Daniella Smith, 22, from Birmingham explains how her new hobby changed her life...
For as long as I remember, my back has given me gyp. Growing up, I was a keen dancer, so I put my aches and pains down to training.
At 15, my mum, Jacqueline, now 55, took me to a bra-fitting. And in the changing room…
‘I didn’t notice before,’ she said, but your spine looks wonky.’
She took me to see the GP who referred me for an X-ray.
The consultant told me I had scoliosis, an abnormal curvature and twisting of the spine.
Tests revealed that my spine was curved at a 30-degree angle. But doctors couldn’t operate to fix my scoliosis until it was at least 50 degrees.
Over the next few months, my pain worsened and some days I was crippled in agony.
‘I can’t move!’ I’d sob to Mum.
I had to give up dancing. I also dropped out of my college hairdressing course because I couldn’t stand for long periods.
Scans revealed the twist was getting worse. It caused me to hunch, and my right shoulder blade was jutting out. I just wanted to hide away.
On the rare occasions I did go out, it was to a youth centre.There I met Ashley, 23.I told him about my condition and he was a massive support. We soon became a couple.
Two years later, in May 2011, my curved spine had finally reached 50 degrees.
At Birmingham’s Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, I had a seven-hour op to correct the curve.
Doctors deflated my lungs and inserted two metal rods into my spine.
After six days in hospital, I was allowed home in a wheelchair. I was still in a lot of pain, but I was determined to get better.
Three months on, I was back on my feet.
Doctors said I needed to recover before exercising. But I thought I knew better.
‘Just one dance class,’ I told my sister Katie, 32. ‘I’ll be fine.’
But the lesson left me in agony and delayed my recovery time.
Miserable, I stopped going out and pushed my friends away…
My reality was worlds away from their carefree lives, and my self-esteem hit an all-time low.
In May 2012, I was prescribed antidepressants – I couldn’t carry on wallowing in misery.
Slowly, I began picking myself up and got a job in software. I even started dancing again and doing a bit of yoga.
In 2014, Katie and I talked about pole dancing. ‘It’s great for building and toning muscles, apparently,’ she told me. It looked like fun, so we decided to give it a go.
‘Are you sure you’ll be OK?’ Mum asked me, fretting. With metal rods in my back, she worried I’d hurt myself.
But when I spoke to the instructor, she said that I should be fine. ‘Just take it easy,’ she told me.
So I started with basic spins. Although it was hard work, I really loved it, and soon I was training every week.And, amazingly, my back didn’t play up once!
As I started to improve so did my confidence. I felt exhilarated as I spun around the pole.
‘Looking good,’ my instructor told me. I felt it, too! So much so, I was soon able to come off the antidepressants.
‘You’re certainly nailing it,’ Katie praised when I mastered a complex turn.
Before long, I was doing some upside-down spins and could even do the splits.
‘Not bad for someone with two metal rods in their back,’ I laughed. Just call me the bionic pole dancer!
Since then, my confidence has really peaked. I finally feel like the old me again. Pole dancing my way to a brighter future!