This month is Scoliosis Awareness Month. I have lived with scoliosis all my life. When I was in medical school, doctors recommended having surgery. They said it would require a year out of my life to recover. I couldn’t imagine putting my life on hold, so I waited 40 years. In those 40 years, I lived with chronic pain from scoliosis every single day. When the pain became unbearable, I knew it was time to consider surgery again. In May 2019, I underwent 17 hours of back surgery. Now it’s two years later and my back is healing wonderfully. Enduring and understanding pain has made me a better doctor, a better mother, and a better person. There is wisdom within pain. Pain leads one inside themselves. I mean it when I say to patients, "I understand your pain. I see your difficulties. I feel your agonies. I acknowledge your sorrows." At some point in our lives, we will all go through some type of pain. Here are a few tips to keep the body as strong as possible so that we can overcome it. 1) Recognize you have the power to move yourself out of pain. 2) Keep the body nimble and moving. Walk, sprint, jump, swim, squat, carry, climb, dance, flow, fight, play, and move every day. 3) Try grounding (touching the Earth), practicing gratitude, prayer, removing yourself from toxic environments, getting daily sunlight, and reducing blue light exposure. 4) Pain has a mental component. Perpetual anxiety is a warning from your body. Try meditation, deep breathing, or talking to a counselor about overcoming mental malice. We will all meet someone who is in pain, whether it's cancer, a breakup, or any other kind of ailment. To them, I reach out my hand and offer a gentle smile, acknowledge their pain is real, and their sadness is understood. We are all in this together.
Your Partner in Health, Dr. Leigh Erin Connealy