September Link Up with A Chronic Voice

September 2017 Linkup Party with “A Chronic Voice”

Sheryl Chan over at A Chronic Voice (a great blog to follow by the way!) is having a September Link Up Party – the theme is to write about the following topics:

Resisting, Learning, Struggling, Supporting and Changing.

I thought it would be fun to take part and have tried to relate these themes to my scoliosis. I hope you enjoy reading 🙂


Resisting

Feeling down about how my back looks. 

This is a tough one and I’m sure many of my readers can relate. Yes, I’ve had scoliosis surgery and my back looks “straight” but I still have a curve there. My ribs stick out on one side. My shoulder blade sticks out too. As I’m slim you can see my spine curve and you can see the screws through the skin. I have a large scar running down my back. Does all this make me self conscious? Hell yes!

In day to day life, when I have clothes on it’s fine and in all honesty it doesn’t bother me then, I forget about it.

It’s just in situations where my back is on display where I feel down about it sometimes.

When I was on holiday recently I saw a photograph of me from the back and it shocked me a bit because I didn’t realise how bad it looked (to me anyway). A few years ago, I would have spent most of the holiday upset about a photo like this, but this time I resisted. I wore my bikini and I refused to let my scoliosis make me feel bad about myself. I have been spending a lot of time this year in the gym and running and I am proud of my figure, so why should I hide it?  I am proud of my scoliosis and everything I have been through has made me much stronger.


Learning

Scoliosis Quote - Success

Not to compare myself with others. This is something I do a lot and social media really fuels this. An example is my running. I love running and got into it earlier this year while training for the British 10K in July.

I now run a few times a week and do Park Run (weekly, free, times 5K runs) most Saturday’s.

I have seen a HUGE improvement in my running since January. In January I completed my first ever Park Run in 33 minutes, I am now completing it in around 28 minutes. Despite this,  I still feel like I’m rubbish compared to other runners who can run much faster.

I see other people’s times on Instagram and Strava and it makes me feel bad about myself. Now, I am trying to improve my speed but it’s incredibly hard and I find if I push myself too much I get pain in my back/shoulder which is related to my scoliosis.

But instead of focusing on the positives, that even just running 5k/10K with my back is amazing and on how much I have improved, I focus on how slow I run compared to the other runners I follow on social media. I am really trying not to do this but sometimes it’s difficult.

I think the point is, everyone’s situation is different and the only person I should compare myself with, is myself! I know how difficult it is to run with scoliosis and I should be proud of the improvements I have made.


Struggling

I’ve been struggling with leg numbness over recent months and it’s really annoying me as I do not know what is causing it. It’s likely related to my scoliosis though. I have an appointment next week at the hospital where I had my original scoliosis surgery so hopefully they will look into it for me. I’ll update with a post after the appointment about how it goes.

My biggest fear is that there is a problem with my fusion, metalwork or that the discs below the fusion are starting to wear out. To be honest, with all the exercise I do I worry I have done this to myself by doing too much. An even bigger fear is that I will be told to stop doing all the things I love (running, gym etc).


Supporting

I love supporting others with scoliosis and I hope that I accomplish this with my blog. I always try to respond to all the comments and emails I receive as I think those of us with scoliosis sometimes just need the support.

Support is something I didn’t really have when I was first diagnosed with scoliosis. My family didn’t want to talk about it and pretended it wasn’t happening. My friends didn’t know as I was too ashamed to tell anyone. Facebook/Twitter/Instagram etc didn’t exist back then (yes, I’m olddd..) and so it wasn’t as easy to find and chat to others with scoliosis.

I’ve since realised that it’s so important to talk about things and I so wish I had told my friends back then and been more open about my scoliosis. As soon as I started being more open and reaching out to others with scoliosis I felt so much better and less alone.

Now, I really want to give something back by putting my story “out there” and giving my help and support to anyone who needs it 🙂 If you need support, don’t struggle on like I did. You can email me or contact Scoliosis Association who are great for offering support to those affected by scoliosis.

I also wanted this year to be the year that I supported the Scoliosis Association/Scoliosis Campaign Fund by taking part in a couple of charity events to help raise money for them (British 10K) plus my upcoming Great Wall of China Trek (p.s you can sponsor me here…) 🙂


Changing

Scoliosis Quote - Comfort Zone

One of my favourite quotes is “a comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.” This is so true.

