Thursday, 11 January 2018

A Year On From My Second Spinal Operation


Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine, if untreated it can cause terrible affects like respiratory problems, cardiac problems, a very noticeable hump, severe pain and terrible posture, if left to progress aggressively these symptoms too progress. As well as the physical side to it, mental state is also affected; developing anxiety or depression.
It's been one year since my second spinal operation and almost 9 years since my first. I'm currently 23 (22 during the last one) and today I am here to give an update on my condition. I never updated from my Scoliosis Story, as it has progressed since my last operation, however if you need a background on my situation you can read my Scoliosis Story here.

So after the post I was overwhelmed with messages and comments and even people coming up to me telling me either they never knew what scoliosis was, they never realised I went through it (and still am) and the amount of people they knew who had it and never knew how serious it was, was massive.

Up until my second operation my mobility was extremely reduced and some days I couldn't walk. As the screw in my vertebrae was boring a hole into it, I was pretty much in agony every second of the day. On the 11th of January 2017, I was admitted to Blackrock in Dublin under my surgeon (same one as my first operation) Mr. Noel. Yes I had health insurance to cover this operation which also allowed me to get this surgery sooner rather than later. Some people may not agree with it but it was genuinely the best option for the condition I was in. In reality I waited 8 years for the second operation as it was affecting my life so much.

This operation was to remove two of the bottom screws of my fusion as they were loose and were creating a hole in my spine. When I woke from the operation -like the first operation- I couldn't walk and I endured severe back spasms around the scar which were terrible; as well as this I endured extreme constipation -yes TMI but it's so common- so the constipation mixed with severe back spasms were not ideal, this lasted about 2 or 3 weeks after the operation-talk about agony!!

I left the hospital after 2 or 3 days, mind you I was in final year of university and I had missed a few weeks of college because of it which added extra stress onto me. This stress lead me to go back to college earlier than I should have which I know was stupid and I should have realised that I went through a second serious spinal operation!

It took a while for me to realise and feel if the second operation worked or not, for the first few weeks I would cry thinking it didn't work as I could still feel the pain. I spoke to a doctor and he told me that it may take up to 8 weeks to feel the full effects of the operation, I held onto his words tight in the hopes he was right. So I waited.

However, saying this, although I had a pain, my lower back felt more free, it's difficult to describe but I definitely believe I had slight more movement! My scar was bigger than expected, about 6 inches, however, they opened up only the bottom of my old scar.

Today marks one year since my operation, and how do I feel? I can hand on heart tell you, I feel better than I have ever felt than before I even found out I had scoliosis which would be the guts of 11 years. 11 years of pain, and after this second operation I feel amazing. I would get the very odd bout of the same "screw pain" if I wore high shoes or pumps, but to think a tiny little screw had been ruining me is incredible. I'm so happy to be able to say that the operation has improved my life immensely! Of course I still have to be careful and not do crazy movements but I'm just delighted with the results.

So if you are experiencing extreme pain after your scoliosis fusion or you know someone with a fused spine complaining of being in pain, I would HIGHLY recommend getting every scan possible to see what it is and do NOT trust a GP's word. Your surgeon knows best.

My scar has faded a lot in just one year, and I haven't put anything on it, except for bio oil after 6 weeks after the operation. I used it for about a month afterwards and then I stopped. However I am pretty happy with how it looks.

So if you take anything from my journey, I want you to understand just how common scoliosis is, and it's on the rise. Get your children screened every year. Once is NOT enough. If it's caught early, there's a chance for a better correction.

If anybody has their story they want to share, I have a series on the blog called #scoliosisstories where you can let the world know your story, everybody's battle with scoliosis is different, and if somebody with it can come across these stories, it'll help them so much and give them the comfort that there are others out there with it. So if you would like to take part, you can email me at or DM me on Instagram @CiaraSwalsh

Remember: Bent not broken.


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