One-half of the world’s population is touched by disabilities, either directly or through family, personal or working relationships. However, not all disabilities are visible or immediately apparent. Examples include autism, chronic pain, learning conditions, mental health conditions, sensory loss, and chronic conditions such as diabetes. Although we may not be able to see these invisible impairments, they can have a profound impact on people’s day-to-day life.
I am Chester-based and a member of Bank of America’s Disability Action Network, and this is my story of having a hidden disability and how the bank supported me.
I have scoliosis, which is a curvature of the spine. It’s a common condition that can occur in teenage girls, and I was diagnosed at 15-years-old after I started to experience pain between my shoulder blades, and I wasn’t standing straight.
I’m 29 now, and experience pain daily, along with other symptoms like headaches, vertigo and acne. It is possible to get an operation to try to straighten the spine, but spinal surgery can be risky, so I try to manage my condition through regular exercise and plenty of standing breaks away from my desk.
As I get older, I’m more prone to slipped discs, of which so far, I have two. If my spine continues to curve it could start to put pressure on my organs, so I need to be careful and monitor any deterioration. I also need to steer clear of activities such as bungee-jumping and trampolining!
I recently had a private health screening through the bank, and they referred me to a spinal specialist in Cheshire, who was incredibly helpful. They told me to look out for certain triggers such as pins and needles or shooting pains in my arms, which could be a sign of a trapped nerve and would require immediate medical attention. Before the screening, I had no idea that these were things I needed to look out for. We also discussed the impact that pregnancy might have on my body as well as my baby, should I ever decide to take that route.
I am currently undergoing more physiotherapy sessions, covered under my health insurance with the bank. These sessions are helping me increase the mobility of my spine and decrease the impact on my daily life. Through massage, acupuncture, and exercise, I have seen huge benefits over the past few months in my posture, minimal vertigo and reduced pain.