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,
I had scoliosis surgery in 2010 and blog about my experiences living with scoliosis. My aim is to raise awareness of scoliosis and help and inspire others with the condition.