An Australian admin worker has spoken of the excruciating pain she endured before undergoing life-changing surgery to combat her severe scoliosis and lost 50kg.
To get through a standard workday, Cris, from Melbourne, would need to take two painkillers and avoid sitting or standing for long periods.
The 27-year-old was diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of 16 in 2011 and told FEMAIL she was always a ‘chubby kid’ who enjoyed dancing.
Prior to being diagnosed, doctors said losing weight was the easiest solution to rid the back pain, until her dance teacher noticed something odd about her back.
X-rays show Cris’ torso was ‘twisted and curved’ more than 50 degrees, making her appear shorter.
An Australian admin worker has spoken of the excruciating pain she endured before undergoing life-changing surgery to combat her severe scoliosis and lost 50kg
Admin worker Cris, from Melbourne, (pictured) was diagnosed with scoliosis at 16 and tipped the scales at 125kg in 2018
Cris enjoyed dancing throughout her childhood and but started suffering from back pain as a teenager and ‘didn’t know better’ to ask doctors further questions.
‘One day I went to bend over and it looked like one of my ribs was sticking out, like I had a hunchback,’ she said.
‘I never second guessed it when because I was only 16; after I was diagnosed it made sense as to why I was in that much pain.’
Once she graduated from high school and started working retail, she would need to take days off from being in so much pain as she could barely walk.
If diagnosed before the age of 11, scoliosis, curving of the vertebrae spine, can be fought by inserting a back brace – but unfortunately for Cris, it was too late to consider this option and required surgery.
But she needed to lose an excessive amount of weight before doctors could perform surgery.
In 2018 at the age of 24 Cris tipped the scales at 125kg.
X-rays show Cris’ torso was ‘twisted and curved’ more than 50 degrees, making her appear shorter (pictured)
Exercising had proven to be incredibly difficult for Cris in the past due to the pain she was experiencing.
‘I tried everything – going to the gym, going for walks, trying diets, you name it. And while I did lose some kilos, I would just put it back on again,’ she said.
‘While at the gym I was worried certain exercises and movements would place strain on my back – some days I would go home and be in complete agony.’
After a long consideration, she felt her only option was to use gastric sleeve surgery as a tool for weight loss – a medical procedure that involves making the stomach smaller.
In August 2018 the surgery was successful at helping Cris control her food portions and she managed to lose 50kg in 12 months and now weighs 75kg.
After the gastric sleeve surgery, Cris was only eating fluids for two weeks, then started eating soft foods followed by solid foods.
After undergoing gastric sleeve surgery in 2018, she was able to lose 50kg before having spinal reconstruction surgery in 2021 (pictured before and after)
The most amount of weight she had ever on her own was 10kg, so this was a huge achievement.
‘Looking back it’s the best decision I’ve ever made,’ she said.
‘I struggled at times with my own body image issues because losing weight that quickly, everything about your appearance changes,’ Cris explained.
‘It also made me realise how unhealthy my relationship with food was.’
After losing the weight she also started salsa dancing five nights a week and her pain was slowly residing.
But when the Covid-19 pandemic hit and employees were forced to work from home being hunched over computers, Cris noticed her back pain returned.
Results from a spinal exam also deemed it to be dangerous to operate as several vertebrae had fused together.
The state of parts of her spine had started to deteriorate, but surgeons believed they could straighten one part of her back.
After waiting months on end, she finally had spinal surgery in April 2021.
During the spinal surgery, physicians cut down the middle of Cris’ back, inserted to metal rods on either side and used screws to keep it all in place
Physicians cut down the middle of Cris’ back, inserted to metal rods on either side and used screws to keep it all in place.
One of the first things she wanted to know after awaking from the surgery was how much height she had gained.
‘Since my spinal was being straightened out, I knew I would grow taller. I am now 157cm!’ she said with excitement, adding 5cm to her height.
‘It’s only a small amount but it makes all the difference.’
Cris’ ‘Day on a Plate’
Breakfast – Boiled eggs
Snack – Fruit
Lunch – a salad with a type of protein
Dinner – A type of carb with protein – such as pasta and chicken
Nine months post-surgery, Cris is able to do activities with ease and without getting out of breath, like walking around the shopping centre with friends.
‘I feel incredibly lucky the surgery was successful because I knew the risk,’ she said.
After sharing her story on Instagram, ‘Health with Cris’, thousands have reached out telling their similar experiences with scoliosis.
‘It’s crazy how many people have scoliosis that you never hear about,’ she said.
Cris also hopes to get back into dancing soon.
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