Scoliosis Warrior Diarmuid tells how meeting other children with scoliosis helped him feel less alone

Hi, I am Diarmuid.  I’m 14 years old and I live Co. Waterford.

I was diagnosed with scoliosis when I was 10 years old in 2016.  I had back pain and back spasms and went to the GP.  He suspected I have scoliosis.  I had never heard of it before so I was quite nervous.  Nine months later, I had an x-ray and was sent to Connor Green in Temple Street in March 2017. He was very nice, but I remember leaving Temple Street after my first visit and having a little cry with my Mam as I was scared and worried.  I was expecting to hear that my scoliosis was mild and that they would monitor me, but instead, I was told that I needed a brace as my curve was large enough and was likely to progress to me needing surgery in the future. I had to go to Ottobock in Cappagh Hospital to be fitted for my brace.  In total, I wore three different braces in the 2 and a half years before my surgery. I felt restricted by my brace and it was uncomfortable at first, but I knew that it would help my curve from progressing quickly, so I was determined to wear it.  I felt restricted by my brace at times as I had to wear it 23 hours each day.  I was also given special treatment at school and wasn’t treated normally. I had back pain quite regularly and if I ever wanted to exercise, I had to take off my brace. At school when I took off my brace for PE, it had to be stored somewhere safe by my teacher. I loved the summer days when I could take off my brace and swim in the Guillamene in Tramore. I felt free.

From my first appointment with Connor Green to when I was put on the list for surgery was 2 years and 6 months.  I am grateful for how quickly everything worked out and that I wasn’t waiting too long for my surgery.

I was nervous in the lead up to the surgery but I knew it had to be done and I just wanted to get it over and done with.  Connor Greene referred me to a psychologist Sally in Temple Street and she reassured me and I felt better prepared for the surgery.  Being honest, the recovery after surgery was hard.  It was very uncomfortable and at times painful.  The key thing is that it was only for the first 4-6 weeks and after that, you have your life back. I got through these difficult weeks with the support of my family and friends.

I did meet some other children who had scoliosis in the Straight2Swimming Scoliosis swimming group in the Curragh Camp.  We travelled there almost every Saturday.  I love swimming and I knew it would help build my back muscles before surgery.  It was reassuring to see others who had scoliosis.  It showed me how you can still get on with your life with this condition and it showed me that I wasn’t alone.  There were some people there who were post-surgery and it was reassuring to see their progress.

I had my surgery in November 2019 in Cappagh Hospital and it has honestly given me a new lease of life.  I can now exercise freely at any time. I no longer have back pain and have no more special treatment at school and most of all, I do not have to wear my brace anymore!

I would like to thank Connor Green and all the staff in Cappagh Hospital for changing my life for the better.  I want to let all the kids with scoliosis and their parents know that even if you have scoliosis and need a brace and/or surgery, that there are amazing people out there that can help you with your condition and improve your life for the better.

My advice is when you are having a tough day, set yourself some goal or reward.  For example, we always stopped in Avoca Café on our way back from our hospital appointments in Dublin for a treat.  My Mam also motivated me by promising that after surgery, we would head to America.  Although we didn’t get to go due to COVID-19 restrictions, we hope to get there in the near future.