Alyssa’s Back

“A little while ago, @maggie.haw sent me a quote that she said reminded her of me. It read “scars show you went through something hard. And you survived. And it’s your story.” These are my scars, and this is my story:

I was 10 when i was diagnosed with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, or in simpler terms: for no apparent reason, my spine curved sideways. It was an incidental finding, and my family was told that “nothing would come of it”. When I was 13 years old, I began experiencing intense back pain, but i pushed it aside as unimportant. In those months when the pain first started, I vividly remember getting a beautiful red dress tailored. I stood in front of the mirror admiring the dress whilst the tailor pinned it to fit my body. But, she noticed something odd: my spine didn’t seem to line up with the zipper. It was in that moment when “nothing” became life-altering. About a month later, I was diagnosed with severe scoliosis.

What many people don’t know about scoliosis is that it affects so much more than just your spine. Scoliosis affects the whole body including the skeletal system, central nervous system, and the digestive and hormonal systems. It’s not just back pain. My scoliosis presented itself as uneven posture, frequent severe migraines, numbness in my legs and feet, and muscle and nerve pain.

I underwent my first scoliosis correction surgery in June 2017. My surgeons used a procedure called Vertebral Body Tethering (VBT) where they placed screws in my T-11 to L-3 vertebrae and used a cord to pull my spine straighter. Unfortunately, my curves were too strong for the cord, and the first surgery failed. On July 27, 2020, I underwent two more procedures: one being another lumbar VBT from T-11 to L-3, and the second being a thoracic spinal fusion. 11 hours later, I was 2 inches taller and had two beautiful scars as proof of my story.

To the person battling scoliosis: scoliosis is a beast. It’s relentless and intense; but you are so much stronger than you think, and you are not defined by your curves. I hope my story inspires you, and if you take anything from it, let it be this: I am so proud of you and your strength.”

Alyssa Edwards @alyssaaedwardss