Molly’s courageous tale of battling scoliosis offers hope to sufferers

By Barry Lord  @Bazneto

Scoliosis is a disorder that causes an abnormal curve of the spine, or backbone, and its effects have devastated the lives of many children in this Ireland.

As recently as January of this year, RTE revealed that over 250 children with scoliosis were either waiting on an operation to fix a spinal curvature or waiting to see a consultant.

One young sufferer shared her heart-breaking experiences of suffering from this deeply debilitating condition with Ireland Today News.

Molly Nolan, 14, from Bagenalstown, Co Carlow, was diagnosed with scoliosis in October 2013 and she remembered the impact her diagnosis had on the active lifestyle she enjoyed.

“It didn’t impact greatly on my life straight away,” said Molly. “I suffered from lower back pain but it was manageable. As the months passed it started to affect me. I was in a swimming club but I had to give it up as I was unable to continue to do the tumble turns and found some of the strokes painful.

“I continued to play both Camogie and basketball. I was able to manage my pain. However as time passed my scoliosis progressed. I started attending physio on a weekly basis to prevent my back from going into spasm.”

Avril and Molly together supporting each other.
Avril and Molly together supporting each other.

Molly did all she could to continue participating in the sports that she loved, but eventually the disease took its toll on her body and a decision had to be made.

“I was doing okay until January 2016,” said Molly. “I was playing a basketball match and my whole back and left side went into spasm. I attended my physio that evening, who told me that my body had finally said enough is enough. I was pretty much laid up after that, I couldn’t attend school, and was in a lot of pain, but thankfully I was given a date for my spinal fusion surgery, which was the  March 23, 2016.”

Far from giving in to self-pity, Molly has shown a resilience that belies her years and has used her energy to spread awareness of the disease and the relatively simple way it can be detected in children.

She is actively involved with the charity Straight Ahead, which seeks to take patients with orthopaedic problems off the public waiting lists. Molly still believes there is work to be done raising more awareness of what the disease entails.

“There is not enough awareness out there of Scoliosis,” said Molly, I myself had never heard of it until I was diagnosed.”

But Molly’s work has not gone unnoticed.  “I entered BT Young Scientist last year with my project in Scoliosis Awareness,” said Molly. “I went on to win an award. I also organised a Scoliosis screening in my school, which I fundraised for.

“My principal made up the balance of the cost. It only costs €3 per student to be tested, which takes less than a minute to do. Scoliosis Screening could be re-introduced by the government thus raising awareness at the same time.”

This continues to be a busy time for Molly. She is about to go into her third year in secondary school, with her Junior Cert to study for, not to mention catching up on the 4 months study she missed out on earlier in the year due to her treatment.

The future is definitely looking brighter.  “I have never looked back,” she said. “I have no pain, except if I get extremely tired, my back aches. I have started back light training for Camogie. I am back attending physio to get my body back to where it used to be. I have overcome my Scoliosis.   I am stronger than ever.”

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