I very rarely draw attention to the fact that I suffer from a spinal abnormality. But at the age I am now, I have the self confidence to not only admit to it in a very public forum, but also to show photos that I usually hide.
I was born with a genetic predisposition to this condition but it wasn't until I was 11 years old that the deformity was was noticed by my mother. That year on our annual holiday, my mother commented to the landlady of the flats (they had become friends over the years) that she thought something was wrong with my back as the clothes she was making for me seem to pull to one side. Mrs Ling in turn asked advice of her friend who was a veterinarian...yes a vet!!!! He looked at my posture, asked me to bend from the waist and then told my mother that she should take me to the hospital when we got home.
Eventually I was diagnosed with scoliosis or curvature of the spine. My mother was distraught that she ‘had a crooked daughter’ and insisted it was because I didn’t sit up straight... I carried that guilt until my mid twenties when I read an article which stated that it was something that I was born with. Treatment was a pretty hit and miss affair. Immediately I was sent to physiotherapy a number of afternoons a week after school. I had to do the set of exercises each day before school...naturally I hated doing them. But I was trusted to catch a bus to and from the hospital by myself for these sessions so that made me feel a bit special.
At the end of Grade 7 when I was 12, the orthopaedic specialist decided it was time for some different treatment. So the last week of term 4, I was admitted to hospital and put on a device that stretched me (straps under my chin and a strap around my hips, then the attendant turned the handles that the straps were attached to. I believe these machines had been used as instruments of torture, lol) Then when the doctor was satisfied with the amount of stretch, a body plaster was quickly slapped on then the traction was released. I started high school like this; mum bought me a uniform large enough to fit over the cast...I gained some notoriety at school as a rumour went around that I’d been in a horrific car accident. Everyone was nice to me so even though it was a ‘crock’ to be like that, unable to bend etc I had a lot of fun! The plaster casts went from under my chin to where my legs joined my body. The casts were changed about every 6 weeks and sometimes I would be sent home for a week or two without the a cast on. That was absolute bliss! This was the pattern of my life for 20 months. When I was 17 the specialist (in the public system) said there was nothing more to be done except continue with my physio. (There were operations being done where there were rods inserted in spines but my parents had felt these to be too risky and they weren't really informed by the specialist who had treated them with contempt.)
One of only 2 photos of me in my plaster cast...sorry one of my mum's blurry pics!
In my 30s I would wear close fitting tops and from the left side they didn't look too bad...
in the last 10 years or so, the 'bumps and humps' have become more pronounced as my spine deteriorates. So now my mother would be pleased as I tend to wear loose shirts over tank tops.
Wearing my 'uniform' of loose clothing on the upper body, nursing 2 week old Maximo in 2013.
Very dramatically, my GP told me 7 years ago that my spine would collapse within 2 years and I would be wheelchair bound. With the help of my Bowen therapist I railed against that and when my GP retired last August, she said I was amazing...well for now I am! Lol
A few years ago I checked out whether there were any support groups for scoliosis sufferers. I found a UK Facebook group called 'Look Good Twisted' but it has gone a bit quiet. I paid a subscription to an Australian association based in Melbourne...they took my money for 3 years without anything in return. But one day at the Zillmere Knit and Natter a lady working at the centre came up to me and said she noticed I had scoliosis, and said she did too! So Lenore and I have formed our very own support group. We hope to find others to join us but till then we two will have our catch up lunches and coffees!
We have met at the lovely Matthew Thomas restaurant in Sandgate...the houses either side of MT are all beautifully restored just like the old Masonic Hall building in which the restaurant is located.