As you all know by know, one of the main reasons I set up this website was to create a place where fellow #scoliosers could come and share their stories, inspire others, and to remind us that we are not alone in what we are going through. The stories I have been sent and have shared with you thus far have all fulfilled the criteria above. However, the story I am about to share with you is possibly the most emotional and heart wrenching story I have been told on my scolio journey of discover.
During the week just passed I was contacted via the website by Gary Bannister (twitter handle @hamlett44), father of quite possibly the bravest boy I have ever heard of.
When Gary’s son, Reece, was just 6 months old he was diagnosed with scoliosis and his parents were advised that he may need surgery to correct his spinal curvature. This was obviously a devastating blow for Gary and his wife, but it was also just the start of things to come. As warned, Reece did indeed surgery to correct his scoliosis, however, he didn’t need just one or two surgeries as is often the case, instead Reece had to endure TEN operations to straighten his spine. On top of that he had to wear a special ‘halo’ suit for a year when aged nine to stop his head and neck from moving.
However, the most emotional and quite frankly scary part of Reece’s story occurred in between his second and third operations when the metal rods in his back came loose and caused a hole to appear, through which it was possible to see the metal work that was supposed to be holding his spine in place. That, for me, does not bare thinking about, The pain and discomfort that Reece must have felt is something I can’t even begin to imagine. Neither can I imagine how awful and helpless his parents must have felt, watching their son in pain and knowing there was little they could do to prevent it.
Fortunately, eight operations later, Reece is now in a much healthier position and is winning his battle with scoliosis. Like the rest of us he still has problems and issues with his back but is determined not to let them get in the way of leading the life he wants to live. In 2007, he won a bravery award at the WellChild Children’s Health Awards, and in a 2011 newspaper interview, spoke of his dream of working with animals after he leaves school.
The story I have just shared with you is an abridged version of what Reece and his family have gone through. In 2007 Reece’s dad Gary wrote a book title ‘Every Road Has A Bend: The True Story About A Child’s Bravery’, detailing the full extent of Reece’s scoliosis battle and how it affected his family. He wrote the book not for personal gain but to raise awareness of scoliosis and to be used as a resource for other families in a similar position to his own. To prove this point, the book was self-published at a cost of several hundred pounds to Gary and his family, such is his belief that Reece’s story is worth telling.
Since publishing the book Gary has tried unsuccessfully to get high street retailers to stock it, however it is available on Amazon should anyone be interested in reading more. I have fortunate to receive a copy from Gary and am looking forward to reading it; more than likely with a tear in my eye.
I’ll sign this post off with a video of Reece’s story. It’s a bit emotional, but worth it after reading my attempts to tell his story.