7 years post op

7 Years Post Op

Well, I can’t believe that on Saturday I will be 7 YEARS post my scoliosis surgery!!! Time really does fly.

I always feel reflective around this time as I think about what I went through and how far I’ve come.  So, to celebrate the 7 year anniversary of my titanium spine, I thought I’d write a post to sum up what life is like for me 7 years post op.


How is my back at 7 years post op?

The good parts

To be perfectly honest, in some ways my back has never felt better.

It’s taken years but I feel like now, at 7 years post op, I can do anything I put my mind to. In the early stages of my recovery, it was tough and I was restricted in many ways. I couldn’t bend/lift/twist for 3-6 months and was limited in my activities for about 12 months while my spine fused.

I gradually started going back to the gym at around 12 months post op but I could only really walk slowly on the treadmill, everything else either hurt or felt strange. As the years went on I gradually started trying new activities such as Zumba/aerobics and at first it was a struggle and my back felt stiff. I was scared about doing certain moves in case I damaged myself. But every time I managed to do something new post op it felt amazing, I felt proud and I really appreciated absolutely everything I was able to do.

Fast forward to 7 years post op and I now run several times a week. This year has been the year of running and I have completed FOUR 10K races (one was the British 10K to raise money for Scoliosis Campaign Fund). I have also started to be a bit more daring with some of the classes at the gym. I’m more confident in what I can do. I’ve realised that my back (titanium in particular!) is strong and I can do more than I used to think without damaging it.  If anything I’ve realised that it’s the muscles I need to worry about and for me, being strong and strengthening my core is now a priority. I’ve started to do Body Pump and I’m surprised at how quickly my strength has improved.

I love being active and I’ll grab any opportunity to do anything that I once thought I’d never be able to do. In October, I am taking on a huge challenge by taking on a 9 day trek of the Great Wall of China, which I’m nervous about but also really excited. I’m doing this to raise money for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund (if you fancy sponsoring me and helping those affected by scoliosis, you can do so here).


The “less good” parts

I have started to experience a few issues over the past couple of years. These could be down to me doing too much, injuries from the gym, or just general wear and tear after 7 years. I’m not sure.

One of the issues is shoulder pain and nerve pain/tingling in my shoulder. I did have this pretty bad a couple of years ago and had to have physio for it. At the time I was told it was caused by the muscle in-balances in my back (from my scoliosis) and aggravated by running. I did some strengthening exercises and started Body Pump once I felt able to, to strengthen my back and shoulders. This seems to have done the trick and my shoulder is now much better, although it does still get sore if it’s overworked and I still get nerve pain now and again in my shoulder/back.

Another issue I’ve noticed over the last year or so is leg numbness. I’m not sure what is causing this at the moment and I’m currently waiting for an appointment for it to be looked into. It doesn’t cause pain or stop me from doing anything but it’s there and it does bother me sometimes.

In the grand scheme of things though, and compared to the pain I was in prior to my surgery, I feel that these things are minor. I count myself lucky that I can do all the things I do and that I am not in more pain than I am, I know not everyone with scoliosis is as fortunate.

I would also like to add, that for me, the psychological side of having scoliosis has not gotten any easier post surgery.

Even after 7 years I still feel paranoid about my back and will avoid/feel uncomfortable in certain outfits or doing activities that expose my back (like swimming for example). My back definitely looks better than before surgery but to me, it still does not look “normal.”

As my scoliosis was severe before surgery, I still have a shoulder blade that sticks out on one side and uneven ribs. Don’t get me wrong, I am proud of my scoliosis and over time I have become less bothered what people think but I still feel self conscious sometimes. I can’t help it and I’m starting to think that for me, this feeling will never go away completely.

So how will I be celebrating being 7 years post op?

As my surgery anniversary falls on a Saturday, I’ll be heading to my local Park Run and running 5K of course 🙂


If you’ve had scoliosis surgery a while ago, I’d be really interested to hear how you are getting on years post surgery. Do you still feel self conscious sometimes? What kind of activities do you do? Do you get pain or experience similar issues to me?

Let me know in the comments below, or you can share your story to be featured on my blog 🙂

Bye for now,

Louise X

Your Scoliosis Stories...