So I’ll soon be pushing myself out of my comfort zone by undertaking a massive physical and personal challenge – trekking the Great Wall of China for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund.

I’m so incredibly scared as, although it’s part of a group challenge, I’m actually going by myself. I have travelled quite a bit but never alone and so I’m petrified. However, I love being active, pushing myself and taking on challenges so I know in the back of my mind that once I’m there I will love it. I’ll probably want to do another similar challenge after it’s done!!

I’m really hoping that this experience will help to change me for the better by improving my confidence as well as my fitness.


I hope you enjoyed reading 🙂

If you’re a blogger, why not join in on this link party? Alternatively, let me know your thoughts in the comments. How would you answer these word prompts/relate them to scoliosis?

Great Wall of China - Fundraising for Scoliosis

Fundraising for Scoliosis: Great Wall of China Trek!

I apologise for the lack of posts recently, I haven’t been able to post as much due to holidays and general life busyness. However, I thought I’d write a quick update about my next big adventure!

After the success of the British 10K, I’m continuing to fund raise for scoliosis by undertaking a MASSIVE personal challenge.

In October, I’ll be taking on a 9 day trek of the Great Wall of China in order to raise funds for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund.

If you are affected by scoliosis it would mean everything to me if you could sponsor me, as I’m trying to reach a target of £500. The Scoliosis Campaign Fund are only a small charity and so every penny really does make a huge difference.

All money raised goes towards helping to support people with the condition as well as funding research into the causes and treatment of scoliosis. By supporting me, you’re helping people with scoliosis now and in the future! 🙂

If you would like to sponsor me, you can do so via the link below:

Make a donation using Virgin Money Giving


So what will I actually be doing?

I’m heading to China on 21st October to take on 9 days of trekking the famous Great Wall!

Beginning 4 hours north of Beijing, the challenge takes on a series of vigorous upwards climbs of over 10,000 relentless steps over the course of a week.

I’ll be…

-Trekking for around 4-7 hours per day, covering approximately 50kms over 5 days.
-Continually hiking up and down thousands of stairs.
-Battling the heat/cold on exposed sections of the wall.
-Trekking on un-renovated sections of the wall, with crumbling steps, shrubbery and rocks underfoot, and steep stair climbs.
-Taking on sections at height with drops at either side.
-Staying in basic lodges each night.


How do I feel?

I’m incredibly nervous, as although this is part of a group challenge, I’ll be doing this challenge by myself.

I have never travelled by myself before (without my friends/family) and so this makes me very anxious. I’m also by nature a fairly reserved person and find talking to new people difficult, so this will be scary and challenging for me on that front too.

By doing this challenge, I am totally putting myself outside of my comfort zone! But it’s something I have always wanted to do and I am sure that the experience will be good for me. Plus, I really want to do something amazing to raise awareness of scoliosis and much needed funds for the scoliosis campaign fund.


Time to train!

On a physical level, although I am fairly fit I am also worried about the physical demands of the challenge and whether my back will cope with days and days of consecutive walking uphill whilst carrying my daypack! No doubt I will be in pain while doing it but I love a challenge and I am determined to do this and prove that I can.

I’m hoping I will be fit enough as I have ran 4 10K races this year, I run several times a week and also do strength training (Body Pump classes) at the gym weekly. I’m not really used to walking uphill though and so over the next couple of months, I’ll be adapting my training to incorporate long (and hilly) walks over the weekends to prepare.

This weekend, I am going to climb mount Snowdon in Wales, which I hope will emulate the wall of China fairly well in terms of the terrain and climbing uphill for several hours. I’ll be sharing my training diaries and progress on my blog so look out for this!


That’s all for now!

I’ll be checking in soon with some more updates on this challenge including my training diaries and what I’ll be taking etc.

Make a donation using Virgin Money Giving

Thanks for reading,

Louise X

 

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

5 things I wish I could tell my 14 year old self about scoliosis

5 things I wish I could tell my 14 year old self about scoliosis

I will never forget the day I was diagnosed with scoliosis. I was 14 years old and until that day, had never had anything medically wrong with me. I was a normal teenager going about my life. I didn’t even know what scoliosis was.

The day I was diagnosed with scoliosis was the day my life changed forever. At 14, I thought it was the end of the world. I thought my life was over and that I’d be in a wheelchair before I was 30. I was terrified, distraught and used to cry myself to sleep each night. Back then, I kept my scoliosis a secret and didn’t tell anybody about it. I was ashamed of how my back looked and of being “different.”


