Scoliosis: My Wild Adventure to a straighter back!

G’day my friends and welcome to another week and another blog!

This week we are talking all about spines.. No no not as in growing a backbone but the joys of Scoliosis!

I wouldn’t call myself an expert on the scientific reasons of scoliosis, but I did go through 8 hour scoliosis surgery and 12 weeks of rehab…

So I thought this week may be a little heavier as we delve into the realm of scoliosis and my story.

Let’s get cracking shall we?

Where it all began..

Pic from Pexels

Well it was a nice crisp morning……. Scratch that! I honestly don’t even know how long it was before we knew what was going on with my spine. However, it started as innocently as waking up with a sore back. I thought nothing of it because it wasn’t to painful but enough to notice it. This happened originally only a couple of mornings a week.

A few months later it started becoming more painful and more often. We thought it was my mattress so we invested, much to my delight at 11, a beautiful double bed ensemble!!! We all thought the back pain would stop. It did for a couple of days much to my disappointment.

Then out of nowhere it was like ‘sucked in!’ and decided to amp up the back pain and include pain when breathing. It was like someone was standing on my back while another person gave me the biggest and most painful bear hug. And the pain lasted longer each day.

It came to a point that it had been going on long enough that it was time to go and see the GP. A few x-rays and appointments later, and my Dr diagnosed me with Scoliosis. She wasn’t shocked as this condition impacts nearly everyone with MD.

She told us that the best spinal surgeon was a 2 hour drive away in Brisbane. We didn’t hesitate, asked for a referral and off we went to go see this doctor.

I was nervous about the trip given we would be potentially talking about surgery! However, I was talking to one of my old teachers about it, and she asked for the Specialist’s name. I said Dr Askin and she informed me that the Specialist I was going to be seeing operated on her many many many moons ago, and that he was second only to God. I knew then we had made the right call. He was shocked when i told him that he was apparently praised in the same sentence as God

One Scoliosis Appointment After Another

an x-ray of my spine post scoliosis surgery. you can see my ribs and two long rods running down my spine.
Check out the metal work! My spine post op! Doesn’t do the length of those screws justice!

I won’t bore you with the details on the many trips to Brisbane we had, as you are probably keen for the details of surgery day! However, I am always one for a good story.

It was pretty clear after my first appointment and another round of x-rays that seemed to take for ever, that wearing a brace to correct the curve was not an option. My curve was sitting around 56 degrees bending in one direction, so metal work was the answer.

We set the date and was all booked for the 2nd of April 2012 for spinal rodding. So for those who  have absolutely no clue what I am talking about… I have two titanium rods over halfway down my spine (for the interested folks it is T3 to L1 or in English it is the centre of my spine pretty much)  with screws drilled into my spine holding them in place! It isn’t as scary as it sounds!

The Mt Everest of Surgery and Rehab

me learning how to walk about post scoliosis surgery. I have my hair in to pig tails, i am wearing a purple and pink checkered shirt, black shorts and i am holding onto a walker.
One very grainy pic taken of me learning how to walk in the hospital again. Look how young i was!

For everyone who has had any form of surgery, the most challenging time is the 24-48 hours post op and the long road of rehab.

Being put under is a super scary feeling especially when you have poor lung function to begin with and any anaesthetic can be fatal to someone who has MD. I remember not getting sleep the night before and wishing the 2 hour car ride to the hospital would go on for ever.  To fix my scoliosis, the surgery took 8 hours and got the curve from 56 to 22 degrees, and added 3cm onto my height! Winning!

Although I had a reaction to one of the drugs they were giving me and it felt like I was covered in mosquito bites! My first words when I came to was ‘mum my nose is itchy’ as I was trying to scratch my nose through my oxygen mask.

After 2 or so days they removed all the tubes and wires which meant the road to rehab started. I could barley walk a few metres without feeling sick and like I was stuck to the floor. Each step it felt like my legs were 50kg of dead weight each. The downside to so many days bed rest and morphine.

I was discharged after 6 days in hospital which my Spinal surgeon said was a first. Usually the average time in hospital after scoliosis surgery was between 7 and 10. What can I say I am an overachiever.

It took me 12 or so weeks to get fully back to normal. I couldn’t swim for 6 weeks. Which for me at the time was a big deal as a swam every week. I had the same amount of time off school and was trying to do a little bit of work when I wasn’t fatigued from walking and pain.

I had to almost relearn how to walk again. It was a scary feeling not being able to walk the way I used to prior to the surgery. My Rehab was walking for originally 15 minutes and upping it by 1 minute every day until I reached 30 minutes.

You may be wondering if the pain is gone and I can wake up in the morning pain free. You are part right. I don’t wake up with back pain anymore! However, there are days were a screw will bump a nerve and it will send pins and needles kind of shooting pain down my back, and when that happens it really does hurt. I also deal with a lot of lower back pain as it is overcompensating for my upper half that no longer has to work as the titanium is doing it’s job. There are trade offs for everything!

However, that is worth being able to still walk and ride horses. I am grateful every day that I can still walk and do the things that I want to do (mostly that is) thanks to my metal work.

Surgery and rehab shows you what kind of person you are and the grit you have within. Allow it to turn you into a beast! You may find out what you are truly capable of!

Hope you all enjoyed! Catch ya next week! – Rhi

Check out my other post to read more about how i turn my struggles into a blessing!

1 thought on “Scoliosis: My Wild Adventure to a straighter back!”

  1. Pingback: Lumps, Bumps and Scars: The Stories they hold. - Living Abled

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