A blog for fashion, beauty, hair, cosmetics and lifestyle

10 Apr 2012

Personal Post: My Scoliosis Operation

EDIT - This post was published on my blog first 2 years ago but after a post by Katie, I realised it hadn't transferred to my new blog. Boo! Here it is again

Sorry if this kind of thing bores you, but I wanted to have a little talk about a really common condition called Scoliosis, which can affect young girls' body image and happiness. Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine and also twisting of the spine so that one shoulder blade sticks out. I felt like a total freaky hunchback. Disgusting!

However, 8 years ago , I had a massive spinal fusion operation to correct my scoliosis. It changed my life! - best decision I ever made! My back used to look like this (this isn't my x-ray - they lost mine, but mine looked just like it)


Scary isn't it? I had 2 curves, the top one was bigger than the bottom for me though. I felt like such a freak and had to wear a back brace. Luckily kids at school was kind (apart from one, but he was an idiot anyway and I didn't expect any more from him). So in the summer holidays between high school and college, I had a massive operation to straighten my spine!

This is how it looks now! AMAZING! These x-rays are actually mine

And after 6 years this is how my scar looks (this is the brave part - lots of compliments please!)


It's healed really well actually!

To all girls out there who are considering or waiting for the operation - I'd say do it. It is the only cure after all. A lot of blogs, facebook groups and support sites will have women on there who say "the op is terrible and you'll be paralysed - try having some reflexology" or something similar, but just remember that chiropracty does not fix the problem! But it is your own personal choice and you have to be totally sure you want it, because there is pain involved and a long time off (although I started college again in normal time,, and actually went shopping a day after getting out of hospital, although I did have to lie down in the M&S changing room! And another girl I know went clubbing about a month or so after the op!). 

I personally had the operation because after reading research, I heard that a curve can often get really bad in women around the age of menopause, so I didn't want to end up like those bent over old women you see in the street sometimes; and also because I was in a back brace for years, and I was in pain and uncomfortable. Happily though, since having the operation I haven't been in pain! I get tired sometimes and need a sit down, but it isn't like before. And the best part - I'm not a freak anymore. As you can see from above, I have a nice normal looking back. No humpback! (actually, the right shoulder blade which used to stick out now looks further in than the left, but that might be how I hold myself) and I have a perfect posture! I also love my scar and I love to show off how perfect my back is. My confidence went sky-high!


Edit: For everyone who keeps emailing me about who did my surgery. His name is Mr Nick Boeree and you can find him here, who I just found out sadly died. I owe him so much, he changed my life and I thank him every day

What do you think? Do you have scoliosis? To any girls out there who have questions or want to talk, just email me lauren@laurenlovesblog.com and I will be more than happy to answer any questions. If you're looking for more Scoliosis blog inspiration, check out Chrissy's blog Scoliosis Birdy as she talks us through her scoliosis story, from pre-op to post-op.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - This is based on the questions I get emailed all the time by girls who need support and made me realise that there really isn't enough information on this post. Feel free to email more questions.

1. Is it dangerousYes - like with any operation there are risks, but you'll have to talk to your surgeon about that. Sometimes you just have to weigh up the pros and cons. Yes I might be in more pain when I get pregnant, I might not be able to have an epidural; maybe there is some truth in the theory that one day I'll get a bad back in the parts that I can move, because I move them more than I should to compensate for the fused area... but I weighed all this up and thought that I'd rather not be in pain, be pretty and confident in my younger years and I didn't want to risk going through the menopause un-fused due to the high rates of scoliosis getting worse after menopause.

2. How was your recovery and how are things going now? The surgery went really well, I had it in the summer holidays between high school and college. I was in hospital for just over a week, on morphine for the first few days so I really can't remember anything! I was in a back brace for 6 weeks after, just because I went straight back to college and didn't want to get bumped in the corridor by other people. I was recovered really quickly, although I would get tired quite quickly - I actually went shopping with my mum the day after I came out of hospital but had to lie down in the changing room for a bit! I'm so happy I had it done though, it's changed my life so much - I've not had pain really since the operation, sometimes my back feels "tired" if I'm standing up all day but only to the extent that any other person gets tired. I've since been trampolineing, dancing, done yoga and lived a completely normal life. 