So, what would I tell my 14 year old self now, 17 years later?

Having scoliosis will make you a better person

You don’t know this yet, but in a strange way, being diagnosed with scoliosis will be one of the best things that ever happens to you. Sounds weird I know. Yes, there will be tough times ahead and some days will be hard. But having scoliosis will change you for the better. It will give you drive. It will give you ambition. You will be more determined to push yourself and achieve in life. Trust me – you won’t want to let scoliosis win. I know it’s hard to believe right now, but in the future you will actually be glad you have scoliosis as it will make you who you are.


You are stronger than you think

Don’t worry – you will get through this. You may not realise this right now, but having scoliosis makes you incredibly strong and brave. You will get through the surgery and come out the other side a stronger, happier and more confident person.


You will achieve so much you never thought possible

Did you know that in the future, years after your scoliosis surgery, you will achieve so many amazing things? You will be very active and determined. Please don’t worry – having scoliosis will not stop you from doing anything you want to do. Getting through the surgery will make you want to push yourself and live life to the full. You will go on to get a masters degree, you will travel far and wide, run races, climb mountains, lift weights and have a real thirst for adventure.


Never be ashamed of your scoliosis – embrace it!

I know you hate your back right now and it sucks to be different. But please don’t be ashamed of your scoliosis – it makes you unique and gives you a story to tell. You CAN and WILL turn a negative situation into a positive one.

In the future, you won’t be ashamed anymore, in fact, you will be proud. You will not hide your condition but will publish your story online for others to see. Your experiences will help and inspire so many others with scoliosis.


It’s good to talk

I know it’s hard but you really need to talk to people about your scoliosis. It’s so easy to pretend it’s not happening but you really do need support. You need to talk with your parents. Tell your friends, they will be there for you. Talk to others who have the condition, you’ll be glad you did. Don’t keep things bottled up, it’s the worst thing you can do. In the future, you will discover hundreds of people in the same situation as you, feeling the same emotions. You will realise you are not alone and so many others have backs that look just like yours. Once you accept and embrace your scoliosis you will feel so much better, trust me.


Louise X

Personal Update-Physio this week

Personal update: Physio this week

Hello,

Just thought I’d write a quick post to update on me and my lovely new symptom I’ve been getting recently – leg numbness.

I first noticed that I had numb patches running down my right leg about 6 months ago. I went to see a Dr who wasn’t much use and told me it was probably related to my scoliosis surgery (that I had almost 7 years ago) and to come back if it got worse. I do have numb patches over my back already that I’ve always had but I’ve definitely not always had this leg numbness, this is a new symptom.

So I tried my best to forget about it over the next few months and carried on with life as normal. However, I noticed that it wasn’t getting any better (in fact it seemed to be getting worse) so I went back to see a different Dr.

The second Dr thought I should be referred to physio and also get checked by the orthopaedic hospital that carried out my scoliosis surgery, just to be safe. That was a couple of months ago now and I haven’t heard anything about the referral yet.

Anyway, this week I finally saw the physio. She thinks that I have something going on with the nerves at L5/S1 – they are being compressed/irritated/pinched whatever, which is causing the symptoms I’m getting.

At the moment, this is really getting me down. I think because I don’t know what is actually causing the nerve irritation. I don’t think it’s a screw or anything as my fusion is much higher up (T3-L3). I’m not getting any pain with it, just numbness and tingling and my right leg does feel weaker.

I’m going back to the Dr’s next week for an update on the referral as I’m getting myself worked up wondering what it could be. The main culprits (I think from Googling) are possibly disc degeneration or a slipped disc, but because I don’t get any pain at all I’m not sure if these are the cause.

I do know that years down the line after spinal fusion there is risk of disc degeneration in the non-fused joints, I just didn’t think it would happen so soon! I suppose I just need to wait until I see a specialist and have a scan or something but I hate waiting and not knowing. I drive myself mad on Google.

In the meantime, I’m going to do the stretches that the physio has recommended and also start swimming. I enjoy swimming but haven’t been in a while as I still feel really self conscious about my back. I bought a new swimming costume last weekend though so I’m going to force myself to go to see if it helps.

I’m also going to start Pilates. I have a Pilates DVD that the physio recommended for low back pain and have tried it out this morning.

I’m just annoyed at myself in a way because if it is something like disc degeneration or a slipped disc I may have been able to prevent it by doing Pilates and core strengthening exercises sooner. Exercises like Pilates are so important for those with spinal fusions as they can help strengthen the core and protect the lower back.

