*P.S – I apologise for the MRI photo quality as I had to use thumbnails from the scan as the actual scan wouldn’t open in MAC.
Something I did not mention above was the reason it took the doctors over two years to diagnose me. The cause of this monstrosity is that my last growth spurt (I have no clue how old I was, from my memory I was always a skyscraper) gave me idiopathic scoliosis. Idiopathic scoliosis is where it happens quickly and with no real reason other than genetics. I later found out that my mum and her mum have Scoliosis. Although, her side of the family are dwarfed so, they never really had a problem with it. I am 5’10, and my mum is 5’2, we are opposite in body shapes, excluding the dramatic height difference. So, on a scale, of course, mine would be a lot worse than hers. I know a lot of you may think well how did you go your whole childhood not noticing anything at all? Well, all the exercise in swimming I did was a great help to me. The constant swimming not only kept me in great physical health but it kept my spine straight. Who knows if I never gave it up, maybe I would have been ok, but in hindsight, it would have just got worse and worse and the longer you leave these things, the worse the recovery is, but I will go into more detail about that later.
The next day I went to school, acting like everything was normal I don’t remember telling any of my friends because 1) I thought they would have no bloody clue what was going on and 2) I didn’t know what was going on myself. I have a sort of vague memory of what happened that day I think I must have been in some haze. The only type of remembrance I have is when I got in from school. My mum had told me that she had got a call from the doctors who had scheduled me in for an appointment at the Chiltern hospital, in some state of emergency. I think for my family and me this is when we realised it was something quite serious. Even though my mum has never told, I’m sure she spent the majority of her nights in the self-diagnosis section of the internet and crying that I was going to die, that is what always happens when you think there is something wrong with you and you don’t have much information to go by. The internet makes you feel like you have some life-threatening disease, so the moral of the story is DO NOT SELF DIAGNOSIS, but then again you could…And the outcome might not be as bad as you once thought.
Another thing I forgot to mention was when I was diagnosed with my scoliosis we had just moved into the house we are living in now. The house was a building site, we always say we moved in a few weeks too early, and that was probably enough stress for my parents without my problems. There was a massive snow storm, which some of you may remember if you are from the Buckinghamshire area. So, we had no driveway, no garden, people working in and out of the house constantly, the cold, snowy weather and me. God knows how my parents didn’t break under pressure, I think most people would.
Recalling from further up the page I say how my mum received a call from the Chiltern hospital; I asked her the details as I want this journal to be uncensored and completely honest. My mum says she remembers it early in the morning, about 9ish and she was walking the dogs. She looked at her phone and saw two missed calls, one from the doctors and one from her husband, my dad. My father called her again and told her that the Chiltern hospital is trying to get hold of her due to them wanting me having an MRI as soon as. My mum called them back, and it was booked in for the next day, in the afternoon. My mum had to tell the school at this point because I had to miss some of my lessons to get to the MRI appointment.
The same day, my mum contacted the school saying she needed to speak to the headmistress. I’m not sure how quick she got in to see her if was that day or even the next, but I know she spoke to her. She explained to the school that I was not able to rearrange the MRI scan as it was necessary to have it as soon as possible. She also explained to them the reason behind the MRI scan was a suspected scoliosis. However, this wasn’t the only reason my mum went in to speak to the school; she needed to ask for an extension for my singing. Yeah, remember that? What I was talking about very early on in the journal, well that didn’t go as planned as you can imagine. I needed an extension on my singing recording that was due to fill for my exam as I was in and out of doctors left to right and centre. In my memory, I don’t remember if I got it or not, I most likely didn’t get the extension and just had to power through.
