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4 years

Today marks FOUR years since my operation. In that time I have got 3 A Levels, 1 AS Level, 1 Extended Project, Grade 7 Violin, 1/3 of a degree and countless achievements outside of education. I have had multiple jobs, am on committee for two student media outlets and have produced more print and audio content than I could possibly list. I’ve cut my hair for charity and raised £400. I’ve met Prince Harry, seen the Queen and interviewed someone from the BBC. I’ve won a writing competition, most likely to become head teacher and Best Journalist for the student magazine. I don’t even live at home full time anymore.

Of course it’s not all amazing things. I’ve gone through periods of stress, anxiety and potential depression. I lost and painfully rebuilt friendships. I’ve been homesick, I’ve had too many arguments and there’s far too much mess in my room. I eat a lot of rubbish and sometimes I probably don’t eat enough in proper meals. Sleep can be lacking and I don’t keep up with current affairs as much as I would like (so same as when I was in hospital!). Plus I keep missing Bake Off!

But, essentially today marks another year since my operation and 4 in total. In fact it’s been over 8 years since my journey with scoliosis started and I’m excited for the years to come and writing updates for 5/10/15 years post-op!

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Post-op 3: Tuesday 4th June 2013

The next event I wish to talk about is my third post-op, which took place on Tuesday 4th June 2013. It was the day of Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee Coronation celebration thing, but our appointment was late enough that we missed all the busyness around Westminster for that. I think we saw a fair number of hats, dresses and posh suits on our way there though.

Anyway, we arrived for the appointment and I wasn’t all that worried on the whole. We went through x-ray OK I think and were soon back to wait for the actual appointment. We were seen by Jonathan Lucas, i.e. the main man, which was good because we like seeing the highest authority. However, his news was not good and I will give you his words from the letter we were sent about the appointment:

“I reviewed Elizabeth who is, unfortunately I think is developing a junctional kyphosis between T9 and T10 at the end of her proximal metal work”. He later adds that he is worried about this, and states that the angle has gone from 12* to 18.3* (couldn’t find the degree sign). I was really worried because in no way did I want to go through another operation and the stress that goes with it. Of course in the moment I didn’t think about how in general in medicine they do give worst case scenario, and actually this incident shows how great it is that they can monitor you. So, if you’re not sure about having scoliosis, or indeed any other condition, then please see a doctor or try to get a referral to a specialist because once you are in the system they will be able to track your progress and see trends in changes.

Anyway, once all this was over with I had a cry and had a smidge of M&S Food and probably cried again and again and many more times before our next appointment in three months time. It was a massive shock to be thinking that everything was normal and then suddenly there was another problem rearing its head! But I managed to keep living and stuff and tried not to think about it too much.

So, I’ll leave it there for today and you can wait with bated breath for tomorrow’s post, filling you in on the rest of June!

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Post-op appointment 2: Tuesday 18th December 2012

Mid-December came and it was already time for my second post-op appointment. The actual appointment went as smoothly as could be expected and, as with the first one, all was doing fine.

Now, seeing as we’d spent all this money on a train up to London, we thought we’d make the most of it, heading over to Regent Street and Oxford Street to see the Christmas lights. We popped into a few shops, including Selfridges which was far too busy for my liking, and saw the Christmas displays outside Hamleys (disappointing). We finished the day with a meal at the Victoria Station branch of Cafe Rouge.

The meal itself was lovely, until we reached dessert. I went for my usual ice cream served with cream and raspberry coulis, which was very nice. Unfortunately almost as soon as I finished it I felt sick, but decided it was just the sudden influx of sugar and that it would pass – this used to be a regular occurrence when I was little. However, when we reached the area of the station leading to the platforms I actually threw up (luckily we had a plastic bag without holes for this purpose). I was embarrassed, my parents were annoyed and we had to pay 30p to use the station toilets. This wasn’t even a one off as I’d finished off a meal out with a rich cheesecake a week earlier and promptly threw up. Basically I no longer eat dessert when I eat out – not sure if the sickness is a legacy from the drugs I had or if it’s just me!

So yeah, sorry about the nauseating nature of this post, it was also horrible to write. My next post chronicles more nausea actually but don’t let that put you off as the real subject is our youth group weekend away!

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6 Week Post-Op Appointment: Tuesday 6th November 2012

So, I’d made the first steps to return to school and it was time for me to return to the hospital for my first post-op appointment, 6 weeks after my operation.

I was naturally very nervous about going back to the hospital, especially the journey up on the train. Luckily my appointment wasn’t too early in the day so we didn’t get a particularly busy train. I can’t remember if we got the underground, taxi or walked from the station to the Evelina, but as always we arrived in plenty of time.

We had a fairly smooth time in x-ray, I don’t think we waited long and they were very happy with my x-ray friendly clothing (plain t-shirt and jogging bottoms). There was little of note recorded in my actual appointment, just good recovery and healing. Once appointment stuff was finished with, we went down to m&s food for some lunch and then headed home. On the way we popped into the grounds of Westminster Abbey to see the remembrance crosses.

There’s nothing else really to say on this, I mean I went home and watched TV then went to bed! My next appointment was scheduled for 6 weeks later, so I’ll be talking about that after filling you in about the rest of 2012! Please follow/comment/ask questions!

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Return to school and Sorted

So, I was finally feeling a little better and well enough to return to school (although technically it was sixth form college, but it was the same school so I just call it school!). We were told that the recommended time off was 4-6 weeks, and I managed 4 from the day I went into surgery, at least according to Facebook! My status update on 24th October read “4 weeks ago I was in theatre, now I’m going back to school and looking forward to French tomorrow!”. To be honest I can barely remember going back, but I must have had French! It wasn’t a full day, I think I only went in for one or two lessons, but I was there long enough to get some work done and sort out what needed to be done over half term. It helped that I was at sixth form because I didn’t have 5 lesson days every day!

Anyway, I still had a fair amount of work, including two history essays and naturally work for my other subjects as well. Half term was a mixture of sleep, relaxing and doing catch up work. I think I also managed to meet up with friends. I went back to school properly on Monday 5th November, but alas, only for one day! That’s not because of any disaster but because I had my first post-op appointment, which I will talk about in my next post. Once that was done with I was able to survive school pretty much full time, luckily having a mum who worked part time at the school who could give me lifts. Most days I did come home and lie down though!

Before I finish, I want to talk about Sorted! On 10th November, the weekend after I went back to school, my youth group went up to London to go to a big Christian youth event in Westminster Chapel (called Sorted). This was my first fun day out post-op and involved a pretty crowded train, so I was quite worried about it. Afterwards we always go out for a meal, but I thought I might want to go home at that point, so my parents came up too (they didn’t come to the event though). The theme in 2012 was Alive, and I got a fantastic T-shirt as well as being encouraged by great bible teaching and seeing a few friends from far away. We also got some reserved pews and a special chair for me because of my back, and our only boy in my youth group carried a cushion for me (thanks Ben!). I even managed a walk down the road during the break so that we could take some photos of the letters of the word Alive for the photo challenge (in the end we were too late to enter)

The train journeys were fine as we all got seats and we also saw loads of teachers, including my history teacher who was also my old form tutor (I remember because I said that I’d seen him after class and showed him my T-shirt) and a teacher from another school, who were both going to an away football match (you probably don’t care about this at all!!). ANYWAY, if you’re interested in Sorted, their website is here: http://www.sortedevent.org.uk/

So, I think that brings this to a close! I managed to catch up pretty quickly on work, but if you have a poor work ethic it will take much longer. Just make sure you seek support from your place of study, and they should help you loads.