Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Interesting Facts- Scoliosis
So what is Scoliosis exactly?
Scoliosis (pronounced: sko-lee-oh-sis) is a condition where a person's spine is curved as either a "S" or a "C". The word itself comes from a greek word that means crooked. Which is a good way to describe someone's spine if they have this problem.
Did you know that every 3 out of 100 people have scoliosis? And it is more likely to affect girls than boys? Although no one is sure what causes this condition, doctors and scientists do know that you are more likely to get this if someone in your family also has it. When the doctors aren't sure why someone has this it is called Idiopathic Scoliosis.
In some cases you can tell if someone has scoliosis. People, like me (yes I have this, but we'll talk about this later), may tilt to the left or right or lean to the side. In my case, my spine caused me to have one shoulder higher than the other and one of my legs was longer than the other. If the doctors aren't sure you have this condition they may x-ray your spine to make sure.
Most cases are not servere but sometimes they are. If the spine continues to curve or twist too much it can lead to breathing problems, heart function, and may cause pain later on in life. In 7th grade when we talked to my doctor about this he calmly told me that if I didn't get spinal fusion (one of the surgeries you can get if your spine is bad) I wouldn't live past forty because my spine would get so bad. By then I was already have breathing problems.
For some people who have scoliosis but their isn't bad, they may get a back brace. I never wore one, but I looked at them a couple of times. Some people who have back braces do not have to wear them all the time, they may only wear them at night, while other must wear them for most of the day. While a back brace will never get rid of scoliosis, it can prevent it from curving even more and prevent surgery. Often times, your spine will straighten out on its own by the time you are done growing.
About my own Scoliosis problem
I was nine years old when we first found out I had scoliosis. My doctors think I got it from my dad who had it as a child but out grew it. The doctors decided not to do anything at the time and monitor my back from time to time. When I was in seventh grade my spine had significantly curved. My upper back had a 65 degree curve while my lower back had a 73 degree curve. The only solution was to get spinal fusion.
Spinal fusion is when during a long surgery (mine was nine hours) doctors place metal rods on either side of the spine to help correct and prevent the spine from getting worse. During mine they had to take out a rib (yes they grow back) to get to part of my spine through my side, remove some disks, and screwed in screws to hold the rods in place. The surgery didn't fully correct the scoliosis though, I ended up having a 32 degree curve at my lower spine and a 29 degree curve at the top.
I ended up having to be in the hospital for a week where my only memories are fuzzy and weird (lets just say that I had so much pain medication that I, at times, thought that ceiling was moving, I once was moved to a beach house, I watched The Wizard of Oz which I hadn't, and I have no memory whatsoever of my pastor coming in- and he came twice). Sitting up and walking was hard at first but eventually I was able to.
When I finally was able to come home, I was out of school for a whole month and spent most of the time on my couch or in my bed reading or watching TV. It was extremely boring and uncomfortable. Lets just say that I ended up failing my math class that quarter because I couldn't catch up on the homework. Thirty problems every day no odds or evens and a teacher who complains that I should have known how to do the homework.
Anyways, four years later I am able to do everything (well most everything) except for tackle football (there goes my dream of getting into the NFL as the only female player...actually not really). I have a scar running down my spine and another one branching off from that and wrapping around my waist. I can't touch my toes, lift anything over fifty pounds, and my back makes the prefect excuse not to go on roller coasters...which I have never liked. Besides that I still sometimes have breathing problems, and my back gets this weird tingling feeling when I sleep or when I'm not wearing much (like a swimsuit). I also have a little white dot on both my arms from where I had IVs in.
To say the least, surgery isn't all that scary since most of the time you're not awake (I got one of those face masks and they let me choose what flavor of lip balm to apply...yes lip balm...it makes the mask smell good when they turn on the gas. If you ever have a mask don't get the strawberry-banana lip balm!). The worst part was being bored afterwards and the medicene. It tasted really bad so my aunt got the idea to put it in apple juice and ever since then I can't drink apple juice cause I'll get the same gross taste.
In my view, I was lucky. My doctor met a girl who was around her early teens who's spine had a 123 degree curve. No lie. They were only able to correct it to 75 degrees. And he also told me that one of his patients who got surgery, she was able to go onto the nationals in acrobatics even after hers.
Fast Facts about Scoliosis
So, do you have scoliosis or do you know anyone with it? Did they/you have to get a brace or surgery at all?