Long term health conditions

Elizabeth - Interview 01

Age at interview: 22
Age at diagnosis: 16

Brief outline: Elizabeth was diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of 16. She now works for a Department of Health funded project. She says that as a teenager she 'rebelled' against her condition and stopped taking her painkillers. Her attitude now is to work with her condition rather than against it. She takes regular exercise and does a lot of walking.

Background: Elizabeth lives at home with her family - mum, dad and younger sister plus two cats. Ethnic background/nationality' White British. At university she applied for Disabled Student Allowance and says it's the best thing you could do.

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Elizabeth lives at home with her family- mum, dad and younger sister plus two cats. She was diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of 16 and was told that many people have this condition so she thought nothing of it. Her consultant sent her for a course of physiotherapy and for the next two years she was fine with it. At the age of 18 she began to experience gripping pain in the top of her shoulder blades. She was sent for more physiotherapy and later discharged but she was still in great pain. Her condition was aggravated when she fell and slipped a disc in her back. She began to experience intense pain in her right leg. She was out off work for a month while recuperating. 

The combination of scoliosis and a slipped disc made the everyday managing of her condition(s) difficult. She started to see a private physiotherapist who taught her how to control things for herself. Nowadays her physiotherapist gives her options and encourages her to make her own decisions.

For the past three years she has had regular check-ups and X-rays. Very recently she found out that she needs to have a spinal fusion. This surgery entails an incision in her back and small metal rods will be placed in her spine to try and straighten it out. There is a need for surgery because the curve in her spine is still increasing.

In the past she has experienced problems in her work place from colleagues and bosses who do not understand her condition and her need to take regular 'standing-up' breaks. She has found that local government and the NHS are the best employers.

Regarding friends and boyfriends - her attitude is to be honest and tell them about her condition. She thinks that it is very important to make those around her understand that sometimes pain flares up, meaning she has had to cancel arrangements at the last minute. When she was a teenager she found it difficult to talk about her condition with her peers at school.

She now feels more in control because she knows how to manage her condition. Plus her attitude has changed and she says that she works with her scoliosis rather than against it.

She works for the NHS as part of the Expert Patient Programme and in her post has had a chance to learn more about her own condition. 

She sees her parents as very caring but not overprotective because they leave her to get on with her life and make her own decisions and sometimes mistakes.


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