Well… I’m really not sure how to begin this post! It’s been an extremely long time since I’ve blogged here, and so I feel like I should write a quick update to prove that I’m alive. Honestly, the only slightly valid reason I can give for not posting in so long is that I’ve been so busy, and felt so well, that I’ve kept on forgetting. It’s a pretty lame excuse, but it really is the truth.
I know that many of you who are subscribed to this blog know me in real life. This post probably won’t contain anything that you don’t know already, so don’t feel like you have to read it if you’d rather not. However, I have had a number of people comment on here in the last few months, saying that they’ve come across my blog because they themselves are facing scoliosis surgery and would like to know how I’m doing this far on. So this post is really for those people – I hope it helps at least some of you!
It’s crazy how quickly time seems to have passed since I had my surgery. I’m almost 2 1/2 years post-op, which seems like a bit of a milestone! Honestly, at this stage, I feel absolutely back to normal, and I rarely consciously notice that my back is different to how it used to be. Although I still maintain that I had a relatively quick recovery, when I look back over this blog and various draft posts that I started I’m reminded that it did actually take a long time for me to completely feel back to normal again.
My correction was and still is absolutely amazing. However, my posture is not not perfect. I still have a slightly uneven waist and shoulders, but I honestly couldn’t care less about that now. I’m so thankful for how straight my back is again, and especially for the absence of that awful rib hump. And I think my scar is amazing! It’s faded perfectly (not that I’m desperate for it to be invisible – far from it), despite the fact that I’ve never used anything like Bio Oil or scar cream on it. Looking back, I’ve just noticed that I never did post any pictures of it, so I guess I’ll put a few up now that will hopefully show how it’s healed over time. The last one isn’t very good quality, sorry, but if I wait to take a better photo I’ll never get this posted!
I think the scariest thing for anyone facing this surgery (or any surgery, really) is the thought that they might end up in more pain than before. Obviously everybody can experience different things, but in my case I now have no pain to speak of. Since I came off pain-killers about three weeks after surgery, I can count on my fingers the number of times I’ve had to take panadol because of my back.That’s not to say that I never experience any pain; however I never get achy or sore for no reason. The only things that seem to sometimes cause me a little pain are uncomfortable seats (as in seats that are really low or have hard, awkwardly sloping backs) or bad posture (such as slouching over my laptop or a book). The bad posture is something that I try to avoid, and to be honest, most seats are fine for me. The church pews, however, are awful. 😛 Cushions are marvellous inventions! Overall, however, I really don’t experience back pain, for which I am truly thankful.
Earlier in this post I mentioned that I now feel back to normal. Well, “normal” is quite a relative term, and I don’t wish to give off the false impression that I feel exactly the same as I did before surgery, because that really isn’t true. The main difference is obviously that now I can’t bend my back at all, apart from at the hips (like a hinge…). The reason this doesn’t affect my feeling “normal” is that it doesn’t prevent me from doing anything I need to do in everyday life. I can’t touch my toes or tie up my shoelaces without kneeling down first, for example, but really, that doesn’t affect my quality of living! I suspect that my sense of balance is slightly worse than it was pre-surgery, just because my spine has to move in one direction all at once and can’t really adjust as quickly as before, but it’s not a huge deal. When I was six months post-op I wrote down that “I definitely feel stiffer than before surgery, and it’s not like I ever forget that my back isn’t flexible, because it does affect everything I do”. Well, my back feels perfectly normal to me now, not abnormally stiff, and I rarely remember that my lack of flexibility is affecting the way I do things. It just goes to show that adjusting to things like this can take time!
The only thing that is still annoying me a bit is the numbness Istill have on my back. I have two fairly large patches of almostly completely numb skin on either side of my scar – one just below my shoulder-blade and the other around where my rib-hump was. It sounds silly to be bothered by it, but I do find it irritating. Even though the skin is numb, I still sometimes experience a kind of itch which feels like it’s below the skin, and it drives me absolutely insane because I can’t make it go away. I think the itch is just the nerves healing (they can take a very long time to regrow), but that fact doesn’t really make it more pleasant! The only way I can think to describe how the numbness feels is that it’s kind of like when you stand up after your foot or leg has fallen asleep for ages: you know it’s there, but you can’t properly feel what’s happening to it. I asked my surgeon about the numbness at my last check-up, and he said that it’s still possible that it will eventually go away, and these things just take time. So I’m trying to think of this as a test of my patience. 😛
The only other thing that I can think to say that might be of slight interest is that if I press on it, I can feel the top of a hook near the top of my scar. It makes my mother squeamish when I bring it up, but I think it’s pretty awesome. 😛
Well. I apologise that this was rather long and rambly! Like I said at the beginning, I’ve been so busy with life that I haven’t really been thinking about my back that much. I hope that that is perhaps comforting for some of you who are facing surgery in the nearish future. I genuinely do remember how absolutely stressful and scary the whole surgery thing seemed at the time, but now I’m so, so glad that I went through with it – it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’m not saying that the initial part wasn’t unpleasant and painful, because it definitely was at times, but it truly did pass by so quickly, and for me, the end result has been more than worth it.
Also, if you are undergoing treatment for scoliosis, I’d definitely encourage you to keep a record of it all, either through a blog or YouTube series, or even just a diary or photo-album. I’m so thankful to have a record of everything that has happened, especially as I really don’t remember a lot about the earlier days of recovery. Mum took a million photos in the hospital which I don’t think I’ve ever shown to anyone outside my family (just trust me, they’re stunning!), and although I didn’t really feel like it at the time I’m so glad she did take them. There’s something very helpful about being able to look back and see how far you’ve come. And blogging can be helpful for others as well – I’ve been able to talk to a lot of people about this surgery through this blog. I just checked the stats, and it’s had over 20,000 views since I started it over two years ago. I know that I found reading other people’s stories or watching videos they’d put together extremely helpful before I had surgery, and I’m so glad that even just a few people have been helped through reading my blog.
I don’t know when I’ll post again – I’m keen to update this occasionally, but I guess it will just depend on how busy life gets! This year has been full of big changes, the biggest being moving away from home for uni. I am absolutely loving uni, but I have discovered that I basically have no free time during semester (I’m majoring in piano performance, so any time between lectures/assignments is spent in a practice room). However, if you have questions about surgery/recovery please do comment and let me know, as I’m more than happy to reply either on here or via email. 🙂