Jen Adair

I was diagnosed with Scoliosis at the age of 14. Staying fit along with sports therapy & deep tissue massage, help me keep the muscle ache and pain I get from the disorder to a low level. Today I take less than half the amount of painkillers I was on 4yrs ago.

At the age of 13/14 I started to suffer discomfort around my right shoulder blade. I was later diagnosed with Scoliosis and by the age of 18, I was popping 21 painkillers a day due to the pain. Every visit to the hospital resulted in more or stronger painkillers. Back then, painkillers were the answer to everything!

I have what's classed as double Scoliosis. My spine has an ‘S’ shaped curve and a twist in the upper thoracic, causing a rotation in my rib cage and compressing my left side. I believe the twist is the hub of my pain. My shoulder blade protrudes out from my back resulting in over stretched and over tight muscles. I get discomfort all over my back where muscles are compensating for the deformity.   

For years I plodded on, getting through the day by aid of my prescription; doing very little in the form of exercise, or any activity for that matter, which would aggravate my muscles and cause more pain. I couldn't even go out drinking with friends because of the reaction alcohol would have with my painkillers. I spent my 21st birthday sober. Not your usual introduction to the early twenties. This certainly wasn't the happiest period of my life.   

It wasn't until I reached my mid-twenties that my life took a different course. I had been living in London but moved up North to Manchester for a new job. This led me to a new group of friends and eventually a different way of life.  I was struggling to deal with my back at this point. The areas in which I suffered pain had spread into my neck, ribs & tops of my shoulders. Of course this resulted in taking painkillers more frequently.  

After being very active at school; playing badminton, being on the hockey & netball team...  I realised there was a hole in my life that such activities used to fill. A weekend away with friends hiking in the Lake District woke up my old thirst for sport. It made me realise I needed such activities in my life as it made me happy. I then took it upon myself to arrange regular visits to mountain peaks and I signed up at the local climbing wall. A few years later I was a vision of fitness and my outlook on life had completely changed.

About the same time I was introduced to alternative therapy (sports therapy & chiropractic) their outlook on the condition was very different to the one portrayed to me in the past. The fitter and stronger you are the better! This encouraged me to keep no boundaries when it came to sport. Granted, gaining fitness and strength resulted in sore muscle and a lot of pain but regular treatments kept this at bay. Today, it is more of a question of which sports I don't do.  

However, in March 2012, whilst in a routine check-up, I was faced with some shocking news. My condition had deteriorated and doctors advised that only surgery would prevent the condition degenerating further. This was a very difficult decision for me to make, especially at the age of 32; I had come so far without the need for surgery and was struggling to come to terms with the prospect.  My decision however was to secure my future.  I was currently ok, I managed pain and kept myself fit and healthy with exercise & sport, this however wasn’t going to guarantee my scoliosis from getting worse or prevent problems when I hit old age.  I underwent spinal surgery in September 2012.  After a painstaking 10 hours of continuous surgery, the operation (albeit difficulties) was a success.

My back unfortunately is still not without its problems, as a spinal fusion can only correct the curve and not the rotation, so I believe that is why I still suffer with pain.  I do however class my condition as ‘character building’ and accept I will probably never be pain free; instead I work with a Sports Therapist to keep my pain manageable and it doesn’t stop me from doing anything. In fact, it drives me to do more!

Living a healthy lifestyle and staying fit has enabled me to try all sorts of things and has taken me too many beautiful places in the world.  I am now a very keen yoga goer, climber, skier & runner and have tried my hand at many sports such as ice climbing, snowboarding and surfing with many more still on my tick list.

Since my operation, I have decided to test the boundaries of my limitations and have signed up to, what is known as, the hardest footrace on earth, the UVU Jungle Marathon in Brazil.  The Jungle Marathon is a 254km, self-sufficient, 6 stage race over 7 days, in the remote Amazon Jungle and takes place this October 2014.  Some days I wake up and wonder what on earth I was thinking to sign up to such a thing and other days, I can’t contain the excitement of actually being a part of such a challenge.  You can follow my progress via www.breathedocumentary.com & www.facebook/breathedocumentary

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