The funny thing is, looking back at the situation at that precise time in history the only teacher was on the ball was a teacher I will name Max. He ended up calling my mum and saying sorry for what had happened to me. I have never understood why people do this? Like why? It is not your fault I’m ill, so why apologise? It just seems odd me, but it was a very thoughtful thing to do. I even remember the day after this when I walked into school, him pulling me to one side and saying if I needed anything, if I was ever feeling ill that he understood, I could never express how much that means to me even looking back at it to this day. I even remember him saying if you ever need to go home early, because you’re not ok, I will make sure you are marked absent. Someone caring was the nicest thing anyone could do at that point.
The day of the MRI, two days after my diagnosis I headed into school to continue my healthy life. Everything seemed fine the whole day, none of my friends asked if everything was ok as they just thought I had a severe chest infection. I don’t know why I didn’t tell my close friends, I have never liked worrying people with my problems, because they are that, my problems. Apart from Max and another teacher, whom I’ll name Elizabeth, none of the other teachers said anything, which I thought was odd as even if they didn’t care I would still say something. So, now I am sitting in my last class of the day, watching the clock tick as I’m counting down the seconds till I have to leave for my first ever MRI scan. My teacher knew about my scan, one because I had to quit his lesson and two my she was informed by my head. I remember not paying attention to class; I remember just wanting to leave and get the ordeal over with. In this small class of 5 people I raise my hand to interrupt the silence I say “can I go?” and this is the start of the school’s avalanche. She replies with “yes, good luck at the hospital.” All my friends kind of looked at me oddly, confused, as to their knowledge they just thought I was going to the doctors. I left the class and walked out (more like a run) to the front of the building where my mum was waiting for me.
We arrived at the Chiltern hospital, and we walked down a long corridor and waited in a little waiting room by the MRI scanning room. I remember looking at leaflet and getting excited at what songs I could have paid while I was laying on my back for an hour. I can’t remember what I chose to listen to, but I remember thinking “oh would it be alright, I can jam out to music, it will be fine!” The woman who was doing my MRI came out and greeted me. My mum waited outside while the woman escorted me into a science fiction land of dark and creepy equipment. She explained to me how they would be doing two MRI scans one concentrating on the lower back and the other on the whole back. They then asked me what I would want to listen to, I told her my decision, and she laughed, I remember asking her could I fall asleep in here? She replied, “some people do, but it can be noisy.” The women then made me take my shoes and socks off and told me to lie down in the bed. She placed some soft brick under my knees to add pressure to my back. She asked me to hold this squishy egg sort of device and to squeeze if I panicked at all, as this was an emergency stop for the MRI. She put the headphones on me and strapped me in; then I went into the machine. My first thought was, oh my god this thing is so loud, what even is the point of the music? I can’t hear anything apart from a loud mechanical banging. I have never been fussed by loud noises as apparently when I was younger I fell asleep at the River Dance which everyone thought was pretty impressive. I remember just listening to the rhythmical banging and slowing drifting off and being super relaxed when I suddenly hear this voice in my ear “Charlotte, you ok? Not long now” I remember it scaring the living daylights out of me, and waking me up with a shock and just laughing. Then the women saying “Charlotte, don’t move you need to be still” it is like telling a child they can’t do something, it just makes them do it more.
All of a sudden the machine starts pushing the bed underneath me out, a rush of people surrounded me and they took off the headphones, undid the straps and I remembered being stunned by the light. I guess that’s what it must be like to be woken from the dead. One of the nurses took the soft but firm block from underneath my knees and told me to stand up while they re-arrange the machine. I stood up and remember being fragile at the knees and almost passing out by only my legs passing out, and they rushed me up and asked if I was ok. I was all right, just a little bit confused, a little bit like Bambi on ice, I’m sure if I saw a video of it now I would laugh way too much. The nurses now lie me back down, and I go back into the machine for the next scan. I remember this one be over quickly, and being rolled out the machine and while I am getting my socks and shoes back on the women turns me and says “wow, that is awful scoliosis you have” I felt so confused, and thought can she say that? Is it so terrible? In a way, I think that’s when I had my first little worry.
– Charlotte x