First blog post! Scary stuff!
I suppose the best place to start is the beginning but I will try to keep it brief, don’t worry haha! I’ll split it up into sections so it is easier to follow. Feel free to ask any questions below and I will do my best to answer them 😊
So, I had corrective spinal surgery for scoliosis 30th September 2010 which was a couple of weeks after I started college. This was a pretty crazy time making new friends and trying to find a place to fit in, although I was pretty lucky that a lot of my school and swimming friends went to the same college as me. Taking three weeks off to recover would have been much more difficult without their messages of support and a couple of visits with class notes (special mention to my best friend Alice who I only met two weeks before my surgery but she still made a special effort to come and visit me and help me catch up on what I had missed! 6.5 years later we still do most things together haha!). Missing some college turned out to be no problem at all, I caught up quickly thanks to the people around me. The thing everyone noticed was that I grew a few inches pretty much over night, and for someone who is now still only 5″3, that was a very big deal!
The worst thing about going back to college was the first few bus journeys to and from which made me a bag of nerves for the first couple of weeks being back. I could feel every bump in the road from the seat to the top of my neck, it felt like I could even feel the wheels going over a piece of chewing gum it was that sensitive! I guess this was due to my muscles and nerves being hyper-alert to movements as they tried to repair themselves.
As you may have read in my About section, I grew up swimming competitively at a national level from age 7 to 16 which was the best thing that I could ever have wished for my childhood. It taught me the values of hard work, accountability, team-work, life-long friendships, travelling for competitions away from home and how to give the best pool-side massages, amongst countless others. Through the endless laughs, tears and sweat, I had the time of my life (perhaps this could be another post).
I never had any pain through my scoliosis but I think that was down to being sooo active – I was never just sat still watching TV for more than 20 minutes in the evenings – so that was probably why it took so long to get diagnosed. By swimming 10 times a week for 2.5 hours at a time, my spinal muscles were as strong as they could be, and I am convinced that is why I was back to college only 3 weeks after surgery. Having the surgery obviously made me take a break from training, little did I know at the time that this wasn’t a ‘break’ at all – that was it. I never went back to training full-time and I never competed again. In January 2011, I had a meeting with my coach and I decided that I wouldn’t be coming back as the pressures of college and a new-found social-life would have been too much to handle.
With so much free-time and a new-fangled social life to maintain, it was time for me to get a job. I started working in Subway and then found a job in Asda which has seen me through till now. I have to be honest, my scoliosis has never caused any major problems at work. The only thing that I have found, until recently, is that I would struggle to pick things up of the floor as I couldn’t simply bend at the hip to pick something up, I had to crouch and bend my knees – but that’s definitely not something to moan about.
I am set to start a new office job in May which will be interesting as I have found that sitting in the same position for too long aggravates my back and will likely cause some problems to get over. This is where the next section comes in though…
This will probably resonate with most of you, I am very much an on-and-off fitness freak. I will go through phases of a few weeks at a time of being really into the whole getting fit and workout lifestyle, then it will all come crashing down when I binge on a huge bar of chocolate which would take a normal person about 6 weeks to eat – I usually demolish it in about 6 minutes haha! After that I will think I ‘deserve’ some rest, which will last anywhere between a few days to a few months… I am not proud of this, its just the way it is, and probably always will be.
Anyway, back to the purpose of this post, I do find that I have to modify a lot of abs exercises in workouts (crunches and hip raises are impossible because my back simply doesn’t bend that way), but I can do all cardio workouts (that’s not to say I enjoy them though haha!). I feel very lucky to be able to do any kind of workout at all though as I’m aware of some people that can’t do any exercise at all because of their pain. All I know is that the more exercise I do, the better I feel and the better my back feels. I went through a stage about 3 years ago where even sitting still for 5 minutes would cause excruciating pain in my lower back – after a couple of weeks of light exercise, the pain was less intense.
I will do a blog post on my yoga journey too, so watch this space!
I could write so much more about the details of how I’ve overcome some obstacles with confidence, being self-conscious of my scar and the way I’m still a bit wonky, and some of the more positive things that have come out of having the corrective surgery – but, the one key thing I’ve taken from the surgery is that, without it, I would be A LOT worse off and have a lot more problems… I know I’m one of the lucky ones.
I hope you enjoyed this post and have learnt a little more about me and how spinal fusion affected my lifestyle in the beginning. Stay tuned for more (they will get better, I promise)!