By Nia Price via SWNS
This brave teen who endured two grueling surgeries to correct her severely-curved spine donned a backless bespoke prom dress - just so she could flaunt her GIANT SCAR with 'pride.'
Lea Loscalzo, of Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, said that she first noticed her body didn't look straight when she was 13 and a curve in her spine kept increasing until it became an 's' shape.
The 16-year-old was soon diagnosed with scoliosis in August 2019 - meaning her spine had twisted and curved to the side by 50 degrees.
The dancer had posterior correction surgery last March to position two titanium rods and 18 screws around her spine, but became extremely unwell after being discharged from hospital.
It was eventually discovered that two of the screws were malpositioned and she had a second procedure five months later to move the rogue screws, and insert two more along with a new rod.
After enduring a "horrendous recovery" and being housebound for eight months Lea chose to celebrate her prom in style.
She donned a backless emerald green gown last month [JUNE 31] in order to show off her scar that runs from her neck to just above her coccyx.
Mom Louise Loscalzo, who had the "hardest time of her life" watching her daughter experience so much pain, said it was "really emotional" to see her in her prom dress embracing her "war wounds" with so much pride.
The teen says that by showing off her scar she hoped to encourage others to "show their scars with pride."
Lea said: "I wanted to show off my scar to show that it's alright if you've got something different from others and not to be ashamed of it.
"I love my backless photographs.
"I definitely feel a sense of pride when I look at them as I know what I went through, how bad it was, and how it fixed me.
"I had my prom dress made so I could show it off and because I lost so much weight due to the surgery, nothing really would fit.
"When I put the dress on I felt really good. Everyone said that they loved it.
"I'd tell others to show their scar with pride. It's a journey and you can look at it and think about what you went through to now and how far you've come."
Lea has just finished her final exams and is hoping to return to further education to eventually become a scoliosis nurse, so she can help others through what she experienced firsthand.
Lea said: "My spine was about 50 degrees curved. It was an s curve - so a big curve at the top and then a smaller one at the bottom.
"I didn't like how it looked, it just looked wonky. Before my body was bent to the side a bit.
"My shoulders and hips were really uneven, so I looked like I was leaning to one side.
"When they mentioned that I'd have a scar I didn't mind it. I'd rather have the scar than how my body was before."
After Lea's initial ten-hour operation, she spent three days on heavy medication and then started physio so she could practice standing, walking and sitting again.
She was discharged from hospital a week later and continued taking morphine along with other medication for over three weeks.
But she continuously struggled with pain that left her unable to sit for longer than 45 minutes without being in agony or do normal activities unaided like using the bathroom, washing and dressing.
Lea was prescribed various medications but her pain persisted along with heart palpations and fainting episodes.
The cause of Lea's excess prolonged pain and new symptoms was eventually discovered in September and she had her second surgery at the end of that month.
Lea said: "I kept getting really bad chest pains and hot flushes and was sick every time I ate.
"We went back again for a CT scan and it showed that two screws were pushing underneath my heart instead of in my spine, so it was causing my body to go into fight or flight mode.
"So they had to go cut me open again, take the two screws out and put new ones in.
"The recovery after surgery was horrendous. I was stuck in the house for about eight months.
"It was the worst pain I've ever had, it was a hundred out of ten.
"I regretted having the surgery for a good eight to nine months because it was so tough. I wouldn't wish it on anyone.
"My back was just stiff and I had to keep a plaster on for six weeks and could only have a shower once a week because I couldn't get it wet or anything.
"I couldn't really move on my own for the first few weeks and I couldn't walk on my own for about two months."
Lea, whose favorite subject is health and social care, shared a photo of her in the backless prom dress on Facebook, which amassed hundreds of likes and comments.
Supportive mom Louise said that prior to Lea's scoliosis diagnosis her son had two operations to remove a mole that left him with a scar across his cheek, so she did a lot of confidence building around body image with both of her children at that point.
Louise said: "It was the hardest time of my life to watch Lea in that much pain after surgery.
"At some point, we never thought that we'd get her back.
"I never thought that she'd have the confidence to do all the things that she used to be able to do - like walking again and being able to dance, she used to dance before it.
"She's got two titanium rods going from the base of her neck to her pelvis and you can see four maybe six of the screws sticking out of her back because she lost so much weight.
"Things like that were noticeable and at first she hated that, whereas now fast forward a year, she wears them with pride and is like 'oh, they're my screws.'
"I think that shift was caused by an awful lot of family support and her brother also had surgery a few years ago to remove a mole on his face.
"So then when Lea had a scar we recapped that - we'd already been through 'it's ok to be different and to have these war wounds' because she'd seen it with her brother.
"When she walked down the stairs in that dress showing her scar with pride it was really emotional.
"We're all so proud of her and what she's overcome."
SCOLIOSIS FACT BOX (from the NHS):
Scoliosis is where the spine twists and curves to the side.
It can affect people of any age, from babies to adults, but most often starts in children aged 10 to 15.
Scoliosis can improve with treatment, but it is not usually a sign of anything serious and treatment is not always needed if it's mild.
Signs of scoliosis include: a visibly curved spine, leaning to one side, uneven shoulders, one shoulder or hip sticking out, ribs sticking out on one side and clothes not fitting well
Treatment for scoliosis depends on your age, how severe the curve is, and whether it's likely to get worse with time.
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