I have been to Pilates in the past but I have felt self conscious as I can’t do all of the movements and I hate getting singled out by the instructor and made to feel different. I also worry I’m doing the moves wrong due to my fused spine and will cause an injury. It’s a catch-22!

So now I’m worried I’ve caused this myself with all the high impact stuff I’ve been doing recently, without protecting my lower back properly by building a strong core.

Anyway, I’ll stop rambling on now and I’ll be sure to update how I get on with physio and if I ever get that referral.


I’d be interested to know though, if you have had scoliosis surgery, have you ever suffered with leg numbness years down the line?
Please let me know in the comments or contact me I’d love to chat to you and share stories. 🙂

Bye for now,

Louise X

5 ways to describe Scoliosis Pain

5 ways to describe scoliosis pain

5 ways to describe scoliosis pain

Living with a chronic back condition such as scoliosis is tough. But what does it really feel like living with scoliosis? What does scoliosis pain feel like? For those of us that live everyday with the condition, it can be hard to explain to those close to us how it feels. It can be difficult for others to understand what it’s really like. I tend to just get on with things and I try to take control of the condition by being as active as possible. Because of this though, many people just don’t realise what I deal with everyday and how scoliosis has affected me.

I thought I’d attempt at articulating what scoliosis pain is like for me – if you can relate, please let me know in the comments below. It’s good to talk and support each other 🙂


It’s more than just back pain.

Scoliosis Quote - Scoliosis is more than just back pain

What a lot of people don’t realise is, scoliosis affects the whole body.

The result of having a curved spine has an impact on EVERYTHING ELSE, not just the back.  I don’t just get pain in one part of my back. My rib cage is twisted round, which can affect my breathing.  Bras and tops don’t fit properly and I feel self conscious in skin tight tops or tops that show my back/shoulders. Scoliosis also affects the nerves so I often get random sharp nerve pains in various parts of my back. I also get numbness down my leg and tingling down my arms and in my hands.

Scoliosis causes muscle imbalances in the back, so mostly my scoliosis pain is caused by tight muscles down one side of my back (the “weaker” side).  As a result, I get regular muscle spasms down one side of my back and around my shoulder blade where my back just feels tight. Since surgery, this is MUCH BETTER but I still get it, usually after doing some intense activity like running or if I’ve been walking round all day.


It’s uncomfortable

For me, this is the worse than the pain. My scoliosis makes it so hard to get comfortable EVER. Don’t get me wrong, it was worse before I had surgery as I had a large rib hump which meant I found it uncomfortable leaning against pretty much any chair.

After surgery, it’s different but it’s still hard to get comfortable. I still find it uncomfortable leaning against most chairs as I still have a slight unevenness to my ribs. I also have a protruding shoulder blade and screws that stick out of my back. All this makes it painful/uncomfortable to sit on most chairs without a cushion.

In addition to this, as my back is now fused “straight” I can’t mould my back to fit to any seat/chair. I sit poker straight which means it can be uncomfortable when I’m in a car or on public transport.  I don’t mind this, I’d rather this than the alternative (have my scoliosis getting worse) but I can’t really remember a time that I was truly comfortable.


It can be frustrating

I try to be as active as possible, I think as a way of controlling my condition and managing the pain. But I find it frustrating sometimes that I can’t do as much as everyone else. I try my hardest to go to the classes I want to go to at the gym and and to go running. Sometimes though it can be hard to keep up and I get frustrated. I wish I could run as fast as everyone else without injuring myself or causing a new pain for example. Every time I think I’m getting somewhere with my fitness, my back is there to remind me to slow down. Whether it’s a new injury, numbness or back pain. When my back starts hurting though, I tend to push through and do as much as I can. I refuse to let scoliosis beat me.


The emotional pain can be far worse than the physical pain

Scoliosis Quote: The emotional pain caused by scoliosis can be far worse than the physical pain.

Even though scoliosis is a physical condition, the emotional pain it causes can be far worse.

Being diagnosed with scoliosis at 14 and growing up with a physical deformity was tough. I was constantly paranoid that people would notice my rib hump so I would wear baggy clothes and avoid activities where my back would be on display, like swimming. At 14, I felt like a freak and would often cry in my room at night. The psychological impact of scoliosis is often overlooked. Without a doubt though, having scoliosis has crushed my self esteem and self confidence, which still impacts on me today.


