Scoliosis Awareness Month 2021 – Share Your Story: Chantelle

Hi, I’m Chantelle, a 17 year old student from Lincolnshire. 

My scoliosis story began in 2015, but I’ll start off with a little background as to how we got there. From the age of about 7, I have experienced chronic pain in my legs (mainly my hips as well as my knees and ankles).

Over the years, the doctors have just ignored it, claimed it’s growing pains or just knocked knees amongst other things. In 2015, aged 12, we decided enough was enough and got an appointment to see a lower limb orthopaedic specialist in Sheffield. It was at this appointment I was diagnosed with Femoral Anteversion (the cause of my chronic leg pain) and he also noticed my back and diagnosed me with Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis.

From here the consultant referred me to one of his colleagues, Mr Cole, at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. I was seen within a couple of months and he confirmed straight away I would need surgery, with my curvature already being in the 50°s.

Chantelle’s Scoliosis X-ray

Everything went very quick from here, I had a very fast progressing curve too so by the time I had my spinal fusion on 31st May 2016 my curves were 71° and 39° (a huge jump right, hence the rush and going from initial suspected diagnosis to surgery in the space of seven months). 

Pre-fusion I didn’t actually experience back pain, there was the odd occasion but nothing much. So on 31st May 2016 I was fused from T3-L2. My recovery went amazing, I was sitting, standing and taking steps the very next day and scoring extremely low on the pain scale (I literally did not feel very much pain at all), shocking everyone! I went home at 6 days post op and continued to recover well, it wasn’t actually until a year post op that I began to experience issues.

Chantelle’s post scoliosis surgery X-ray

There were no problems with my metalwork at all, I just started to experience chronic back pain. It was initially bearable and just gradually worsened. I did try physio and hydrotherapy at this stage, the physio was useless but the hydro was very limited in sessions. At two years post op I was discharged from the hospital disputing my continuing pain. At 3 years post op, I tried physio again, which has since been helpful and I’m still doing it. It’s certainly been a long road, although the physio doesn’t really help my pain, it has been beneficial. 

In the past year or so, my pain has gotten far far worse, with there being days it’s been physically impossible to sit up. I am managing it with pain medication but it’s very disheartening. I saw my surgeon again but he confirmed there is no issue he can identify and therefore it can’t be treated and will just always be a part of my life. 

The past few years haven’t been easy, they took a huge toll on my mental health and certainly didn’t make my education easy. However, despite all the issues with pain, I managed to complete all my GCSE’s, gaining grades 5-7 in all subjects, and being a top achiever at my school. This was a huge achievement for me, I pushed through the crippling pain and I achieved, not what I wanted to but I managed it!

Last year, I also did some fundraising which I’m super proud of. Over the month of June I set myself a walking challenge (very hard with my legs) and raised just over £1000 in total that was split between Scoliosis Campaign Fund, The Sick Children’s Trust and The Children’s Hospital Charity. 

This journey hasn’t been easy but I’m not giving up, scoliosis isn’t going to stop me. <3

Thank you Chantelle for sharing your story and helping to raise awareness of scoliosis 🙂

If you would like to share your own scoliosis story, please contact me via email or PM me on Instagram

Stay strong fellow warriors, 

Louise xoxo

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