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Scoliosis + Me

scoliosis, curvature of the spine
There was a time that I was lucky enough not to properly understand back pain. It was easy for me to perhaps judge others who suffered with it and to not take the time to understand just how painful it could be. There was a time that I didn't know or care what scoliosis was. Those times are gone and have been gone for close to four years..

This is my story of my experience with back pain, I have written this in the hope that anyone searching the Internet for answers when it comes to living with back pain comes across this post and realises that as bad as it can seem in a moment, life does honestly get better.

The beginning: 

In 2009 I started a new job, I went from being constantly active at work to sitting down all day, this is when the pain started. At first it was just back pain, a small amount, nothing overly concerning. But it was new - I'd never had any back pain before {well, certainly not any that I could remember}. I adjusted the way I would sit and pretty much 'put up with it'. But it got bad.. a lot worse, eventually I had enough -  I left work early and made an appointment with the Doctor. The Doctor took one look at me and told me to 'Go and put some weight on and then come back in 6 weeks', apparently if I didn't put weight on my bones would become brittle and I'd suffer a lot more. She never checked my back and really wasn't very interested. I left in tears, because honestly the pain was terrible and I needed help, help that she was just wasn't prepared to give..

Physio & an answer:

Thankfully, I'm lucky enough that my employer has it's own occupational health unit and my supervisor at the time sent me to see the Doctor, he promptly sent me for private physiotherapy to help with the pain. I got 6 sessions free through work and I was naive enough at the time to think that just one session would sort out my pain once and for all. Of course this wasn't the case. 
The physio was great and the physiotherapist was lovely and very understanding {She had such a different approach then my own Doctor had}. She would massage me where I was in pain and would teach me exercises to help me manage the pain for when I was at home/work.
She also found the root of my pain....
I was suffering with pain due to Scoliosis.


Accepting Scoliosis & learning to live with pain:

I soon used up all my free sessions and was trying very hard to adapt to living with the pain from my scoliosis, by then the pain was every single day and boy was it intense! I did my research: I learnt that scoliosis was a curvature of the spine, I read forums and web page after web page of definitions and 'treatments', I soon realised that there was no 'treatment' - when a bone is bent it's bent. 

The pulling and over stretching of my muscles to compensate for the curvature was sending my muscles into spasm. My upper back was in agony, my neck was in agony. I had more muscle knots then I knew. I had gone from being 'normal' to in pain every single day. I got depressed and obsessed over finding answers that didn't exist, I took so much sick time off of work and suffered with major anxiety and stress over this. I knew I was doing all I could but I didn't expect work and colleagues to understand that, I thought nobody could understand not even Adam. I was so worried and felt isolated and honestly, so alone.

Adam did all he could to help me, there were days he would get frustrated.. I now realise he just didn't want to see me in pain and was as frustrated as I was that the pain wouldn't go. We brought ice packs and heat packs, a wheat bag, vitamins, a tens machine, we went swimming, he gave me massages, I took my prescribed tablets and did my exercises, I reduced my hours at work, we went for scans {and was told that my curvature was not big enough to be operated on} and endless appointments, work even brought me my own chair and had it specially designed for my back, but nothing helped and we felt like we were banging our heads against the wall.  I would cry in pain at work and spend my breaks alone in a 'rest room' doing my back exercises. I really did go through a stage of feeling low.

Coping through Chiropractic treatments:

It was Adam that booked my first appointment with the chiropractor. I was scared of having my back 'cracked' and manipulated, but I was desperate. In the beginning I would go every week. It was £35 in each time, but my chiropractor was so understanding and friendly and would often not charge me in between sessions which I was so thankful for. Honestly, out of everything I've ever tried to help my back pain - it has been chiropractic treatment has been the best thing for it. It's not cheap when you have to go a lot like I did but for me it was worth it. It got me back to work but it wasn't enough and in the end I was forced to ask to be redeployed from my job role at the time.

Redeployment: 

I was redeployed to my current role, a role where I was able to be active again, this helped so much! My back could not take long periods of sitting. I went up to full time working, I still suffered with the spasms and the pain but it was much more manageable. 

