It has been 22 years since I had the surgery to correct my scoliosis; Harrington rods and fusions, which was beyond common for that time. I was 12 years old and I had a spine that was going every which way but straight. I had never heard of scoliosis, neither had anyone in my family. We were suddenly in a world with limited information and we had no choice but to rely on the specialists that were able to help. I was very fortunate and was able to get into Shriner’s hospital in Spokane, WA. I had the top specialists in the world, who worked with the best surgeons in the world to provide me with the best possible outcome for my future. We were told that my curves were far too advanced and progressing far too rapidly for bracing to be an effective treatment option. I would need the surgery, and 22 years ago it was also strongly believed that my body would crush my lungs and heart if left untreated; I HAD to have the surgery. I was even told once pre-op, that I would not survive to the age of 28 without the surgery. As a side note, it is now known that a person can leave their scoliosis untreated and even if it progresses to very extreme degrees, you will not die from lung or heart compression. Hearing that at 12 was pretty rough to process, but I will tell you, my 28th Birthday was a pretty amazing milestone for me!
My surgery went amazingly well, I slept the whole time and did not have the stress my mom and grandparents went through! I was up and walking the next day and was able to leave the hospital in less time than they anticipated. It took a couple of months to get back to being an active kid, even walking felt like something brand new to me. Within a year though, there was no limit to what I could do (aside from quickly checking my blind spot while driving haha!).
One of my favorite doctors always took the time to talk to me, as a kid, and to explain things to me. He told me that I had two choices after the surgery; I could learn to deal with the daily pains and work my way through them, or I could rely on medicine to take my pains away. He was very blunt and explained that if I chose the route of medicine that early on, by the time I was older and really needed it, it would no longer work for me. I made my decision then and there, no narcotics. That man was brilliant beyond his years and I can not begin to thank him for the life he gave me with that one conversation. It was not just about pain medicine, it prepared me to mentally and physically deal with pain as it came. It is no secret, scoliosis hurts, it is a daily hurt. Some days are better than others, but there is always pain. The sooner a person is able to accept that, the sooner they can really start living life. There is a great deal that is mind over matter and if you push through the daily aches before long they do not bother you like they did at first.
So I have gone the past 22 years without pain medicine or muscle relaxers aside from the handfu of times when I was injured. That older age that my doctor had told me about is upon me. Ibuprofen just does not help the way I need them to. This is where my journey begins again.