By Rebecca Drew
THIS BRITISH stunner loves the scar that runs the length of her spine after a gruelling seven-hour open back surgery to correct her scoliosis has given her an extra two-inches in height, despite no longer being able to bend from the hips and hearing her back “squeak” in the cold weather.
Lydia Platton (23) originally from North Yorkshire, United Kingdom, was first unofficially diagnosed with scoliosis in July 2010 by a chiropractor, before being diagnosed with a group of conditions that affect the spine; spondylitis, a type of arthritis that affects the spine, spondylolisthesis, a condition that causes the vertebrae to slip out of place and spondylosis which is a fracture to the vertebrae three-months later.
These conditions affected Lydia’s life for most of her teenage years as she was forced to take days and weeks off school and often missed out on social events with her friends due to the immense pain she was in constantly.
In February 2011, she received a cortisone injection into her nerve root to try to reduce the pain she was in but this was unsuccessful and she later had her first spinal fusion surgery in July 2015. Lydia’s vertebrae L5/S1 were stabilised and decompressed with four bolts, a bone graft and two small rods.
Following these surgeries, Lydia, who now lives in Norway, noticed that the curve in her spine caused by her scoliosis increased. As well as experiencing pain from her other conditions, her curvature affected her self-confidence as she hated ‘the rolls’ that were on her right-hand side. But since surgery in July 2018 to replace the metalwork with longer rods and nine further bolts to reduce the curve in her spine, Lydia has been unable to work due to pain and avoids being outside for extended periods of time in winter as the cold causes her metalwork to squeak.
Surgery has encouraged Lydia to embrace her body and since her most recent operation, she has grown almost two-inches in height, going from 5ft 8in to 5ft 10in. Most importantly she loves the scar on her back and can’t wait for the summer to show it off.
“A chiropractor actually noticed that I had scoliosis before I was officially diagnosed with it and the other three conditions. Initially doctors thought that the pain I was getting was something to do with my hips as I had at the same time as causing the other three conditions, fractured my Iliac crest,” said Lydia.
“It took over a year visiting three different hospitals for doctors to discover what was actually wrong with me.
“I had started to notice my scoliosis in my teenage years but was unable to do anything about it because of my other conditions. After my first surgery though, my scoliosis did worsen over time which caused me to have the second surgery.
“Growing up with these conditions was hard. Missing out on lots of school, social events and being unable to live a normal teenage life sometimes quite isolating.
“Other kids didn’t necessarily understand my problems and maybe thought I was weak because I would let it get to me so much? Maybe that’s just how it came across, but it sure did feel like it at times.
“Before my surgery my scoliosis would impact me all the time, my self-confidence especially. I would be so wary about what clothes I could wear because I didn’t want anyone to see how disgusting my back looked.
“I used to hate my rolls that were on my right-hand side that my scoliosis caused as I always thought they made me look fatter than I was. The surgery made me grow almost two inches and left me with a 12-inch scar.
“Because of the surgery I can no longer bend at my hips, which is super annoying when I need to get something from the floor. It’s also made it hard to sleep and I feel like the rods and screws are constantly pulling. Living in Norway, it’s very cold this time of year and being outside for long periods of time makes my metalwork start to squeak and and my back become very tight and uncomfortable.
“My back also gets very cold, very quickly and sometimes feels like I have an ice pop stuck down the centre of it. So, it limits how long I can be outside for this time of year. I’m also super nervous about falling on the ice, that sure would hurt a lot. So, if I’m by myself, I tend to stay indoors.”
Scoliosis is a condition where the spine twists and curves to the side. It can affect people of any age but usually starts in children aged 10 to 15.
Lydia went on to discuss her difficult recovery journey from her most recent surgery.
“I was on a High Dependency Unity (HDU) for two days after and another four days on a specialist spinal ward. The recovery that my body made within the first two weeks after the surgery was incredible,” she said.
“From not being able to walk, sit up, go to the bathroom or do anything for myself in the first week by the second week I could do a lot of the above although still in a lot of pain. But it was amazing just how quickly my body recovered from being face down on the operating table for seven hours with my back sliced wide open.
“However, the rapid recovery within those two weeks soon slowed down as I’m now almost six months post-operative and I’m still unable to go back to work. I still have lots of pain during the day as it feels like the rods are going to rip or tear all the time.
“My body always feels so heavy now. At the end of a day just being at home I really struggle to stand up straight because of the pain. I haven’t driven since my surgery as I’m unable to because of the pain and medication I’m on and also because I can’t do a lot of the movements that driving requires me to do.
“It also causes me a lot of stress and anxiety if I get invited to go somewhere with friends or family. I always worry that if my pain gets really bad that I won’t be able to get home, no one will help me, or that people will think I’m attention seeking.
“I shouldn’t complain, I’ll be ever so grateful to both of my surgeons for trying to fix my problematic spine.”
Lydia has been documenting her journey on Instagram, and has had the support of her family throughout all of her surgeries and recovery, she shared her words of advice to others.
“It’s ok not to be ok. I spent a lot of my time trying to hide my pain, trying to fit in and be normal and trying to carry on as if nothing was wrong with me,” she said.
“It took me a long time to accept that there are a lot of things that I won’t be able to do again, things that I loved. But that’s the card I got dealt and that’s ok. I’m going to live my life as well as I can.
“Screening for scoliosis used to happen in schools and I would like to fight for that to be brought back into place. Three out of 100 people have scoliosis and if they are given braces at the right age, which can’t be done for all cases, then it may mean that they might not have to have the surgery.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/back_to.life