Your Scoliosis Stories: Lorraine’s Story

Firstly, I just want to say a huge thank you to those who have submitted their Scoliosis Stories to my blog. It means a lot to me and I think these stories really help and inspire others who suffer with scoliosis. The latest scoliosis story comes from Lorraine, who shares her experiences with scoliosis and having scoliosis surgery in the 1970’s.


Your Scoliosis Stories: Lorraine’s Story

1970’s Surgery

I was diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis when I was 13.

I was 14 when I had my surgery and that was in 1970…a very long time ago!

Back in the day this involved a month on a Stryker frame type of bed where I was pinned down at night so I wouldn’t roll over in my sleep.

After the first month I spent 5 months in a body cast not allowed to sit or stand at all. I pretty much had to learn to walk again after that cause my muscles were so weak.

The next 6 months I wore a brace shaped like the body cast during the day. At the end of it all I was straighter by 3 inches but still had a fairly prominent rib hump. 

Happily I went on to have a good life, had kids with no troubles and although I am not athletic I could walk and do exercise classes at the gym.

My biggest problem with scoliosis has been poor body self image and that continues to this day. I try to not let it bother me but still always wear baggy clothes to try and hide the rib hump.

I don’t like anyone to touch my back which limits hugs 🙁 I try to get over it but even after all of these years it is an issue for me.

In 2009 I had to have one of  rods removed as it was coming thru my skin. I asked the Dr to give it to me after it was removed and it is as shiny as the day they put it in …that titanium is strong!! I am grateful that they were able to correct my curve and prevent it from getting worse.

Although scoliosis can be hard to live with it has made me who I am….Scoliosis Strong!


Thank you Lorraine for taking the time to share your scoliosis story. It sounds like you went through a lot but it’s great that you were able to go onto have a good life post surgery.

I think all of us with scoliosis can identify with your body confidence issues. I really think this is one of the most overlooked symptoms of scoliosis but it’s one not to be ignored – I’ve written a few posts on this issue (5 things I do because of my scoliosis; body image) and I really can sympathise with you.

If you’d like to have your own scoliosis story featured on this blog, simply follow this link and share your story!

 

Louise X

British 10K London Fundraising for Scoliosis Race Recap

British 10K London: Fundraising for Scoliosis

So, yesterday I achieved one of my objectives for the year and ran the British 10K for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund. How was it? Much tougher than I expected!

Those of you who follow my blog may know that I have done several 10K races this year and ALOT of training to prepare for this event. I have been training since January, as back then I could barely run 5K!

But I was determined to build my distance and take part in this event to help raise money for a charity so close to my heart.


British 10K London: Race recap

I travelled down to London with my boyfriend on Saturday, a day before the race, as I’m based up north and the race started early Sunday morning. When we arrived in London the first thing I noticed was how hot it was compared to up north (!) and I was really hoping it would cool down for the race as I’m not great with running in the heat.

I did my very best to prepare for the race on the Saturday, I refrained from alcohol, drank lots of water and ate a lot of pasta! The refraining from alcohol bit was tough because everyone around me was drinking, as it was such a gorgeous sunny day!

We did some chilling on the Southbank, went for a meal and then had an early night (boring but I really wanted to do well!)


The day of the race

British 10K
British 10K

Even though we were staying in central London, we had to get up pretty early and get the tube across to the start (9.30am).

When we arrived at the bag drop area it was crazy busy (there were over 10,000 participants!) and I started to get nervous. I didn’t sleep well the night before as I was worrying about the race. This was my second race of this scale (I did the Great Manchester Run in May) so I’m still getting used to running these type of events.

We arrived in plenty of time though, so I had time to queue for the toilet and then head over to my start pen (E). I have to say at this point, that considering the scale of this event, I thought it was EXTREMELY well organised. I have taken part in smaller running events which have been utter chaos and so I was very impressed! There were plenty of signs telling us where to go which took a bit of my anxiety away.

To get to our start pens we had to walk down Pall Mall, which, lined with Union Jack flags set us up for the race nicely!

British 10K - walk to the start
British 10K – walk to the start

It was about a 10 minute walk to get to my start pen, which was a good warm up and a chance to take some pics. At this point it was already getting HOT, so I was starting to get concerned about running in it (I’m a northerner so I’m not used to the sun…!)

