1. I constantly look at my back
When I’m at the gym, or walk past a shop window or mirror, I just can’t resist sneaking a look at my back. Sometimes, I swear people think I’m checking myself out. I’m not, I’m just looking at my back. I can’t help it. Post-surgery, sometimes it’s admiration. As in, I can’t believe how straight it looks from the side and that the rib hump is gone, even 5 years later! Although, other times, I’m worried about how it looks from a certain position and in a certain outfit.
2. I’m constantly paranoid people are looking at my back
This was far worse before surgery and immediately after surgery. It was so bad that, at the gym for example, I wouldn’t go on the machines at the front of the gym because I knew there would be people working out behind me and I’d be paranoid that they’d be looking at my back.
Now, 5 years later, day to day I don’t worry as much about this but if I’m wearing a skimpy top or bikini I will be more conscious, especially if the top shows my scar and shoulder which still protrudes slightly. I still won’t get changed in front of people (even people I’m close to) and activities such as swimming/going to the beach still make me uncomfortable as I think people are staring at my back.
In most cases though, they are probably not. As people without scoliosis probably don’t spend as much time staring at people’s backs and have their own things to worry about!
3. I get back envy
I just can’t help myself looking at other people’s backs and wishing mine looked like theirs. Especially when I see people wearing backless dresses/tops which I have always longed to wear. I can’t help it, I think it just happens subconsciously now. The funny thing is, these people may be looking at me wishing they had something I have. I always remember a lady staring at me once whilst I was swimming and I was certain she was looking at my back. In the end, she came up to me and said: “How do you get such a flat stomach?” I’ve come to realise that everyone has their own insecurities.
4. I hate people touching my back
This is something I just can’t stand. Pre and post-surgery. Most of my back is numb so it just feels weird but some parts are quite tender. I’m also conscious of the way it looks and that my screws protrude. For this reason, I avoid back massages, so if I go to a spa, I’ll just stick to facials or manicures. I know a massage would make me highly uncomfortable and self-conscious and I’d be worried they may do some damage if they weren’t a trained physiotherapist. I do get jealous when friends go for a massage and when my back is sore sometimes I long for one, but I just don’t want anyone seeing/touching it. The closest I came was in Thailand when I went for a spa treatment and the lady saw my back and said “broken.” Yes, I am, please don’t remind me.
5. I take photos of my back
This was worse before surgery and immediately after. Before surgery, I took photos of my back all the time, in different positions. I was paranoid my scoliosis was getting worse and it took over my life. Around that time, I had literally thousands of pictures of my back on my laptop. I used to think, if anyone found my laptop they’d think I was really weird!
After surgery, I took photos daily probably for about a year afterwards. As I wasn’t working at the time and was at home recovering, it became an obsession. I’d stare at pictures of my back for hours, to make sure nothing had moved/changed. Not only that, I’d also constantly compare pictures of my back/x-rays to those of others who had had scoliosis surgery to see how my correction compared. At the time, I was convinced my correction was not as good as most peoples and I was actually quite unhappy following my surgery. It really was an all-consuming obsession but I think looking back, most of it was in my head.
Luckily, I’m past this stage now and I rarely take photos of my back these days (except for my blog!) Mostly I’m too busy to think about it nowadays but I’ve also accepted that the correction I got was good, that I was extremely lucky with the outcome and that I need to let go of the past and move on with my life.
The psychological side of scoliosis is so often overlooked, but I think my behaviour over the years shows just how much having scoliosis has affected me psychologically. And I don’t think I’m in alone in the way I think/behave.
If you have scoliosis, can you relate to any of the above? How has having scoliosis affected your own behaviour? Feel free to comment below 🙂
Image credit: angela c.
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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.