I have scoliosis, and I am fused pretty much all the way up and down my spine, which makes me part bionic. I know, I know, lucky me (ha, just kidding). It’s really not that great. In fact, the truth is that being fused feels kind of like someone strapped a giant piece of wood alongside my entire spine and told me that now I have to live this way forever. Don’t get me wrong, I am totally used to my piece of wood that limits my mobility, but it does make things slightly more challenging. Not all people living with post-surgery scoliosis will go through the same challenges as I do, but I wanted to point out a few of the most annoying ones that I deal with almost daily. Also, it doesn’t hurt to build a little more awareness about the challenges that people deal with, especially for all those people with super healthy spines out there in the world.
- Getting up out of bed, off a super-low coach, or out of a low sports car. It’s hard to get up out of a low bed, couch or vehicle with what feels like a piece of wood strapped to your spine. I find ways to manage it, and most of the time, I don’t think anyone really notices how awful it feels for me, but it’s not my ideal way to travel, sit or sleep.
- Discomfort or pain come daily. Having spinal fusion makes it challenging to move and be flexible, but most days, it is also challenging because it comes with pain and discomfort. Some days I am only in pain, some days I can’t seem to get comfortable, and then there are some dreadful days where I am in pain and uncomfortable; those are the worst.
- Bending sideways and even forward is not so easy. Due to the way my spine is curved, as well as the added bonus of my spinal fusion, I have very limited mobility in my spine. I can bend forward because my hips are flexible (thank you yoga), but it’s not the most comfortable position for me to be in, and I can’t really bend to the side, because my body does not move that way. It means that if I drop something to my left or right, I have to squat to pick it up. It sucks.
- I can’t sleep on my stomach. Prior to surgery I would find so much relief in lying on my belly on the floor, but post-surgery the thought of doing that seems excruciating. I am not sure why it is so painful and uncomfortable, but it kind of feels like I have a thousand pounds on top of me and it’s crushing me. I really do not like doing it, but I do suffer through it once in awhile when I go get a massage. Side note: it’s easier to bear through it if you have a pillow underneath your legs.
- Hiking up any incline. What happens when I am hiking up any hill is that I can’t do it and keep a straight posture. In order for me not to feel like I am going to fall forward and die, I have to bend forward. This puts so much pressure on my lower back and hips that I kind of feel like I am going collapse. It helps tremendously to use hiking poles, or even to do it backwards. I know it sounds strange, but for some reason it is much easier to hike up an incline post surgery if you turn around and hike it backwards.
- I have an itch that I can’t scratch. Due to surgery, I lost a ton of sensation alongside my spine. Most of the time, I do not even notice it, and the only time when it is absolutely horrible is when my back is itchy and no matter how much I scratch, I can’t feel it. It’s basically the closest thing to torture.
Alrighty ladies and gentlemen, I hope my list is insightful and helpful in some way. Please let me know if I missed something that you think should definitely be added to the list of overlooked challenges.