3. Does it feel strange having your spine straight all the time? Describing how it feels is really hard so I hope this makes sense: it's not uncomfortable sitting up - it sounds really crazy but I'm very comfortable. I guess it's because I can't slouch, I don't feel I'm missing out, I can kinda slouch a tiny bit but it looks like I'm sitting up straight, yet it's comfortable. I guess I'm just leaning on the rods? It was weird at first being so straight, I would walk really tall, and it feels really strange that all of a sudden your back muscles are working in the way they should have been all along, but you get used to it really quickly! It becomes totally normal and I don't feel odd. I guess because I can't bend my back at all due to the rods, I don't feel I'm missing anything. I guess the best way to describe it is like your thigh bone - you can't bend it, but you also don't feel like you want to. I don't feel like I want to slouch, I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything!

4. I'm worried about scarring - how did you get yours to heal so well?As soon as the scabs were gone and I was completely healed, my mum started massaging in BioOil every night for 10 minutes. The massage felt strange - I hate people touching my back because I have mixed up sensations and referred sensations but I knew it was the best thing to do to get the blood flowing to the scar and help the tissues heal. Also BioOil is AMAZING and contains Vitamin E to help scars heal. I'd really recommend it.

5. Has your life changed since the operation? Only in that I feel more confident, I'm not in pain anymore and I don't feel like an ugly hunch back! I have to look after myself - no heavy lifting, be careful about bending too fast. I'm lucky to have family, friends who all check the things I'm lifting and tell me off or take it away from me before I hurt myself!All I'll say is DON'T EVER let it stop you from doing anything or make you give up anything. I have carried on like I always did, through uni and work and active jobs. I know other girls who've let the operation take over and they've given up things because they're too scared to try but don't let that happen. I took up yoga 6 months after the op and it deficiently was scary to try and move my back, because I was so scared to hurt myself but it really helped with my flexibility and muscles because you have to use your back muscles to look after yourself and hold your spine in the right position - just use them gently. Functionally - I started college less than 6 weeks after the operation and although I had to be careful not to walk on the playground and get hit by a ball, I was back to normal and didn't really need much support other than maybe moral! The only thing it really limits is my driving - I drive like a normal person but when I reverse I rely on my mirrors because I can't turn round, but I also think I'm more observant to traffic around because I have to be.


If you have any questions, just ask :-)
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47 comments

  1. Oh my, you must be a very strong person to get through all that! Really, your scar is hardly visible, I wouldn't have noticed it :)

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  2. I'm afraid to say Nick Boeree the fantstic surgeon passed away a few weeks ago following a motorcycle accident. He had performed life changing surgery on me in the past. CH.

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  3. Oh that's so sad - I'm very upset and also feel so lucky he changed my life. Thank you so much for letting me know xxx

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  4. Ms. Lauren.

    My 15-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Scoliosis today. We are all very scared. Her curve looks like yours, but it's in the opposite direction.

    Thank you for giving us hope.

    Melissa Zamora
    Brownsville, Texas

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  5. thanks for the encouragement... i have scoliosis and the curve is exactly like yours. the condition has rendered me paraplegic. how i wish for the operation so that i can walk again ( i cant afford the operation i am in Kenya- Africa...sob.

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  6. ThnX Ms.Lauren for giving me some hope.
    I'm 25 days post op and I feel terrified and depressed. I always say to my self I wish I didn't do the surgery ,because of the pain I'm feeling. Before the surgery I didn't have much pain, because my curve was only 43 and now I'm blaming my self for this decision. Sometimes I said to my self I will wait for 1 year for the pain to go and if it didn't go I'll do other surgery to take the rods out and I don't now if it will have sides effects.
    Any advice?

    Sco-girl from Arab world

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  7. Thanks for the encouragemnet Lauren..
    My 12 year old daughter had scoliosis surgery done just 50 days ago july 10th 2012 in Mexico City she had a similar S shape on her back spine part affecting the right lung and a big hump sticking out with 68° degree. i have read all about scoliosis and all the types of surgery methods used since 1940 and all the doctors who created such methods of surgery instrumentations in order to know which is the most common use and safer i read many stories from many countries to know the feeling and the risk that this operation is. i have decided to watch the operation on line to understand all the types of procedure to prepare myself ( my wife and daughter never saw the surgery on line)the doctors have explain to us the surgery method and risk of this surgery but we were confident on the decision we took together with our daugther and we ask god to and with the support from family and friends and good wishes from all she come out well.. finally the surgery was susscefully she has two rods and 22 screws implanted on her spine now she is recovering well, her back and hips look straighter than before is not she went from 68° to 15° i think we took the right decision after all the investigation we did so, now is a matter of going back to normal life with precautions with recovering and the support from rehabilitation that she must have to get back to school and her normal life.

