No-one should go through scoliosis alone. With your help we can support people with scoliosis and their families
Having lived with scoliosis for 37 years, managing an unusually active life, riding motorcycles and trying out other extreme sports that challenge me, I felt it was now time that I started giving something back to help others with the condition. I started surfing the net and contacted SAUK to see how I could help, and after a few emails and phone calls the team at SAUK suggested I become a Regional Secretary to help support current and new members, so here I am.
I was 6 months old when my mother noticed something wasn't right, and having two older brothers to compare me against she quickly whisked me off the doctor. The doctor advised there was nothing wrong with me and dismissed my mother’s concern, advising her she was making too much fuss. Not happy with the doctor’s comments, my parents took me to another doctor who advised the same. Unsupported and not sure what to do next, my parents started to monitor my progress and it was only when I started to walk that the problems were more visual.
My parents took me back to the doctors and demanded they look at me again. I was referred to my local hospital and doctors there knew very little of the problem but thought it best to refer me to an orthopaedic hospital, since it was clear that something was wrong. After some pulling about and a number of X-ray's the consultants diagnosed me with scoliosis and a rib twist. The consultants discussed my situation with my parents and advised traction was the best option. This treatment would mean time away from home, which my parents were not happy with, so after some heavy questioning about the rack option, a consultant amongst the group suggested that I should lead a normal life to see how I managed. From that point on I had a hospital appointment every 6 months and later, annually.
Fortunately for me, I had two older brothers who inspired me to mirror their actions as siblings do. So, I adapted quickly and I was soon riding bikes, skateboards and doing everything a child would do. At the age of 4, my brothers and I got motorcycles for Christmas and from then on you could say that was the start of a misspent youth! We rode together most weekends on our bikes and Dad had to prize us from the handlebars at the end of the day. The consultants were obviously concerned, but seeing my progress just advised my parents that I should be careful.
Riding made my upper body very strong and during my early years my curve progressed slowly. Then at the age of 13, the consultants advised it was time for me to have a spinal fusion. The curve had reached 60 degrees and I remember being super scared about the thought. A few months later, I went to hospital and after a few delays the operation with a Harrington rod was completed. I recovered very quickly and was sitting up in a chair a week later when the doctors came round. I recall looks of surprise on their faces and remember them saying I was probably the quickest to recover from such an operation. I was happy with that comment and I was thrilled to be back at home within a month, sporting a Boston brace. I bounced back quickly as most children do and I was back on the bike in under a year, albeit taking it very easy! Schooling was a difficult time, because I was an easy target for name calling, but I muscled through. Since then I have led a perfectly normal life and have had some good fun jobs in sales, photography, sign writing, engineering and now management.
A few years back I was talking to consultants about removing the Harrington rod after a car accident, but after a number of visits and scans I wasn't convinced (gut feeling), so I searched down my retired consultant and he advised, "David, if it ain’t broke don't fix it". Those words continually roll around my head, so whilst I'm active and mobile I'll continue as I am until an operation is totally necessary.
Anyone who has had a spinal fusion knows it's not all pain free, but keeping fit and active certainly helps. I have a very good job in London managing 20 engineers and have a lovely healthy family. My wife and two daughters aged 8 and 4 certainly keep me busy, and like most young families we enjoy walking, cycling, swimming and of course I still escape occasionally and ride my bike. Like anyone of my age if you overdo an activity or try something new, you suffer afterwards. However, having still got the Harrington rod, on very rare occasions I feel that pinching burning sensation that tells me “timeout”. In the past 2 years, I have discovered comfort in a muscle-balance therapy, which I have noticed helps me think shift and allows me to go for longer periods of time without feeling pain.
My journey has been very good so far and for someone with scoliosis, I would say I'm one of the lucky ones...