Ireland will this year celebrate the second annual Scoliosis Awareness day on Saturday June 27th.
Growing up with Scoliosis was exceptionally difficult for me because I didn’t know anyone else who suffered with it – leaving me feeling like a total outcast. I had very little information available to me (bearing in mind the internet was still a *new* thing). There were few online forums, but the information presented on these sites was more-often-than-not false. I had nobody to ask the ‘what if’s’, and simple things like what things should I bring to hospital with me?
Until 2010 there was no direct organisation or body that offered help and advice to the thousands of Scoliosis sufferers across Ireland. Set up by Gary Farrell, Scoliosis-Ireland aims to educate those who don’t know about the condition, and help those on their journey with it. The disease can affect anyone at any age; both males and females, however it is most common among young girls going through puberty. Below are symptoms to look out for: early detection is key.
When I was diagnosed I never imagined that almost ten years later I would still be sharing my story. But the negatives that came from these horrendous surgeries have given me the strength to help others going through life-changing procedures. At twenty-one, being restricted in so many ways is a challenge that I never thought I would have to take on. But the human body is an extraordinary thing, and as humans we learn to adapt quickly. I think what people assume is that you go into have a procedure done and that’s it; you’re fixed. You don’t only have to prepare your body physically, but also get your mind ready to have your body cut, opened, pulled at, have foreign bodies put in, and be stitched up. Although the vlogs were difficult to do, the feedback I received is overwhelming and so rewarding knowing that I’ve helped people who are in the position that I was once in.
Scoliosis has appeared in Irish media a lot recently due to the lengthy waiting lists that young children and adults are being asked to wait. Luckily for me (or unluckily..), my spine had deformed so bad in such a short amount of time that I wasn’t left waiting long for my first surgery, or my subsequent surgeries thereafter. To put it into context: imagine trying to live a normal life with a broke bone; except this bone squeezes on all of your other organs, decreasing your lung capacity, producing crippling pain, and horrendous fatigue among other symptoms. Dr. Pat Kiely, one of Ireland’s leading spinal surgeons and founding surgeon of Straight Ahead has recently launched the ‘walk a mile’ initiative to raise funds for life-changing Scoliosis surgeries and cut the waiting-lists for children. Croí Cróga, an activity-based group focused on raising money for charities, have this year chosen Straight Ahead Ireland as their primary charity. They and Dr Kiely want everyone to ‘walk a mile’ for the children who cannot. If you would like to get involved all you have to do is walk a mile, upload a picture to your social media site, and text MILE to 50300 to donate €4; all of which goes towards funding Scoliosis surgeries and Straight Ahead.