    Marcelo Prieto
    Mexico City

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  8. My daughter is 30( thirty) year old and is affected by scoliosis. Can she undergo the surgery at this stage

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  9. My daughter is 30( thirty) year old and is affected by scoliosis. Can she undergo the surgery at this stage

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  10. great post, its really motivate the persons who suffering with this problem(scoliosis...

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  11. Not all people are candidate for this type of surgery, the best is to have her evaluated first with speciaist doctors for scoliosis to determine the degree of curvature.

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  12. HI! I have scoliosis too! Your scar looks great! Can you please tell me what you did to it? How long after was the picture taken from when you had the surgery? Did you wear sun tops if yes for how long? Any secrets that you can give up would really help me! Thank you soosososo much!!!

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  13. do you have flexibility ? or you are all the time without move you ? i'm a gymnast and i'm so scared because i don't wanna lose my flexibility

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  14. I don't have any flexibility in my back Alejandra, probably best to ask your surgeon x

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  15. do you think you can do ballet ? or the operation don't let it go ? i'm a ballet dancer but in a month i'm gonna get a scoliosis operation, and i'm scared

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  16. It's really nice to see that other people have been through it as well, thank you for sharing.

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  18. What a great post. I an see that it is helping people, and also helping their families. It can't have been easy to go through, or to share your story. Thank you so much, and I am glad that you are ok now :) xx

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  19. Hey Lauren

    I'm Melissa, a 17 years old girl from Belgium and I'm also a scoliosis patient. The diagnose came when I was ten years old. I went to the hospital and I had to wear a corset (a sort of brace for my bag). I wore that corset for three years. In the beginning, my curve went smaller, but a couple of years later, it went bigger again. The doctors discussed a lot but they came to the decision that I needed a surgery. At that time, I was about 13 years old. The surgery was very hard. It lasted about eight hours. I was lying a week in the hospital. After my operation, I couldn’t exercise and couldn’t carry anything for a year. Now, I’m three years and a half post operation. I’ve never had pain before my operation and I never had pain after (except for the first weeks after my surgery). I really enjoyed to read your story! I think it’s very interesting. I also like your comparison with a thigh bone. Actually, it really feels like that. How do you feel now? do you have a lot of pain?

    Melissa

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing your positive story! I'm glad you're recovered well. I feel good now - I do a lot of activity and don't get pain either! Sometimes I get "tired" and need to sit down but rarely pain that can't be fixed by standing up or having a walk. I did get into a car crash 18 months ago and whiplash went to my waist so I needed physiotherapy but I'm ok now x

      Delete
  20. Hello, I have a very bad condition of scoliosis and I'm contemplating getting the spinal fusion surgery and I just wanted to know how limited your upper body is with movement. I'm most scared about not being able to move like I can now... Well that and the big scar down my back

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    Replies
    1. Hi Cady, sorry to hear you have to have the op too. My decision to have it done was based on weighing up the pros and cons. It went a lot like this:
      Pros:
      - I won't be in as much pain
      - it won't get worse when I hit menopause
      - I'll have a lovely posture and no much hunchback
      - I will feel normal and never have to worry about my back again

      Cons:
      - Big scar (but it will look cool and I have a great story)
      - Back is less flexible (but I can still do yoga, go to the gym 4 times a week, play netball, have a normal life and have loads of fun. People only think I have a great posture and don't think I look wierd and not bendy. Gets me out of things I don't want to do like carrying heavy things!)

      I hope my pro and con list helped, maybe make your own and consider your options. I would always say the op was the best decision I ever made and I never regret having it done. I love my scar (cooler than a tattoo) and live a normal, full life. Plus I haven't been in as much pain since and love having a straight back without a hunch where my shoulder blade stuck out.

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