My Scoliosis Story – From a Pillow Inventor

One of the interesting facts behind the creation of the enVy, Anti-Aging/Wellness Pillow is that one half of the enVy pillow nurses, Kim Renton, had a successful career with Allergan Canada as a Botox Medical Consultant… performing therapeutic as well as cosmetic Botox injections. From there she went on to start her own Training Company teaching physicians across North America on the Art and Science of Botox™ and Facial Fillers. This is where she saw the sleep wrinkles causes by the habitual side and stomach sleeping in her clients as they “squished” their faces into their pillows every night.

There is the other half of our story…

Not Just Anti-Aging, Ergonomic too!

When Kim first approached me about working together to create an anti-wrinkle pillow that would allow the side sleepers among us to sleep on their sides but OFF their faces (to avoid these sleep wrinkles )….I made only ONE request. This pillow HAD be the best ergonomic therapeutic pillow ever!

And this is why CURVES ARE NOT ALWAYS A GOOD THING…

Scoliosis imaging

Scoliosis: (noun), the Lateral (sideways) curving of the spine. Of every 1,000 children, 3 to 5 develop spinal curvature that is considered severe enough to need treatment. Girls are more likely than boys to have idiopathic scoliosis.

It was just before my 15th birthday when there was an unusual comment (from a boy, of course) about my “crooked back” while at a pool party. Naturally, I dismissed it. Keep in mind this was long before the school screenings for Scoliosis. And LONG before such amazing technology like the smart phone app Scoliometer. .. please check this app out parents!

Shortly after I was shopping with my mom. While trying on some clothes in a dressing room she decided there was something wrong with the striped T-shirt I was trying on. While she tried to straighten it out she soon became aware it wasn’t the “cut” of the shirt… it was me.

The Scoliosis Treatment Options for me (in those days)

It wasn’t long before I was seeing the wonderful surgeon, Dr. Bobechko, at Sick Kids in Toronto and the diagnosis was made. (Interesting side fact: I was a RN at Sick Kids for many years). Over the next few months the curvature progressed quickly and I was certainly feeling the painful effects. A simple stroll around a mall lead to a discomfort along my ribcage that would have me needing to sit down immediately to relieve the muscle strain… often times I would have to crouch over to find relief. (This still happens today unfortunately). I believe the growth spurt had my muscles and spine dealing with twists and turns it wasn’t suppose to be dealing with. Surgery was booked 4 ½ months after that day in the dressing room when my mother noticed I didn’t look so good in stripes. The curvature was 45 degrees with an added rotation as is often the case. Scoliosis spinal surgery, in those dark ages (1976) involved a month long stay in hospital on a special bed called a Stryker frame.

 

Stryker Frame used after scoliosis repair
Stryker Frame used after scoliosis repair

The surgery was long and came with Harrington rods which are made from stainless steel and I have recently decided, when I step on the scales, must weight at least 10 pounds on their own : ). After being on that frame for a solid month I became a confirmed back sleeper, as there were only two options… back and front as they flipped me regularly. I did gain 2 inches on the operating table which was a pleasant upside.

The Short and Long Term Effects of Scoliosis

I could go on about the immediate after effects of the surgery which include body cast for 6 months, lots of unsightly scars, and the limitations of having a fused thoracic spine .. and the teenage angst. Thankfully teenagers bounce back… physically and emotionally.

But the long term effects are certainly not to be ignored. It should be noted that no scoliosis surgery is a true fix. I still have a curve and rotation. I continue to struggle with chronic pain, inflexibility, a military neck, pins and needles, imbalances and limitations. Something as simple as putting on my socks can be a struggle. Socks suck!

Harrington Rods after Scoliosis Repair
Harrington Rods after Scoliosis Repair

Pregnancy and delivery babies was a whole different experience… and an epidural was off the table from the start.

I have found that after 40 years of having to deal with scoliosis there is a lot to be said about finding the right health support specialists, staying safely active, building those erector back muscles that are not engaged due to the rods and are often in chronic spasm, keeping your spinal alignment and posture supported while sitting and standing AND an ergonomic pillow that supports your spine and neck properly while you sleep. The creation of the enVy Pillow had all my heart and soul in it! My quest for the perfect pillow ended with me and my fellow nurse creating it!

Since introducing our pillow to the market I have been so fortunate to have met, connected and/or chatted with many fellow scoliosis warriors who have and continue to have to deal with far more than I have. I am truly in awe of their positive attitudes. Scoliosis ain’t no place for sissies!

Most thrilling for me is that I have heard from many of them that tell me the enVy pillow has been a game changer for their sleep comfort that effects the rest of their days.

Creating a Natural C-Spine Curve from a Military Neck

And here is an update on my personal progress. I am happy to report a slow but steady improvement in the natural curve of my neck after sleeping nightly, in proper alignment, with the enVy pillow.

 

10 Year Challenge of Military neck
10 Year Challenge of Military neck

We got your back : )

We would love to hear your scoliosis story.

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