Today I am one whole year post op from my scoliosis correction surgery and I honestly can’t believe how far I’ve come and what I’ve been through in just 12 months. This time last year I had not long woken up in HDU from the extensive 10 hour scoliosis surgery where two rods and 21 screws were inserted into my spine to correct my severe scoliosis curvature and change my life forever.
I will never forget that room, the sounds of the machines, the feel of the wires all over me, the voices, the hospital smells and the cloudy confusion in my head. I remember at that point I was too scared to even look into the future, merely focusing hour by hour on getting better.
If I look at my life as it is today, at that moment one year ago I never thought I would be able to achieve all that I have after such huge life changing surgery.
Really that moment was where my life began.
Today, I am taller, straighter and I am now working full time in a job I enjoy. I also study for a distance learning course and I even manage to go to the gym too! A few months after the surgery I was in so much pain I thought I’d never be able to work full time or even look at a gym again.
I won’t lie, it’s been a tough year for me physically and emotionally. I look back at the early stages of recovery and sometimes I can’t believe that I actually went through all that I did, or was even strong enough to. In a way I am proud of myself for having the courage and determination to get through it and get myself back to work and normality. It’s made me so strong as I now feel I can achieve anything I want to – after all – if I can get through such a massive surgery and come out the other side, I can deal with anything.
The first few weeks of recovery were the worst, I remember the first few days I was confined to my hospital bed and before surgery I never realised how hard that would be. I had never even been in hospital before so it was a bit of a shock! I couldn’t sit up by myself to eat, I couldn’t go to the toilet, I couldn’t even wash myself! After a few days in hospital, your dignity goes right out the window…
For the first few days I was very ill and couldn’t keep anything down. Believe me, when you have just had sections of 4 ribs removed (I also had a procedure called a ‘costoplasty‘ to reduce the appearance of my ‘rib hump’ which involved my surgeon cutting sections from my ribs) being sick is incredibly painful.
I had to have anti-sickness injections injected directly into the muscle of my thigh each time I was sick and I have never had an injection as excruciating as that in my life! I was also put on a drip as I wasn’t eating and as a result I lost half a stone. As the nurses were worried about me losing so much weight they monitored fluids going in and out of me (nice!) and made me see a nutritionist who prescribed me these disgusting drinks, which apparently had 300 calories per bottle, but they also made me sick!
The situation was not helped by me being in a ward full of women who were not as ill as me and who constantly talked about food… ‘oooh this cake is lovely, I wasn’t fond of the soup tho’ not what you need when the thought of food makes you want to vomit…
I remember lying there one night just praying that one day I’d be able to get out of bed by myself and walk to the toilet – that’s all I wanted. I was actually jealous of other patients in my ward that were getting out of bed by themselves and walking about – as at that point I honestly couldn’t imagine ever being able to do it again.
I will cover my two weeks in hospital following the surgery in more detail in further posts but I just wanted to highlight that going through this surgery has really made me appreciate being able to do small things like that. Things I used to take for granted everyday.
Today, I still find it hard doing some things like getting dressed (try getting dressed without bending your back – not easy!) bending down, tying my shoelaces and putting tights and socks on but with each month things get easier. I have just learnt to adapt how I do things now.
Again, when I look back to a few months post op where I had to use a grabber to pick things up, a raised toilet seat and I couldn’t even get low enough to sit on the sofa, I realise how far I’ve come.
I remember almost crying a few months ago when I had my first night out since surgery and actually danced again, something I never thought I’d be able to do at one point.
Even after a year, I am not 100% back to “normal” and I sometimes wonder if I ever will be. I still feel stiff (like I have metal rods in my back!) and get sore after a long day or if I am on my feet a lot but I am just so thankful that I’ve come out of this surgery and can do all the things I used to do.
It has been tough emotionally on me too, my body changed shape overnight and psychologically this was and still is very difficult for me to deal with. I guess I feel like a different person, like this is not my body. I still check my back in the mirror everyday and worry it will go back to how it was but I have to believe that the metalwork inside me is strong and will hold everything in place.
I wanted to prove with this post that, you CAN lead a normal life after scoliosis surgery, it just takes time to recover. You might not see an improvement week by week during recovery from this surgery, which can be incredibly frustrating, but if you look back months you will notice how you are slowly doing more than you first could.
This always makes me think of one of my favourite quotes, ‘you can’t see the view if you don’t climb the mountain.’
Here is photograph of my back before and after scoliosis surgery for comparison – I can’t believe the difference to be honest!
Anyway, I’m off to eat the Haribo cake I was bought to celebrate my one year “rod-i-versay” – yummy 😉
Bye for now!
I had scoliosis surgery in 2010 and blog about my experiences living with scoliosis. My aim is to raise awareness of scoliosis and help and inspire others with the condition.