I was diagnosed with scoliosis as a teenager. So, statistically speaking, I was ticking all the boxes as a scoliosis sufferer because:
- scoliosis affects mostly young girls (80% of the cases)
- scoliosis develops mostly during puberty.
My spine had a 45 degree curvature and when I was told I had to undergo surgery I panicked (and so did my mother). As a teenager, the last thing you need is to give your peers yet another excuse to mock you.
Not only I needed to have surgery, but I was also told I had to wear a brace for one year after the operation (not a good look). If untreated, my scoliosis would aggravate in a matter of months and it would have left me in a serious debilitating condition with severe complications to my breathing, blood circulation and nervous system.
Spinal surgery is extremely invasive and high risk as a small minority of surgery patients can become paralysed. My surgery straightened the thoracic part of my spine which was more affected and a Harrington rod was attached to my vertebrae from T4 to L1.
After my operation I was bed-bound for 1 month and was not allowed to sit up for a few weeks (this was the hospital policy in Italy, where I had the operation; in the UK you are told to sit up the day after the operation).
After being dismissed from the hospital I had physiotherapy but I was unimpressed with the low levels of motivation and care the State-paid physiotherapists had.
The worst part of the recovery programme was being told what I was NOT allowed to do:
- parachuting (ahem, not that I had planned to do it anyway…)
- long distance running
- martial arts
I have always been rebellious so I set off on a mission to challenge all these limitations.
Over the years, I enthusiastically threw myself into all sorts of fun and exciting activities (DISCLAIMER: ALWAYS CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR WHAT ACTIVITIES YOU ARE ALLOWED TO PERFORM IF YOU HAVE SCOLIOSIS).
My list of achievements grew bigger and bigger:
- climbed Machu Picchu in Peru
- street dance performance at the Royal Festival Hall in London
- paragliding in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- kick boxing classes at the gym
I set up my own business, Energya, as a way to raise awareness of health and wellbeing issues. As a massage therapist, I put my body through a lot of physical challenges and I love it, although I will not be able to practise massage in the long term because of wear and tear.
I have a support team of massage therapists, physiotherapists, osteopaths and chiropractors who look after my back and I have been symptom-free for years. I would recommend having regular osteopathy and myofascial release massage if you suffer from scoliosis.
I hope my story will inspire others who suffer from scoliosis.
Picture credits: Paola Bassanese