My Spinal Journey Part 1

As some of you may be aware I suffer from a severe case of scoliosis and in less than 2 days I will finally be going under the knife to fix this.

It’s a long story so grab a cup of tea.

What is Scoliosis?

“Scoliosis is a medical condition in which a person’s spine is curved from side to side. Although it is a complex three-dimensional deformity, on an X-ray, viewed from the rear, the spine of an individual with scoliosis may look more like an “S” or a “C”, rather than a straight line.”

Totally stolen from Wikipedia

How does it happen?

I suffer from Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis.

That statement means 2 things. First it started forming when I was a teenager and secondly they have no idea why it formed.

My mum first noticed it while we were traveling through England when I was 12 or 13. I came out of the shower warped in a towel and like any good mother told me to “stand up straight Stephanie”.

My response was a shocked and annoyed “I am standing up straight Mum”. This statement was followed by my mother’s signature “oh” used whenever something bad happens or she forgets to tell me important things.

Once returning to Australia we trotted off to the doctor to get it checked into.

My Auntie does suffer from Scoliosis as well but there is no proof that its genetic.

So what does my spine look like?

377608_483223908391578_876734091_nReal women have curves!

As you can tell from the above photo I have a massive thoracic curve of 84 degrees, a Lumbar curve of 40 degrees, cervical curve of 40 degrees as well a loin hump of approx 34 degrees.

So in easy to understand terms it curves a lot!

What are the side effects?

Besides the spine deciding to spell the first letter of my name there are several other side effects. Such as decreased lung capacity and back pain.

Some forms of scoliosis stop when you reach adulthood and your body has fulling formed. Sadly although my main thoracic curve has stayed relatively the same in the last 5 years my lumbar curve has increased by 10%.

What did we do about it?

After my first couple of x-rays and specialist appointments we were informed that my scoliosis had already progressed to around 45-50 degrees pushing my case into the moderate to severe category.

So after talking to the doctor about our options, surgery was deemed to much of a risk and we decided to try a brace.

What I got was called a Boston brace.boston-brace4  Oh how I loath thee

I wore the brace for 2 years but in the end it had little effect.

Now let’s be honest, I was a teenager and looking back now I wish I had been old enough and mature enough to comprehend my actions towards the brace.

I hated it. I wore it but not as much as I could have. I always slept in it but didn’t wear it to school as often as I should. Summer was the worst. It was painful, sweaty and I hated my body and the way it made me feel. When we finally came to the end of the 2 years I took a wooden hockey stick to it. Stupid thing didn’t even dent. It still lives in my garage in Canberra somewhere. Although I didn’t follow the instructions to the letter the brace was still not an answer to my scoliosis and as surgery was deemed to risky at the time I had little option but to live with it.

How does scoliosis make me feel?

Firstly lets start with the obvious question.

Does it hurt?

Short answer is yes, all the time. The long answer is more about the varying degrees of pain and were its located. In a nutshell, yes it hurts but it’s a pain I’ve come to live with everyday. It’s become normal to me.

How does it affect your view of yourself?

Being a teenager is hard enough, especially when you have depression to start off with. For a long time I hated my body, had very little self-esteem and developed an extroverted personality to counteract my original introverted nature. The more I was outgoing the less people looked at my back.

As I’ve aged I’ve become accustomed to my body. I still have body issues, some days its fine and others I want to physically plunge my hands into my body and move my spine.

For a long time I had no other option but to accept my body.

It was only recently that I have revisited the doctor to look at the options that may be available to me now as an adult.

This brings us to the end of part 1.

Part 2 will feature x-rays, photos and my steps leading to my surgery.

 

My surgery is on Wednesday the 10th July.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook to get updates.

 

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