Your spine is like an aging dock. It's planted firmly in the ground assessing the ever changing world in which we live. Like a human who ages, the environmental factors change this once beautiful and sturdy plank into a deteriorating hunk of rotting wood. Once trusted by man to keep him from sinking into the deep, it is now no longer trusted to carry the weight that it once could. Weaker and weaker it becomes as the days pass. Creaking and moaning with the constant strain of wanting to give in and collapse beneath them. Until one day, a storm comes that bends and twists this once faithful dock into an abominable heap that can longer be trusted to withstand time. Two choices then become present: either leave it alone and eventually it will rot away or rebuild. This is where my story begins...
What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis (from Ancient Greek: σκολίωσις skoliosis "obliquity, bending") is a medical condition in which a person's spine is curved from side to side. Scoliosis is a condition involving an abnormal sideways curvature of the spine. It can be caused by congenital, developmental or degenerative problems, but most cases of scoliosis actually have no known cause called idiopathic scoliosis. Scoliosis usually develops in the thoracic spine or the thoracolumbar area of the spine. The curvature of the back may develop as a single curve (shaped like the letter C) or as two curves (shaped like the letter S). Scoliosis appears during adolescence and indicators include unevenness in the shoulder height, shoulder blades, rib cages and hips. For adolescents, treatment usually involves bracing treatment with a thoracolumbar sacral orthosis brace or Charleston bending brace to stop curve progression (Spine Health, 2022).
When I was 12 years old, I was diagnosed with Scoliosis. Like many tween girls, I was busy trying to fit in and not to embarrass myself too bad in front of all the cute boys. I was involved in many activities and attempting to be in another (Cheerleading). There was a nurse who came to my P.E. class and one-by-one checked all my classmates for something called Scoliosis. She made us bend over and used something that looked like a level to see if our spines were crooked. Low and behold, I was the only person in my class that had an uneven back I was recommended to go to a doctor to have it checked out.
Once at the Orthopedic office, the doctor told my mother and I that I had a curve that looked like an "S". It was 42 degrees according to the Cobb angle. It was recommended that I wear a back brace and be monitored. Let's just say that I was hard headed and refused to wear one.
I went to a couple of doctors to get different opinions. Eventually years went by and my Scoliosis progressed. It was now 48 degrees and surgery was recommended. I was devastated. I was 16 years old at the time and emotionally unstable. I cried and cried because the doctor told me I'd have to learn to walk again. I'd be in the hospital for a couple of weeks. That they'd remove some hip bone to create cement to fuse the rods to my spine. I was horrified! I wasn't mentally positive or ready to do something like that.
My next visit at 17 years old was the same. Except the doctor said my spine seemed stable and that I was to be monitored every 5 years. I thought that was wonderful! I was relieved. But, fast forward through college, parties, moving to Florida, meeting my wonderful boyfriend, working, and having my beautiful son. It's been 11 years. Yes, I said 11. I was way overdue for a doctor visit!
Back pain was always present. After I had my son and became a dental assistant it got worse. The work that I did seemed to affect it more. I was sore, numb, aching, and felt like I was on fire all at the same time. I even began losing patience with my son who was now 4 1/2. I was too tired to play with him. I would cry in the shower since no one was around me because the pain was so bad. I HATED to tell anyone my back hurt. Even my mother or father of my child whom I've been with for 7 years. I didn't like to be seen as weak, frail or a freak. Which I have been called that a couple of times too.
Last Tuesday, June 11th of 2013, I will not forget. I went to an Orthopedic surgeon to be evaluated and had a bit of a jolt into reality. One that I have no choice but to face head on or face my own slow and painful decay. This is my journey with Scoliosis and the new diagnosis of Kyphoscoliosis.
Kyphosis is a curving of the spine that causes a bowing or rounding of the back, which leads to a hunchback or slouching posture.
Lordosis is the inward curvature of a portion of the lumbar and cervical vertebral column.
Health, S. (2022). Scoliosis. Spine Health. Retrieved January 8, 2022, from https://www.spine-health.com/glossary/scoliosis
*Scoliosis Artwork by Emma Craig