It affects you 24/7

Scoliosis Quote - Scoliosis affects you 24/7

Having scoliosis is a huge part of my life. It will always be there. It can’t be cured, it’s a chronic condition. I don’t like to use the word disability because I don’t see it that way. But in a way, it is a hidden disability. To look at me, you wouldn’t know what I go through everyday. As soon as I get out of bed, I have pain and stiffness. I find it awkward to do basic tasks, like tying my shoelaces and putting my socks on or getting comfortable because my back is fused. I’m used to it now and I just get on with it, but it affects me every day.


How does living with scoliosis affect your everyday life? Please share in the comments below 🙂

Louise X

 

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Park Run Delamere Forest…a new PB!!

I’m so happy right now!

I just came home from my second Park Run at Delamere Forest and I managed to get a new PB!

Back in January, I went to my first ever Park Run at Delamere Forest. It was cold, dark, raining and generally bad conditions for running.

Despite this though, I still managed to get a time of 33 minutes and I was so proud of myself.

I haven’t managed to get back to Park Run since January as life has kind of got in the way. I was determined to go this weekend though as I’m conscious that my 10K London race for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund is coming up and Park Run is great training for that. Plus, it was a lovely sunny morning and perfect conditions for running.

This time, I was much more organised as I knew the drill. I arrived 10 minutes before the start time of 9am and made sure I was wearing my heart rate monitor and that my Runkeeper app was ready to go. I also made sure I had my headphones on ready so I could listen to my music and Runkeeper progress. Last time I didn’t get myself sorted in time and so had no music to listen to!

This time there were also A LOT more runners there, I think because it was such a sunny day compared to last time.

Park Run

I also wore better trainers this time. Last time I wore my gym trainers and they pretty much got ruined as it was sooo wet and muddy. I also nearly slipped on the mud last time and nearly twisted my ankle a few times too as it’s quite rocky underfoot and there are tree roots and things sticking out.  After my first Park Run, I bought some Karrimor trail runner trainers which are much better for the off-road conditions, like those at Delamere Forest.

park run

It was the first time I wore these trainers but I have to say I was impressed. They weren’t particularly expensive but the grip made such a difference. They are also waterproof too so if I do go on a wet day again in future, I don’t need to worry. The other thing I did was purchase a Park Run card. This is basically just a card with your name, phone number and barcode on the back. It just makes it easier as if you pop it in your purse you never have to worry about forgetting your barcode in future. I got one because on the first Park Run it was so wet that my paper barcode wouldn’t scan properly which caused a bit of delay at the finish line. So all in all, I felt like this time everything went much more smoothly!

A new PB

Last time my time was 33 minutes and 27 seconds. For me, this was a HUGE achievement! I didn’t even know if I’d be able to run the full 5K let alone finish at a decent time. This time last year, it took my around 40 minutes to run 5K, so I’ve improved so much. Today, I did push myself. I knew I wanted to beat my last time, the conditions were better this time and I was better prepared.

Today, I managed to get a time of 31 minutes!

I’m so pleased with this, although it wasn’t easy. Especially the last hill at the end! I did push myself quite a bit and I’m slightly worried how I will manage to do my 10K race as I was completely knackered after running 5K at this pace… I’m going to keep going though and will hopefully find it easier over time and keep improving. The best thing is that, even though it was a struggle, my back felt great! It may have been down to the adrenaline, or maybe the trainers I’m not sure but my back didn’t hurt one bit. I have been working on strengthening my back over the last 9 months so I feel like this is really paying off. Although, of course I have good and bad days and it will probably start hurting tomorrow!

#LoveParkRun

Overall, I think I run much better in a group like Park Run than when I run by myself. I think it’s because my competitive side comes out and I push myself more. It’s a fantastic, friendly atmosphere and I really can’t recommend it enough. I feel on a high all day 🙂

Have you ever been to Park Run? Tell me about your experiences in the comments below!

Until next time!

Louise X

Park Run

One step forwards, two steps back…

In the main, I really try to be positive on this blog and inspire others. I also want to be honest and reflect what it’s really like living with scoliosis.

There are good days and bad days and well, tonight if I’m being honest, I’m feeling really fed up.

