My Scoliosis

Quick information about scoliosis – fancy word for curvature of the spine. Depending on the severity of it, will depend on if no treatment is necessary or someone may need a back brace or in severe cases (like mine) will need surgery.

I found out when I was about 10 years old (in 6th grade) that I had scoliosis. Don’t let the schools fool you because even Doctors will tell you most of the time, the school will not catch it! I was stretching one day (at the time I was involved in gymnastic, dance, and some other sports), and my mom noticed a hump on my back (right shoulder) when I would lean forward to stretch. I remember us even laughing at it like what the heck is that?! Then in gymnastics, we would notice when I did the bars, my hips wouldn’t be even, so I was slightly slanted when my arms were extended. Took me to a Doctor and several x-rays later, found out that I not only had 1 curvature but 2 – my back literally was more in a shape of an “S” than it was straight. This is genetic and is hereditary, but the weird part is no one in my family has ever needed surgery for it – they just have been told to “keep an eye on it” but been fine. And it is rare at that (in my family), not a lot of my extended family members have it nor anyone in my immediate family had it. We THINK it had to do with gymnastics and all the bending made it worse but that is just an assumption (because we really have no clue why mine got so bad).

I spent my 7th grade year going every couple of weeks to donate blood that was kept for me, so when I had surgery, I didn’t need a blood transfusion from a stranger – they used my own blood. I can’t tell you how many times I went (A LOT) nor how many x-rays I have had done. Every day I had to take iron pills and at this time I had a hard time swallowing them, so I learned to take them by wrapping the pill in ice cream and then swallowing it all as a whole. I didn’t experience any pain in my back and physically (even now) can’t tell I have it unless you really look at my shoulders, then you may notice one is slightly shorter than the other one. Day before my surgery (which was done when I was 12 years old, 7th going into my 8th grade year) I spent outside, walking down my street in a back walk over and doing back handsprings in my yard – because I knew that was the last day I would ever be able to do anything like that again.

My surgery was over 12 hours, can’t remember exactly the time but when I woke up my parents said my face was unrecognizable. I had to lay obviously flat on my face and it was swollen – I told them they should have taken pictures of me, but they didn’t. They took a hip bone out and put it in my back, I was asked if I wanted a hip or rib – I went with the hip because at the time I was thinking I only wanted to be cut open in the back and not the front. I spent 3 days in the ICU and all I can remember is the nurses’ fridge staring at me, loaded with a bunch of drinks! I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything in those 3 days since my stomach was asleep. All I had were these lemon sticks that were supposed to be used to only wet my mouth (so it wasn’t dry). Let me tell you – I would suck those sour bad boys even though I wasn’t supposed to – I was just soooo thirsty!!!! Anyways, moved out of the ICU and then went to a room for 1 week. When it was my first time trying to get out of bed, I remember falling down on my mom because my back was straight and heavy (felt as if my back was tied to a big thick metal plate). I won’t go into all the details but after 7 days and being able to walk (slowly) around the floor twice, I was released! From then, I wasn’t allowed to run for 6 months and no contact sports for 1 year.

21 years later – I experience back pain every once in a while. I am not sure how often the average person experiences back pain, but I am probably a little more than the average person. It doesn’t get to the point of being that bad where I take pain meds, but I have been told I have a high pain tolerance. Also, I don’t want to be dependent on the medicine. I won’t go to chiropractors or do massages because I just don’t trust people with my back. I have also stayed away from fitness trainers because most don’t deal with someone that is limited like I am. I lost a lot of my flexibility HOWEVER; I won’t let it stop me from doing stretches and other things that still allows me to be somewhat flexible. I won’t let myself use it as an excuse basically, BUT there are times when I just can’t physically do a certain stretch or activity. Like I said, majority of people don’t know I have it unless I tell them. Which probably is a little bothersome at times, because people expect me to be able to handle what a “normal” person can do because they can’t “see” what limits me.

I know I will have chronic back pain as a result, but I don’t put too much energy into that thought because the more energy – the more it will manifest. Sometimes when I stand still for too long, I start feeling the pain or randomly while walking, I get some pain (mostly in my lower back/hip area). I have to be more mindful of the stress I put on my back (ex. heavy lifting or twisting). It did limit me when I delivered my children. I can’t have an epidural because the “spot” needed for the needle to be inserted is all fused together. I tried with my first and geez louise did that hurt! I didn’t even try with my other two. So in summary –  for the most part, I live without a whole lot of limitations and I am just thankful for being able to do that!

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