I am willing to bet that a lot of you don’t know it, that June is Scoliosis Awareness Month! You are probably asking what scoliosis is again, and we will tell you.
Do you have a friend or have you had a friend or better still, you know that guy or lady in your street that has a raised shoulder or does not seem to be able to stand straight, there is always this slant in their posture? Well, that is scoliosis; an abnormal curve of the spinal cord.
It is not talked about a lot because a large number of people know nothing about it and those who have the condition or have a family member who has it, don’t take it seriously out of ignorance.
Scoliosis is still very much unknown in Nigeria. We, therefore, need to create awareness, not only for the sake of putting an end to stigmatization(those with this condition are subject to ridicule and name-calling) but to also ensure that our loved ones get immediate medical attention once it is detected.
Abimbola Oladapo, a Nigerian living with scoliosis, has been doing this, over the years through her co-founded non-profit organization, Beyond a Curved Spine.
At 11, a time when adolescent girls are most particular about appearances, was the first time the curve on her spine was detected, and until now, her journey has not been an easy one.
She, like everyone else who has it, only knew something was wrong when her peers and family members kept nagging at her to stand straight and stop raising a shoulder.
One thing about scoliosis is that it has no known cause except for cases of cerebral palsy or an injury to the spine, and it is hardly noticed until there is a significant curve, which raises questions.
And even at that, her family thought Abimbola was trying to be ”cool” and stylish in her walk.
Nope, it wasn’t ‘swag’ rather, it was simply a symptom of scoliosis.
Fast forward to a few months later, my back was looking like a capital letter “S”. At this point, it was more than a bad posture. From there on, life ran along like a fast-paced movie, the plot anchored on one fateful Easter holiday where I returned home from boarding school and mum took me to the hospital. I’ll never forget; it was the first, either of us would hear of scoliosis.Abimbola
When scoliosis is detected and treatment is sought early, the patient can be assisted with back braces to stop the progression of the curve and surgery for severe cases.
Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine that occurs most often during the growth spurt just before puberty. While scoliosis can be caused by conditions such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy, the cause of most scoliosis is unknown and it is estimated that about 3% of adolescents have scoliosis.Mayo Clinic
Of course, this condition comes with its ample share of self-esteem issues. The stares alone and oh the rude inquisitions are enough to hide and take extra care to cover up.
Ambibola shares how she learned to deal with that and evolve, using this mantra, ”whatever you expose to light, you shield from the darkness”. She went on to say that sharing her ordeal has helped her overcome her fear of vulnerability.
To know if a loved one has Scoliosis, use the following symptoms as a guide
- uneven shoulders
- uneven waist
- slanted posture
- constant backache.
I realize that what matters at the end of the day is, what I think. If your heart doesn’t validate you; if it doesn’t say happy, strong, thankful, etc. There’s no form of external push that’ll ever satisfy you.Abimbola
Like we said earlier, scoliosis does not have a cure. However, it can be managed. And for those living with scoliosis, here is our advice which you can take to the bank; Live. Breathe. And Live, baby girl.
Scoliosis does not define you. So own your body, we mean OWN IT and Live Your Best Life.
It’s still scoliosis awareness month, spread the word! Also, you can find the rest of Abimbola’s story here.
Featured image @onepowerwoman