spine, and later removed; 3 metal plates, a 3” metal rod, a 5” metal rod, 2x 13” Harrington rods, and a total of 26 screws and bolts. All of my treatments and surgeries were under the same wonderful consultant, who saw me through almost every appointment, until he retired recently. The surgeries were traumatic in themselves, as was the need to readjust to a new body, learning how to walk and to hold myself in my new position, and to reintegrate my new appearance into part of me.
Despite the surgeries and an improved shape, I continued to suffer with pain. In my 20s I struggled to deal with this, always fighting to find an answer to make my suffering go away. As I reached my 30s, my outlook changed. I learnt acceptance. Then life became easier. Acceptance of the pain, of how I looked, and of the experiences of the invasive treatments I had to undergo.
Having scoliosis has never held me back. Despite the repeated surgeries I was going through at that time, I finished school and A-levels, got a University degree, and became a qualified Acupuncturist. If anything, my experiences made me more determined to succeed. It had previously been suggested that I may not be able to carry a child due to the position of my womb. Despite this, I now have a 10-year-old and an 8-year-old, and I adore being a mum.
Now at age 45, with scoliosis that is slowly deteriorating, I worry about how much worse it will get, and whether I’ll even require further surgery. I am in constant pain. I take painkillers every day and take part in regular yoga and Pilates classes- it feels so good to stretch.
For anyone out there who is dealing with a scoliosis diagnosis and is facing treatment, it is hard, but you will come through this stronger and more in tune with yourself and the world around you. It doesn’t have to hold you back.