Leg Numbness

For the past 6 months or so I’ve been getting numbness down my right leg and into my foot. It’s not painful, it’s just numb and my right leg feels odd, almost like a heavy feeling. I went to the Drs about 6 months ago about it and the Dr I saw wasn’t too concerned. He said it was probably a result of my scoliosis surgery and I should come back if it gets worse. Well, it kind of has got worse so I went back to the Drs this week. The Dr I saw this week said as it’s lasted for this long it needs further investigation. It’s likely there’s an irritated nerve in my lower back which is causing my symptoms.

They can’t do an MRI because the metalwork will distort the image and so it’s back to physio for yet the hundredth time.

The Dr has also referred me back to my scoliosis surgeon so they can investigate the cause.

It could be caused by anything but I’m really worried that I have done this to myself through all the stuff I do at the gym (Body Pump, spin classes, running etc)..

Frustrations…

I feel really frustrated because whenever I start to feel happy or proud that I’m actually getting somewhere, my back tries to stop me or slow me down. Whether it’s back pain, a strained shoulder muscle or now leg numbness.

I recovered from my shoulder injury from two years ago (caused by my scoliosis..) and I was really pleased that as a result I could start exercising again. I’ve really been doing well recently with my running for example and have been really happy trying lots of new classes at the gym. I’ve finally started to feel like myself again after my surgery.

Now, it feels like I’m being punished for trying to be normal and lead an active life.

I feel like I’m going to be back and forward to physio and suffering with pain and numbness for the rest of my life, which really gets me down.

It’s like a constant reminder that I maybe can’t push myself as much as other people, and maybe I shouldn’t be doing high impact exercise. But on the other hand, I really enjoy it and I don’t want to be ruled by my back.

Now what?

I think now, I just feel a bit lost. I don’t know what I should be doing exercise wise anymore. Should I carry on with what I’ve been doing and stay active? Will this make my leg numbness worse? It seems like the Dr’s don’t know and I get varying opinions which just adds to my frustration. Some Dr’s and physios have told me I can do anything and some have said just stick to Pilates. Nobody seems to know what is best for those of us with scoliosis.

Even though my back feels old, I’m not and I don’t want it to stop me from living or doing the things I want to do. I’m not ready to give in just yet.

Veganuary - why I went Vegan for a month

Veganuary: why I went vegan for a month

This January, as part of my New Years Resolution, I took part in Veganuary.

For those of you who have not heard of Veganuary, it’s basically going vegan for the month of January.

So this may seem slightly unrelated to scoliosis but I feel like for me, healthy eating and looking after myself goes hand in hand with scoliosis. I feel like I try and eat healthily and work out BECAUSE I have scoliosis. It’s kind of my way of taking control I think. Plus, for those of us with scoliosis it’s important to stay trim to relieve the pressure on our spines 🙂

Now that we’ve reached the end of January, I wanted to give a quick update about how I got on!


First of all, how DO you go Vegan for a month?

Veganuary Smoothies

Going Vegan means giving up all foods that contain animal products including meat, fish and dairy. To start with, it’s quite difficult. There are loads of foods that I didn’t realise contained milk for example (it seems to be in EVERYTHING!!) It means most processed foods are out and you have to cook from scratch quite a bit (which is healthier anyway but means planning ahead). You tend to eat much more fruit, veg, plant based milk/margarine, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes.

I have a few vegan cookbooks now and actually find vegan cooking really easy. Most vegan recipes have only a few, healthy ingredients and are quick to do but packed with flavour (full of herbs and spices). There are vegan alternatives to most foods (e.g. milk, yoghurt, margarine, cheese etc) and you can make a YUMMY “cheese” sauce from coconut milk and butternut squash!


Why did I go Vegan for a month?

Veganuary - Avocado on Toast

I decided to try it mainly for health reasons and a “detox” after over indulging at Christmas! I basically wanted to eat healthily for the new year, especially as I’ve signed up to a few 10K races. Plus I find that dairy doesn’t really agree with me and makes me bloated and I don’t usually eat meat normally (only fish). So it seemed like a good choice for me. Finally, I like a good challenge and wanted to see if I could do it for a full month. Plus, a plant based diet can cut out cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.


What are the benefits?

Veganuary Curry

Aside from the above, I feel like my skin is clearer and I lost a bit of weight. I also feel less bloated and am sleeping better. In general, I just feel healthier. I have a slight confession to make in that I didn’t eat 100% healthily for the whole month. There are some junk foods that are vegan (some flavours of Pringles for example..) but generally I ate well by cooking from scratch most days.


What were the hardest parts?

