Around the end of 2014, Sharon’s 7 year old daughter was diagnosed with scoliosis. Scoliosis is not a disease, but a term used to describe any abnormal, sideways curvature of the spine. Depending on the severity of the curve and the risk for it getting worse, scoliosis can be treated with observation, bracing, or surgery.
Sharon’s scoliosis was found at age 5 when her kindergarten gym teacher noticed that her gait was odd when she would run in gym class. Thus began a lifetime of x-rays, MRI’s, braces and doctor appointments. By age 7, she was wearing an orthopedic jacket (a brace that wrapped 365 degrees around her body and went from armpit to hip – no bending at the waist, no twisting) for 23 hours a day. Pain in her feet and legs was non-stop.
Around this time, her parents were given the news that the scoliosis was being caused by a birth defect known as a Chairi I Malformation (the cerebellum is positioned wrong in the skull). In her case, the Chairi was causing her spinal fluid to build up in balloon-like pockets in the spine, causing the curvature, pain, muscle weakness and reflex abnormalities. Left untreated, she would’ve been paralyzed within 3 months and passed away soon after. Surgery to treat it meant risking 99% chance of paralysis. Feeling there was really no other option, her parents scheduled the surgery. Her top 3 vertebrae were partially removed and a shunt was inserted into her spinal cord to drain the fluid into her chest cavity.
The surgery was successful. Most of the nerve damage healed and the fluid stopped building, but the curvature of her spine continued to progress. As she grew older, her neck would forever be the weakest part of her body. The shunt would shift in her ribcage and jab her in the lung. She wore the brace from age 7 to 18. It limited the amount of physical activity she could do. Riding bike was difficult, running felt impossible. Her hips and knees were very unbalanced. Contact sports like basketball and volleyball were out of the question – a direct hit to her head could be fatal. Ice skating, roller skating, skiing, horseback riding were all nixed – a fall could snap her neck. Basically the only physical activities she could do were swimming and walking.
When she no longer had to wear the brace, the damage to her weight was done and her back muscles (that were always supported by the brace) were so weak that she lived in constant pain. Physical therapy didn’t do much. The more weight she gained, the worse the pain was to her. It was getting the harder to keep up with her children, work and home.
In 2013, the pain from her chest became unbearable. She could not sleep. She could not breathe! She was convinced that the 25-year-old shunt was at the root of it. Three surgeons later, she finally found a doctor who agreed. They went in and saw the shunt was calcified, entwined in her muscles and tendons and infected. He removed the old shunt and felt confident that a new one was unnecessary.
She woke up from surgery in so little pain and able to take a deep breath for the first time in months!
Her daughter’s diagnosis brought home all that she had been through in 35 years of life. She did not want her baby to have the same story to tell.
Sharon had heard of Mind Body & Soul Fitness from a close friend. That friend had so much success that she went on to be a weight loss coach. She knew she had to reach out.
Sharon began 2015 with the challenge to lose weight and strengthen her entire body. The young girl, who couldn’t run a mile in high school, ran a 5K in April and is now training for her first 10K! She still doesn’t do things that are a threat to her neck, but she knows she can face the toughest of challenges and come out smiling! She works out with a personal trainer for 30 minutes a week to specifically focus on her core strength and back.
Learning how to eat properly was not easy. Learning how to deal with the emotions behind her eating proved to be hard. Sharon had to find other ways to cope and deal with issues. In the past, she turned to food for comfort. Now she was forced to look deeper. She knows now that food was not making anything better.
With the help of her personal weight loss coach, kick boxing and Tabata class, Sharon learned how to relieve some of the daily stress that was causing her harm. It also accelerated her weight loss which was a plus!
Sharon is down 30 pounds. She wants to lose 10 more. She loves “shopping in her own closet” now and is down to a size 8! She has never been that size. Even when she was, she needed a back brace for her scoliosis and she does not need that anymore!
She is still learning how to deal with the cravings at night and her future mother-in-law who is a terrific baker and always wants to share her latest creations.
Sometimes it is hard to ask for help. But she is doing the best that she can.
“The plan is absolutely doable,” Sharon said. There is so much love and support available that if you want to make it work, you can. There is a whole community of people there for you.
Recently, Sharon was in an unfamiliar area and got pulled over for speeding as she was not used to the roads. She was so mad! The police officer asked her for her license and registration and when she handed her license to him, he asked for a “valid form of ID.” He did not recognize her from her picture! She needed to show him something else for him to believe it was her. She got dismissed with a warning, but was so happy that she almost would not have minded paying the ticket!
If you want to lose weight the healthy way, cook your own foods, have the support of a private coach in your corner every step of the way, avoid crowded meetings and pre-packaged food…if you want to be like Sharon, then contact Mind Body & Soul Fitness today. Yes you can!