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Karolina Krol
Poland/ Wales, United Kingdom

Karolina is the author of ThisAbility project. The inspiration came from her own experience with scoliosis and the thought that reading other people stories is not only helpful and filled with tips but also very comforting. It felt like there is someone out there going through similar problems. That's how the idea of ThisAbility was created, feeling the need of creating a community sharing people's stories on their disabilities and ideas on how to make our world better, more inclusive and accessible place.

My scoliosis is considered as idiopathic, what means that there is no definite cause. After taking my first ever spine X-ray as 14-year-old I remember I was named as “being on the border”. In Poland there was a recommendation to do surgeries on curves over 40 degrees and mine were by then just a little bit less than that. That’s why it was decided to start immediately do what was possible to prevent scoliosis from worsening and even maybe correcting it. 

 

 

My scoliosis is considered as idiopathic, what means that there is no definite cause. After taking my first ever spine X-ray as 14-year-old I remember I was named as “being on the border”. In Poland there was a recommendation to do surgeries on curves over 40 degrees and mine were by then just a little bit less than that. That’s why it was decided to start immediately do what was possible to prevent scoliosis from worsening and even maybe correcting it. 

 

I got a prescription for making my very own spinal brace. I had to wear it for 23 hours a day. I went through four different braces as I was growing up. I remember this time as one of the hardest in my whole scoliosis journey, especially when you are teenager. I have also spent a lot of time on rehabilitations camps every six months and stayed there from six to eight weeks. It was a combination of many exercises, lessons and scoliosis checkups but that place also happened to become my second home until I finished 18 years old. It’s also the place where I met amazing people who became extremely important to me. We were comforting each other, sharing experiences and staying positive. It’s also where my experience for ThisAbility project came from. I knew how powerful it can be, knowing that you are not alone.

our backs 
tell stories, 
no books have 
the spine to 
carry 
 
Rupi Kaur 

When I was diagnosed with scoliosis I was 14 years old. After achieving full bone maturity that should prevent scoliosis from getting worse, my spine had different plans and kept bending.  

A few years ago I found the opportunity to help my spine – Anterior Scoliosis Correction known as ASC which is the alternative to fusion surgery and preserves flexibility and motion. I wanted to maintain mobility of my spine, and still be able to pursue my passions. When I heard about this new possibility, I couldn’t stop researching everything about the new scoliosis treatment method. I couldn’t believe that there is a chance for me to have surgery, get rid of my pain and still be able to move as there wasn’t any operation at all! 

I started reaching out to doctors who perform ASC. After many exchanged emails, phone calls and medical documentation, amazing surgeon, Dr. Azmi Hamzaoglu from Orthopedics and Traumatology Clinics in Istanbul, Turkey qualified me for surgical treatment. Do you know this feeling when you are starting to truly believe that your dream is possible? That was this moment for me. 

 

However, the treatment with Dr. Azmi is more affordable than the ASC with pioneers of this technique in USA, the cost is still much over what me and my parents can afford.  This surgery is also not performed in my country and cannot be covered by any insurance in my case. I lived with that thought for some time,  what I could do in that situation. Fundraising crossed my mind several times, however I didn’t feel right with that, especially that it wouldn’t be a life saving surgery, even though it would help and make my life so much better and comfortable, perhaps even pain free. However with the support of my friends and family, reassurance that it’s truly something fighting for, I set up a fundraiser.

Throughout my journey I was many times intimidated, especially during my school years. There were many hard times but I also think that helped me to become who I am today. Because of this journey I met many amazing people and made beautiful memories. What I can say to all of you out there struggling with any issues? Be yourself, don’t waste your energy for people who are not worth it and remember what do you want to achieve. There are going to be worse moments but you will get up every time stronger. Believe in yourself, don’t forget to smile along the way and do what you love!