British 10K - Pall Mall
British 10K – Pall Mall

Once I reached my start pen, they did some warm ups and eventually we made our way to the start. Everyone was put in groups (A-H) depending on their speed, so the fast groups went first and we all gradually filtered round. I was in group E which was pretty much in the middle.

British 10K - at the start
British 10K – at the start

During the race

I have to say I really struggled with this race. I have done several 10K’s this year and I found this one the hardest by far. It was mainly to do with the heat, for me it was just too hot to comfortably run in. It was around 26/27 degrees and very humid and there were no clouds at all so the sun was burning down on us.

I have done a few training runs in hot weather but as we don’t get many really hot days up north I’m used to running in much cooler temperatures. As it was so hot, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to. I felt like I couldn’t really take in the amazing sights because I was struggling so much to keep myself going!

There were soooo many times where I was tempted to stop but I didn’t. I just keep thinking of the scoliosis charity and all those amazing people who had sponsored me and I didn’t want to let them, or myself down.

So I didn’t stop once, I kept going and all the way round I was just thinking – when will this end?! It was pure torture!! Most of the runners running near me were visibly struggling and there were so many who had to stop and walk.

Despite this though, the route itself was a great route, past all the main sights and there were lots of cheering crowds to keep us going! The highlight was probably running over Westminster bridge, as not only were the views awesome, I knew we were near the end!!

I definitely ran slower than I could have done in parts due to the heat. When I approached the finish line I had literally no energy to sprint like I usually do and just kept at my steady pace.


After the race

I collapsed in a heap!

Not quite… I found a place to sit down and catch my breath and wipe myself down (yuk!) After I recovered, I checked my Strava and it appeared my average pace was similar to that of the Manchester run, so despite the heat I wasn’t going as slowly as I thought!

British 10K at the end
British 10K – with my medal

In the end, I managed to complete it in exactly 1 hour, which is slightly slower than my previous 10K races (PB is 57.27) but not bad considering how I felt.

I was a bit disappointed as I was hoping to get a new PB given all the training I’ve done but I guess the elements were against me.

At the end of the day, I know I can do 10K faster but it’s not about speed. I’m just proud that I finished it, I didn’t stop and that I raised money for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund, which is what I set out to do. When it comes to it, this is all that matters.

I even managed to meet up briefly with some of the other scoliosis runners who are all amazing and inspirational! It was great to meet others with scoliosis as I had actually never met anyone else in “real life” with scoliosis before.

British 10K - Team Scoliosis Campaign Fund
British 10K – Team Scoliosis Campaign Fund

Overall, I had a great day even though the run was tough. Plus, the medal and finishers pack is awesome (yes, that is a tin of baked beans..!)

British 10K - Finishers Pack
British 10K – Finishers Pack

Thank you to everyone who has sponsored me so far, it means so much to me!

My sponsor page will be accepting donations until November, as my next challenge for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund will be trekking the Great Wall of China in October (post coming soon).

If you have scoliosis or know someone with scoliosis please consider sponsoring me to help the Scoliosis Campaign Fund.

The Scoliosis Campaign Fund raises money to support people with scoliosis and their families, and fund research into finding the causes of scoliosis and treatments to improve quality of life for patients. They are only a small charity so every penny really does mean everything.
Make a donation using Virgin Money Giving

Thanks for reading 🙂

Louise X

British 10K Training Diary 7 days to go!!

London British 10K: 7 Days to go!

London British 10K: 7 Days to go!

Oh my gosh, it’s really getting real now!

This time next week I will have completed the Virgin Sport British 10K in London. Back in January, I set myself the challenge of completing this iconic 10K for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund. I could barely run 5K in January but wanted a fitness challenge for the new year, as well as giving something back to the Scoliosis Campaign Fund / Scoliosis Association. This week, my bib arrived which means it must really be happening!

British 10K Bib
My Bib arrived this week!

I was lucky enough to be given a charity place by the Scoliosis Campaign Fund earlier this year. After I got the place, I focused all my efforts on training for this event and have been doing so over the past 6 months.

Over these past 6 months, I have achieved quite a lot with my running. I have completed many 5K Park Runs and improved my 5K time gradually from 33 minutes to under 28 minutes. I have also completed 3 10K races and have gone from completing this distance in 1hr 19 minutes (which I did 2 years ago) to well under an hour!

I am really proud of hour far I have come. It just proves what you can achieve through hard work, dedication and training.

