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Scoliosis - the good, the bad and the brace!

I've had quite a few people come to talk to me about my back since my last post, primarily worried about teenage relatives so I figured why not get in a bit deeper. Obviously this isn't aimed at teens so it's not clean! #justsayin

Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine which is prevalent in girls although it can happen to guys too. It often develops in pre-teens and teenagers during the growth spurt which is when mine reared it's bendy little face. I distinctly remember being sat cross legged on the floor in front of Neighbours (standard!) and putting a hand on each side of my lower back and thinking 'oh thats weird'. Out I trotted to my Mum in the kitchen saying 'Muuuummm I can hold my spine in one hand and not the other' to which she replied 'Don't be so bloody stupid, turn around let me look'. After half an hour or making me touch my toes, she realised I hadn't been at the crack pipe and off we trotted to the doctor the very next day.

As a teenager it was painful. I had a thick plastic brace which went from the base of my spine to the base of my neck and finished under my boobs at the front. It was hot. It rubbed my skin off and left it raw. I had to wear a bodysuit underneath and then a t-shirt on top and then my school shirt to try and stop it sticking out. I had to stand and sit up really straight all the time otherwise the top edge poked out the back of my shirt. I remember a boy in my class punching me in the stomach once. He nearly broke his knuckles 😂. I hated wearing it, but if I didn't wear it I felt like my spine was collapsing. It was all in my head but I needed the brace on to feel supported. I stopped wearing it permanently at 18. It was optional from 16. I chose to wear it every night because I was paranoid it would get worse.

(I did you guys a little photo shoot in my brace.... get ready for what I think a catwalk model does!! Ha!)

Now they offered me the surgery, screwing rods to my spine. However I politely declined. Even from the age of 13, as a family we had decided that seen as it was potentially my muscles that were doing the wrong thing and pulling my spine to one side, it was a case of retraining them and training the other side to fire more effectively. We tried ultrasound, massage, aqua therapy, physiotherapy, rehabilitative exercises, stretching, electro muscle stimulation, yoga, pilates........ you name it we did it.

I danced from the age of 18 throughout my twenties. My back was up and down. Down being huge spasms and taking Tramadol (an opiate based painkiller) with Relentless Energy drinks before performing. I had a spasm one day out of the blue and I literally looked like an old woman, it was agony. I was hunched to one side, I couldn't lift my legs to get in and out of the car. I physically remember screaming in the car park at work trying to get one leg into the footwell. The doctor at the walk-in centre said it was the worst spasm they'd ever seen 🏆🏆. It lasted 3 days and I was stoned out of my tiny little mind on Diazepam, Tramadol and Co Drydamol. F#ck that shit. EVERYTHING pissed it off. Sitting on a chair with that bucket bit at the back, any car seat, wearing heels, wearing flats, sitting on the floor, standing too long, lying in bed for 30 minutes longer than it wanted. Something had to give. In the end, I had a cortizone injection in my spine, started working out more and I laid off the dancing a little in exchange for teaching dance fitness.

Lifting weights made me feel stronger. It made my core much tighter. I felt like I was wearing my own corset. Don't get me wrong I have fucked it up lifting in the gym.... slightly out posture on a moderately heavy deadlift when my back was in a shit mood and my workout was over. But I persevered and I even competed in a bikini competition just to prove that I could. That was big for me. Being basically naked with people judging the balance of my muscles. But I did it.

For me there are a few