The Diagnosis

In August 1993 I was diagnosed with having Scoliosis. At only 13 years of age I was very scared! I was referred to the local hospital by my GP for X-rays and was told that my curve was 23 degrees. The information about Scoliosis available was very limited, though I was put in contact with the SAUK (the Scoliosis Association of the UK - an independent support group for people suffering from the condition). As if by coincidence, I had previously read a book about a girl suffering with a condition called Scoliosis and this meant that I immediately had some idea of what was being discussed. The book is:

“Deenie” by Judy Blume

available from - or

If you or your daughter are in the same position right now, I strongly recommend that you obtain a copy of this invaluable book. It’s about a young girl who is diagnosed with Scoliosis and in it she explains how she came to terms with the condition and ultimately coped with it. Having read this it helped me to understand what I had to prepare myself for.

Preparing for the Operation

For the next 11 months I was to undergo months of phsio therapy. I was given a number of excercises that I needed to do twice a day. This would help the bones to remain subtle for the surgery I would undergo.

I had regular visits to Stoke Mandeville hospital to see my consultant. The curve was deteriorating rapidly, my posture was suffering. The curve was causing my ribcage to to put pressure on my lungs, making breathing very difficult (see pictures here).

The Operation

On 1st July 1994 (at 14 years of age) I was admited for my corrective surgery at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. I was due to be in hospital for the next 6-8 weeks. The morning of the operation I was prepared for surgery and taken down to the operating rooms. This was the first point that I felt scared. I had to say bye to my Dad as only one parent was allowed into have the pre med with me. The surgery took 6 hours.

For the next 6 hours it was neccesary to take bone from my right hip to fuse 4 of the vertebrae in my lower back together, then 2 metal rods (each about the size of a pencil) were placed at either side of my spine with plastic clips connecting to my ribs. The incitions made on my back to do the operation were most of the length of my spine, and about 8cm on my hip.

My Family

At the age of 14 I took everything in my stride and accepted what had to be done - the best way to tackle it, head on! My parents were obviously very apprehensive, all they could do was to sit and watch it all happen. Once I had the surgery was when I really needed my family around. My poor Mum didn’t leave my bedside for 2 weeks and my Dad and brother would be travelling every afternoon to be with me. Having this vital support network really speeded up my recovery.


I only ended up having to spend 2 weeks in hospital, I was so determined to get home that I did everything possible to get home. I asked my consultant what I needed to do to go home. He put me in a wheelchair and took me to 2 flights of stairs and said “I’d like to see you walk up and down a flight of stairs” within a few days I did!!

Life needed to be adaped but I wanted to be better, it was so nice to stand tall again I wanted to make the most of it!

Going Home & Regaining Normality

When I came home from hospital life had to be adapted. I had to wear a brace for 6 months (in the day and took it off at night). I spent the next 6 weeks of the school summer holidays worrying about going back to school as I wondered what people would say. I didn’t need to though! When I went back to school everyone was fasinated and though it was great! My Friends and Teachers really supported me. I still have the brace, I wanted to keep it to see how skinny I was then!!! I don’t think I’d even get one leg into it now!!!!

11 Years on!

Now 11 years on and with my own children I realise how difficult and traumatic the whole experience was for those closest to me. I am now married with 2 children, 2 goldfish, 2 Guinea Pigs…..and a mortgage!!! On a day to day basis I don’t think about my Scoliosis experiences. Occasionally my 4 year old son will notice the scars on my back and say “Mummy, why have you got lines on your back?” I just say “Mummy had a poorly back when she was a little girl and had to get the Doctor to fix it” He seems happy with that!

Stories - Natalie
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