With just 1 week to go until the British 10K, I thought I’d share my training diary on my blog for the past week.

If any of my amazing and lovely readers would like to sponsor me, I have a sponsorship page here. 🙂

All money raised will go directly to the Scoliosis Campaign Fund. The Scoliosis Campaign Fund support people with scoliosis and fund research into finding causes and treatments. 


British 10K: Training Diary w/c 26th June

Tuesday 27th June: 4.4km Run

4.4km Run

After the Colshaw Hall 10K on the Sunday 25th, I was a bit sore and my back was feeling it a bit. So I thought it would be best to have Monday as a rest day. On Tuesday, I headed out after work to do a short 4.4km run, which took me 26 minutes 37 seconds. I wasn’t trying to be fast, it was more of a recovery run although I did struggle a bit to be honest. I probably could have used a few more rest days after the 10K race on the Sunday!

Run Selfie

 

Wednesday 28th June: Body Attack class

All I can say about this class is oh my god! I decided to mix up the running a bit this week to give my back a bit of a break. So I went to a class at my gym called Body Attack. Well, the name sums up the class to be honest… It’s a high impact, high energy fitness class with lots of running, jumping, squats, lunges, core work etc for ONE HOUR straight.

It was pretty difficult but the music and the instructor made it fun. It’s a great way to get cardio in without running though and the strength building parts are a good complement to running.

 

Thursday 29th June: Intervals and Body Pump

Tonight I went to Body Pump at my gym after work. I had an hour to kill before the class so decided to do some interval work on the treadmill as an attempt to try and increase my running speed. I did struggle a bit tonight as I had major DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) after the Body Attack class, especially in my calves. But I did some stretches and carried on!

I wasn’t too sure what I was doing with the intervals as I’m not used to doing them, but basically I tried doing 1 minute fast (slightly faster than my usual running pace) and then 1 minute walking and repeated this about 6/7 times. This was really hard and I felt more knackered doing this than just running for 20-30 minutes at the same pace!

I think intervals are best done with a heart rate monitor as you can monitor your heart rate and how far to push yourself. I aimed to get my heart rate up to 85% on the fast intervals and bring it down to around 70% in the slow intervals. I’m lucky because I have a heart rate monitor (I use a MyZone MZ3), which is linked to my phone and screens at the gym which helps me when it comes to getting this right.

I think I’m going to start mixing intervals into my usual weekly running and see how I get on. I’ve read that intervals are the best way to increase speed and it is good to mix up the training to keep it interesting.

 

Saturday 1st July: Color Run Manchester (5k)

Color Run Manchester Start Line

So today I did the Color Run in Manchester – the happiest 5k on the planet! I wanted to do this because a couple of years ago I did Run or Dye and absolutely loved it. It’s more of a fun run though and is not timed, so it’s not really an event to be chasing a PB!

Color Run Manchester

Most people were walking and it was difficult to run around people which was slightly frustrating at times. I think to avoid this they should have set people off in waves e.g. runners, joggers, walkers like they do at Race for Life events…but hey ho!

Overall it was a fun event and somehow, despite all the people walking and having to stop several times, I managed to get a 5K PB and completed it in 26.58!

Although according to Strava, it wasn’t quite 5km, it was 4.6km… hmmm.

Color Run Manchester Strava

Sunday 2nd July: 10.4Km Run

I was going to leave the running until Tuesday, but with the weather being so nice I decided to head out for a run this evening. I didn’t have any distance in mind, I just thought I’d go with the flow and see how far I could go. Luckily I didn’t feel too bad and I kept the pace slow-ish so I didn’t injure myself. Due to this I managed to do 10.4km which I was pretty pleased with. This will probably be my last long run now until the big day next weekend. I might sneak in a couple of short runs next week depending on how I feel.

10K Run


If you’d like to sponsor me for The British 10K and help me to raise money for those affected by scoliosis, I have set up a Virgin Money Giving page below:

Make a donation using Virgin Money Giving

Through Virgin Money Giving, donations will be quickly processed and passed to the Scoliosis Campaign Fund.

Virgin Money Giving is a not for profit organisation and will claim gift aid on a charity’s behalf where the donor is eligible for this.

I really appreciate all your support and thank you in advance for any donations.

 

Louise X