June is Scoliosis Awareness Month

Hello!

  I was diagnosed with scoliosis in middles school. It was an ordinary day in Physical Education when they did the test. They made you bend down and traced your spine to see if there was an abnormal curvature. When they flagged my test, I honestly didn’t pay it any attention. It was when I went to see a chiropractor that it seemed pretty serious. My curve quickly escalated and he explained that surgery would be needed. Scoliosis can have an impact on some of your organs; specifically, your lungs.  The surgery consisted of placing titanium rods around the upper component of my spine to try to straighten out the curve. After my surgery, they gave me a long list of things I couldn’t do. It felt very pessimistic to be honest. Here I was, in a hospital bed recovering from a condition I had never heard about and they wanted to lecture me on what I couldn’t do for the rest of my life….needless to say I felt confused and sad at the time. 

  It’s been about twelve years since my surgery. Do I still have pain? Absolutely. Are there times I want to explain my pain to people but won’t because I know they won’t understand? Yes! So I decided to write a list of things you should feel free to do if you have scoliosis. Guilt free. Here it is: 

1. Being that I was in high school when I had my surgery, there was no way I could carry all of my books. I remember my mom calling the administrative team and telling them I needed to have a set of books on campus in each of my classes and a set at home. That way I wouldn’t have to carry books around and deal with the pain. Feel free to let people know what you  do. There’s a good chance they won’t get it. They may think you’re faking it but it worth it to not feel the pain at the end of the day while they are sleeping peacefully. 

2. I used to be athletic. I loved playing sports and used to dance as well. Scoliosis changed that for me. I still like to be active but I had to get creative. So feel free to think outside of the box to get exercise. Yoga has definitely helped me. I even run now (at my own pace).  Some people will try to force you to work out beyond your limits but you know what’s best. Trust what your body is telling you. 

3. I loved wearing heels but the truth is, the higher the heel, the more pain I have. I’m 5’8″.  There were times I felt like I was too tall. I knew I was always going to stand on the back row on picture day. I was tall and lanky. I finally accepted that in high school and then scoliosis happened. I wanted to wear heels and be tall and proud but the pain from heels made that pretty hard. So I had to wear flats, supportive sneakers or kitten heels. The truth is, you should feel free to know what’s best for you. I wear heels now(nothing higher than four inches) but I know that stilettos are out of the question for me. Trust what your body is telling you. 

4. There are times when people expect me to carry heavy items. I’ve always been independent so admitting that I can’t carry something is hard for me but I’ve learned you should know there is strength in asking for help. There’s nothing wrong with asking someone to help you. 

5. You should LOVE your scar. It took me a while. I didn’t want to wear tank tops or bathing suits because I knew someone would see my ugly scar. The truth is, scars are beautiful. They show what you’re made of so don’t be ashamed of yours. Wear it proudly. 

National Scoliosis Awareness Month

June is National Scoliosis Awareness Month. I was diagnosed with scoliosis when I was 14 years old. I’ll never forget that day. I was in gym class and they had specialists test everyone in my class ( back then they made you bend down to touch your toes while they traced your spine with their finger to see if it was a straight line). While they were tracing my spine, they knew something was wrong and referred me to a specialist. After getting the X-Rays back, I remember being speechless from the results. Not only was my spine crooked but the curve was progressing. Being that I was still growing, surgery was something that was probably going to happen. A surgery that consisted infusing rods around my spine. 

They kept their eyes on my curve over the next year and noticed that it was at an angle that could start to effect my heart and lungs and scheduled the surgery. I remember being so anxious while my mom was brave and really helped to comfort me. My surgery prep included donating blood to myself in case it was too much blood loss during my surgery. After the eight hour surgery, I was put in ICU. I couldn’t walked and was in so much pain. The next couple of months were filled with pain, changing my dressing on my scar and trying to get the strength to walk again. 

Once school started the next year, I had to have a separate set of books that I kept at home and in my teacher’s classrooms, I couldn’t wear heels or carry a purse. I got out of class earlier than other students because I took a long time to walk around campus and don’t even get me started on walking up the steps! 

I still have a scar on my back and I wear it proudly. I do have back pain. There are days I’m in so much pain that I’m in tears but yoga really helps with that. I have to be careful of the shoes I wear and the physical activity. There’s a long list of things I can’t do (including bowling).  I’m telling you my in hopes of raising awareness about scoliosis. Early detection is key! There are people who can’t  pay for surgery or a back brace and need resources to do so. If you want to donate or learn more about scoliosis, I encourage you to visit: http://www.scoliosis.org