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Venus O: I am Titanium

I show off my scar whenever I want, I educate people all the time, and I am never going to stop telling my story because it will and has helped so many boys and girls who have scoliosis, those who don’t know they have scoliosis, and people who are too scared to realise they do.

Beyond A Curved Spine

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My name is Venus Omorode and I am eighteen years old. When I am travelling the world and eating at different restaurants you can call me Veecation. But at all times I’m a Scoliosis Warrior. I was diagnosed with scoliosis in August 2011, and ever since then, my life has changed in many ways.

I was on summer vacation in Atlanta and I had gone shopping with my brothers. It was a fun day. We arrived home excited to show our mum what we had bought. When wearing a top and posing for my mum, I looked at my shoulders, and believe it or not, they were not levelled. My right shoulder was higher than my left. For about ten minutes I thought it was the way I was standing, or the way I wore the top, or maybe the way my hair was packed, or perhaps it was the mirror. I called my mum and she had a look. She tried levelling the shoulders but we couldn’t do anything. I shrugged it off and went to bed. Little did I know my mum had brought out her iPad the second I left and was researching away.

My mum searched for the nearest spine specialist and booked an appointment, and I was assessed two days later, and diagnosed with a Cobb angle of about 75 degrees. I mean, my reaction was just mixed. I was heartbroken and scared; I kept repeating the same word all the time: “How?” It was my first time even hearing the word “scoliosis,” talk-less of being diagnosed with it at the age of twelve. But in the car back home, I was just thinking, “What do I do next?” I was interested in knowing more about scoliosis, in helping myself. My family was extremely supportive. I have always thanked God for giving me supportive family members, especially my mum, She is my rock, with an extreme calmness that makes everyone else calm. P.S: That’s my mum and I in the photo!

I went through a long journey of treatments. A lot of flying in and out of Nigeria, missing school, leaving my brothers and friends behind, and a lot of good and bad news.

Episode 1
First step was my Spinecore Brace, in Atlanta, Georgia. I wore this brace for 22 hours. At first it was the most uncomfortable thing ever, but eventually it was like wearing a t-shirt underneath my clothes. But unfortunately, the brace did absolutely nothing but allow the curve to progress to 98 degrees. This was when we discovered the Clear Institute, an organisation that promotes non-surgical treatments for scoliosis, using breathing techniques & exercises with different equipment and apparatus.

Episode 2
This led to journey number two. My mum made contact with Dr Strauss in New York, and I was enrolled for two weeks Scoliosis Bootcamp (yet again, I was missing school). It was an eye-opening adventure to the world of scoliosis and the non-surgical treatments available. I attended two Scoliosis Bootcamps consecutively during holidays. I missed out on hanging out with friends and family, but I kept pushing. I also saw a Lago- based chiropractor during holidays, for adjustments and stretches and a masseuse for massages.

The bootcamp was intense – two sessions a day six days a week. We only had Mondays off. I was strapped on so many types of equipment like the Ekard table, scoliosis chair, the gun, and so many more. It was gruesome, but the hard work paid off. My curve reduced to 79.6 at the end of the bootcamp. I went back to school for some time and took all my equipment for therapy. It was so fun doing therapy at school, because I had a little room in my boarding house where I could exercise, and my friends would come to keep me company, or they’d try some exercises with me. Plus it was also a place where we hid our contraband. These were the fun moments during the scoliosis journey.

Episode 3
Throughout this journey, I tried to avoid every conversation on the topic “surgery.” But that happened to be the title of the last chapter of this journey. On the 28th of June, 2014, I had a spinal fusion surgery – two titanium rods fused in my back with about thirty hooks and screws. I was in surgery for about nine and a half hours! And I have to say, it was the best sleep ever! I woke up feeling so refreshed. Once again, the surgeon came out to confirm my body really disguised scoliosis too well.

I was in the ICU for a few hours, and the next day I had to learn to walk, sit, stand, climb, and so many actions we take for granted, all over again. But I couldn’t do it so quickly. It was crazy having to learn all these things we easily do all over again, and it was unbelievable pain. I was discharged in five days, three days ahead of discharge. My room was the talk of the hospital; they had never seen a room with so many flowers, packages and cards. I hung every one of the cards and posters my friends and family made me on the wall, and many times people strolled in during their coffee breaks just to see the wall. 🙂

Fast-forward
It’s five years post-op this June and its also Scoliosis Awareness Month! I am the happiest person, to be part of a scoliosis community. I am living my best life! Currently studying in Switzerland, I have started my own tourism and hospitality blog on Instagram (@veecation) where I do what I love – travelling the world, educating people about hospitality and eating. I’m also proud to be part of the BeyondaCurvedSpine community, where we spread scoliosis awareness in Nigeria. My favourite thing about travelling and having scoliosis is when I beep through security. I am always prepared to explain myself, and it’s hilarious how they think it’s something serious, and later on, the officers and I leave laughing. I have never been ashamed of my scoliosis. I show off my scar whenever I want, I educate people all the time, and I am never going to stop telling my story because it will and has helped so many boys and girls who have scoliosis, those who don’t know they have scoliosis, and people who are too scared to realise they do.

Throughout this journey, I’ve never been more grateful for my friends and family who have always had my back, literally, and my beautiful mum who went everywhere with me and has been by my side from the very beginning. She’s a Scoli-Mum and an amazing one at that.

Scoliosis is getting very rampant now, and I’m glad more awareness is being done. Sadly, most times it’s diagnosed late. Early detection is key for early correction.

It’s Scoliosis Awareness Month, have someone’s back and be green.

Thank you for letting me share my journey with you.

It’s Scoliosis Awareness Month and the scoliosis warriors at Beyond A Curved Spine are sharing their #Scoliwarrior stories! Beyond A Curved Spine is a non-profit initiative on a mission to raise scoliosis awareness and provide support for scoliosis warriors in Nigeria. Find them on Instagram @beyondacurvedspine or via www.beyondacurvedspine.org.

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