When Katie Greenacre had spinal fusion surgery 10 years ago, she learned what it was like to lose her dignity in hospital, but she has no regrets.
Without that surgery, she would be living a very different life.
Katie was diagnosed with scoliosis after a routine check with the school nurse when she was 13.
After regular routine check-ups throughout her adolescence, a time when the disease would normally show itself at its worst, she thought it was over and had come out on top.
At 21 the curvature of her spine was 20 degrees and she started to feel pain. By 24, her spine was 68 degrees and had started to twist.
Spinal fusion surgery was the only option.
“I was scared because I knew what was coming,” Katie said.
“There was also fear of dying or being paralysed,” she said.
It took three months of intense recovery to learn how to walk, drive and move again. She grew an inch in height and was forever having to explain that metal rods in her back were why she had set off security screening systems.
Post surgery was the first time she had ever seen her dad cry and they were tears of relief.
Despite her scoliosis Katie now lives a life she loves and would never have been able to have without her surgery.
She is a teacher and a mum to three children.
Katie hopes that her story will encourage people to look for the signs of scoliosis in their children early.
“Early intervention is the key,” she said.
“My case was unusual.
“Normally scoliosis presents itself in pre-pubescent children and it is more common in girls,” she said.
There is no cure but if detected early, there are effective treatments such as braces and far less invasive surguries available than the spinal fusion Katie went through.
The message from Katie to anyone who is diagnosed with scoliosis is to act early.
“It is scary, but there is hope,” she said.
June is Scoliosis Awareness Month. For more information go to http://www.scoliosis.org/scoliosis-awareness-month/.
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