WTF is scoliosis?

Fun fact, June is scoliosis awareness month. Sounds dorky? Well….it is….kind of. But it’s also important and as someone who has a “platform” (air quotes are completely necessary) and someone who has in fact had scoliosis (surprise!) I feel like I should combine the two and do a post to bring  a w a r e n e s s  to this issue. 

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Scoliosis, as you can see by the definition above, is when your spine for one reason or another curves unnaturally. A lot of people actually experience this but go their whole lives without realising because the bend is so small. The issue is when the curve gets to an extreme degree or doubles (mine did both…which actually meant that when I wore clothes, you couldn’t really tell my spine was lopsided as my curves balanced each other out). If this happens, spinal fusion surgery has to take place otherwise your spine can collapse in on itself and crush you organs (FUN!).

Here’s a little before and after of mine:

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Before we get started here’s a quick Q&A:

What is spinal fusion surgery:

Where you have 2 rods placed either side of your spine and bolted on in order to straighten a curve (see above for quite obvious bolt-age)

Does scoliosis hurt:

Yes…mine did

Does the surgery hurt:

Yes.

Do you have a scar:

Yes, mine is very neat and apart from making me look even more like a doll, I’ve become quite fond of it

I think the US is more aware of scoliosis, but in the UK it’s still quite an ‘unusual’ thing to hear about. Honestly, it can be pretty debilitating; I was incredibly self conscious, in a lot of pain all the time and unable to do simple things like go for a run. I also felt like a totally freak, as the curve caused my body to look really weird and affected my mental health dramatically. 

Post op:

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Having said that, the surgery was one of the most amazing things to ever happen to me, not just because I was no longer in excruciating pain but the outcome was truly incredible. I looked completely different, I felt different, after the initial recovery I realised I was able to do so many things which my back had previously rendered me unable to pursue. As well as that, my relationships with friends and family grew even stronger as I was so weak I really had to rely on others (something I’m not good at) to get me through.

Yes, the surgery is extreme (I won’t go into details for the benefit of any screamish readers but you can google it…I actually watched the surgery on youtube before (not the whole thing, that’s about 6-8 hours) because I’m a pyscho) but it’s also totally necessary for some cases. 

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One of the main reasons I felt compelled to write this post is actually due to the girl who was in the bed opposite me…I don’t remember much about her at all because (fun fact) I actually had an allergic reaction to codeine and so basically blacked out for 3 months (another story for another time) but I do remember that she had refused to have her scoliosis monitored and therefore was essentially forced into surgery by her doctor as a ‘this is a life or death’ situation. The reason behind her thought process was because she didn’t want it to affect her horse riding. However, you can still horse ride with scoliosis (clearly I mean she managed it) and you can even do it after surgery (I have) but because she left it so late and her curve was so bad they actually had to fuse her spine from the back and front and do every ligament which means that no, she probably could not horse ride again. 

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Prevention is the main way scoliosis can be caught and treated effectively. My mum realised something was up when she walked behind me on the beach one day and saw that my shoulders were different heights. That was it, just a hunch. Here are some symptoms of scoliosis:

Family history

Abnormal posture

If your clothes fit asymmetrically (not in a subtle way either)

Severe back pain 

Fatigue

The majority of scoliosis cases (80%) do not end in surgery and aren’t a big deal but if you think you may have it or be at risk of having it then please see your doctor and just start getting it checked out as it could be the best and one of the most important decisions you ever make. 

2 Years (it’s now been 5) post surgery:

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For more information please visit Scoliosis Research Society

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