Sia I Really Am Titanium

Fun Fact: I have a titanium bar/rod and 23 screws in my back, and once grew 1.7 inches overnight.  

I was 15 when I was diagnosed with what was originally thought as bad posture. After multiple X-rays, MRI scans and orthopaedic examinations, I was officially diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis. Scoliosis is a condition where the spine grows into an S or C shape and causes some severe health defects, which can include serious organ failure. Also, idiopathic meaning, it had no known cause or source. So, this was totally random. 

Some people who have scoliosis can live their whole lives and do nothing about it, but if the curves are severe enough (like mine), surgery becomes extremely likely. The procedure, called a spinal fusion, involves an 11-hour surgery where a surgeon inserts titanium rods and screws into the vertebrae to fuse and straighten the spine. It’s a major operation, and not only did I not know anyone who had ever received the surgery.  I didn’t even know anyone else who had any form of scoliosis. I felt completely alone. The discomfort, pain and the physical appearance was enough to push me through to get the surgery. 

Fast forward to post-surgery, recovery was the most challenging, yet humbling thing I have ever gone through. I spent endless days bed bound, unable to move, at all. Bit, by bit, I learned to sit, stand, rediscover my centre of gravity, walk one step, walk to the door, walk down the corridor, climb a stairs step by step, walk up and down a hill, bend up and down, how to go to the toilet, how to shower, how to roll from side to side in bed, how to get in and out of bed, how to get in and out of a car. I had to learn to live again. It was like becoming a newborn baby again, having to learn everything. I relied on my parents for everything. My parents dressed me, washed me, slept on my floor to just help me move in bed throughout the night. I don’t think it would ever be possible to show my gratitude to my parents for what they went through and did for me. This lasted about 3 months before I finally could get some of my independence back, move back to school, attend school for half-days, then eventually full days. I had to do my Junior Cert music and Home Ec practical after everyone had theirs done, with my own helper. I had missed out on doing my mocks, but I wasn’t complaining. I also got my own centre for my Junior Cert exams, due to the fact that I had a special chair and pillow, and had to get up and walk around every few minutes to avoid stiffness.  

Six years on, I’m back to living a normal life - well as normal as can be. I still get pain from sitting in certain positions for too long, sometimes standing for a long time causes discomfort and some other limitations that I will have forever like not being able to do the crab, or bicycle crunches because I can feel the rod roll, which isn’t pleasant. I also will never be allowed to lift heavy weights. 

It’s crazy what the body can withstand and adapt. Truthfully, I do still get insecure about how my back looks and feels – my scar, and one shoulder still protruding out a small bit – but aside from that, I feel stronger and more badass than I have in a long time. I am indestructible.