I learnt that my pain was less intense when I sat with my legs up {strange, but true} - so I got a leg stool and I eat dinner with my legs up everyday. I learnt that my spasms would come on when I would write or look down, so I got a writing tool that was almost vertical which I could lean against to write on. Anything I could do to avoid writing helped so I got trained up to use certain systems at work so that I didn't have to fill out forms manually - I did it digitally instead. I've been incredibly lucky with work, they have been so understanding and my current manager has been nothing but supportive. In return I have pushed myself to be in work every day that I can and have  been completely honest with them, I've been flexible with them as they are flexible with me. I am very lucky and I appreciate this fully. 

Right now:

I was worried that getting pregnant would make my pain so much worse, but on the whole I've been okay. I've had a few periods of really bad pain where the bump is growing which have been quite intense, because of this I have reduced my hours at work this has helped me so so much throughout the pregnancy. 

Lower back pain has made an appearance, as it does for most pregnant women, but as painful as it can be it's nothing compared to my upper back pain from my scoliosis.
I'm currently working at a less stressful office and I've seen a massive improvement because of this. Stress doesn't cause my pain but it certainly doesn't help it. 
I have an appointment with the anaesthetist on Thursday to discuss any impact my scoliosis will have during childbirth, but I have a feeling that I'll be okay. 
Things are so much more positive in my life now, I have learnt to live with my back pain and have accepted it {which is something I really struggled with for a long time}. I've adapted my life a little so that I can manage my pain. Being pregnant has taken my mind off of myself and my pain, I now have something and someone else to focus on.

Yes, it hurts when I go out for meals and have to sit 'normally' against chairs that hurt me, yes I struggle to go to the cinema and sit throughout a film. I can't sit at dinner tables without sending my back into spasm, I can't write or wrap presents without pain. I will always have to take random days off of work because my pain sometimes becomes unbearable and it'll be like this for the rest of my life. Yes, I'm hurting right now as I type this. I know I'll struggle to bath my baby and play games on the floor with him, I'll struggle to change his nappy and carry him, but am I worried about any of this? 

No. I have accepted that this is part of who I am, it's part of me. 

My answer to all of the above.. 
I will do what I can, I will push myself even if it hurts but know when it's too much. I will remember that other people face daily challenges like I do everyday and that so many people are in much worse situations.

Ultimately I will not let pain define me, it's part of me but it's not who I am.

Life is good, in fact life has never been better. I have so much and so much to look forward to and despite the low times I've had in the past with my back.. Right now - I think I might just be the happiest girl alive!


5 comments

  1. Hiya Alex.

    I'm Louise and I blog over at Confessions of a Secret Shopper.

    I too have scoliosis, my dance teacher first realised when I was 14 so I've now known about it for 14 years. At first I led a normal life, I could see that I stood a little differently to other people but it didn't bother me. It's been these past 3-4 years where I've really noticed a difference. I can no longer wear tight fitting clothes as I can instantly see where my hip sticks out, I kind of hunch my shoulders a lot and the pain is tremendous at times. I was forced to cut down my working hours last year and it's been a struggle but I'd rather not be sat at work in tears every day.

    I am currently 31 weeks pregnant with my 2nd child and so far it's been good. I've hardly suffered with back pain (the morning sickness and exhaustion has more than made up for it though lol). I was really worried that I'd be in agony. I just hope that the labour goes well. I fully expect the pain to return once baby gets here though.

    If you ever need anyone to talk to about your condition feel free to give me a shout. I don't know much - just things like how I cope etc but sometimes it helps just to know that there are others in a similar situation.

    Great blog by the way, I am now following :D

    Louise x

    Confessions of a Secret Shopper

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    Replies
    1. Hi Louise,

      Thank you for your reply and I'm so sorry it took me so long to get back to you.

      It sounds like we are in a very similar situation in regards to our {extremely annoying} backs! What do you turn to when your in agony? As I said in my post I use the chiropractor which helps, but I haven't been whilst pregnant {only at the very start}, because I know I can't lay on my front and therefore feel for the money I wont get the full benefit. My Husband has been massaging me lately as because the bumps got so big my back is responding terribly. I'll be interested to find out what happens after baby is born and during the labour.

      Thanks for following!

      Alex xo

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  2. Thanks so much for sharing this post. My sister was just diagnosed, and is about to begin treatment for her scoliosis, so I've been trying to read more about it to get a better understanding of what she is going through. I will definitely send her the link to this post; very well written, and so inspiring. Thanks again!

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