I found being Vegan fairly easy at home when I could prepare my meals and I knew what I was putting in them. The hardest part for me was lunchtime at work. The local Co-op by my work has hardly any Vegan options in their lunchtime meal deals and so I had to make sure I made my own lunch each day. It was also difficult eating at friend’s houses or eating out as most restaurants have a couple of vegetarian options but usually no (or limited) Vegan options. Food packaging could also be confusing too, as most foods will say “Vegetarian” but not “Vegan” even if it is vegan.

I also found I felt quite hungry in the evenings and sometimes had limited things I could snack on as many of my usual snacks had milk in them (e.g things like certain crisps, snack a jacks or crackers). The main thing is to be prepared. I stocked up on Vegan snacks such as nak’d bars, Trek bars and popcorn. 🙂 It would probably be harder for those who eat meat but it wasn’t too much of a transition for me, it was more a case of making sure I had Vegan snacks in the flat!

Veganuary - Vegan Snacks
Veganuary – Vegan Snacks

It was a challenge cooking from scratch in the weekday evenings, especially when getting back late after the gym. I got around this by batch cooking and freezing meals in advance or making enough to last a few days. I also bought a soup maker which was an absolute lifesaver! It meant I could just chuck loads of veg and (vegan) stock together and it would be ready and (hot and blended) in 20 minutes!

Veganuary - Vegan Soup
Veganuary – Vegan Soup

Veganuary Veg

Overall, I have really enjoyed taking part in Veganuary and I think now January is over, I’m going to carry on with the Vegan diet (mostly!) I’ve found that I’ve really got into and enjoy Vegan cooking, plus I feel better too!

I think going forwards, I’ll definitely follow a mostly Vegan diet when I’m at home. However, I will probably relax it a bit when I go out for meals as I’ve found it quite difficult this month when eating out.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year (and a plea!)

I just wanted to write a quick post to wish anyone who might read my blog a very happy 2017!

I still can’t believe 2017 is here (seriously HOW did that happen?) last year went so fast.

So it’s around this time of year that I always get reflective, where am I going? What am I doing? What is the purpose of life? etc etc. I also look back at the previous year and what I have achieved.

In terms of my back I think I have achieved a lot over the past 12 months. I also tried some new things I never thought I could do…

  • I got back into running and did my first ever mud run for charity. I also started focusing more on getting strong (partly due to injuring my shoulder muscles by running and having weak back muscles).
  • I took up Body Pump a few months ago and it is now my fave ever workout class. I can already notice myself getting stronger and my muscles are becoming more defined.
  • I also started spin classes and feel fitter than ever as a result (spin classes are EVIL though).

Yes, I do get back pain. I have days where it really hurts, especially at the bottom of my back.  And sometimes I worry, am I overdoing things? But in 2016 I had a shift in my mindset. After injuring my shoulder through running I realised I need to get stronger. I’m not invincible. My muscles are so weak from never ever doing any strengthening exercises that it makes me very vulnerable to injury and worse back pain in the future. This is even more of a risk because I have scoliosis and muscle imbalances already.

So what are my back / fitness goals for 2017?

    • Focus on getting STRONG – I will be doing the 30 day plank challenge throughout January. I will also continue to go to Body Pump twice a week and gradually increase the amount of weights I can lift. I am determined to be strong enough to do a push up!! (Still can’t do those!)
    • Related to the above, I’m determined to get into Pilates too.
    • I really want to do a massive personal challenge of some kind and raise some money for Scoliosis Association while I’m at it (any ideas people? Let me know in the comments!)
    • I’m thinking of signing up to a 10K race or half marathon. A half marathon might be a bit much but I like to push myself 😉

A plea to my lovely readers…

In terms of personal goals, 2017 is the year I am going to dedicate to this blog. I plan to add regular content that is (hopefully!) helpful to those who live with scoliosis.

If you read my blog, firstly THANK YOU SO MUCH!!

If there is any content you’d like me to include on this blog, please let me know!

Just comment below or send me a quick email. I love hearing from readers of my blog as it keeps me going, plus sometimes I wonder if anyone even reads it haha 🙂

Also, if you or someone you know has scoliosis and you would like to share your story or write a guest post I would love to feature it on my blog, so please get in touch 🙂

helpformyscoliosis@hotmail.co.uk

That’s all for now,

Happy New Year!

Louise X

Related Posts:

My 5 Favourite Scoliosis Exercises

Body Pump

Pretty Muddy