20 February 2023

Scoliosis patient to run half marathon

Peter Rolf, a Graphic Designer from Wimborne, is running the ABP Southampton Half Marathon this April in support of Southampton Hospitals Charity, and the spinal unit for treating his scoliosis as a child.

“When I was 12 years old, I was out walking with my mum, and she noticed that my right shoulder blade was sticking out at an awkward angle.

In August 2010, she made an appointment for me to see my local GP who referred us to the orthopaedic team at Poole Hospital. After X-rays, we were referred onto the specialist spinal unit in Southampton Children’s Hospital.

Peter Rolf - Scoliosis patient

Initially, I did not notice any pain, however as my curve started to progress, I began to feel pain just below my right shoulder blade.

This got progressively worse over time. It restricted even basic physical and daily tasks, and I was unable to do any high-impact activities which could cause significant strain on my back.

I had two years of monitoring with the spinal nurse specialists in Children’s Outpatients, along with regular X-rays.

I was given a back brace to wear for a year. The curve in my back progressed so much that the brace wasn’t holding it. At this point, my surgeon listed me for surgery.

Peter - Scoliosis patient before operation

In the weeks leading up to the surgery, I made hospital visits for pre-op tests, including blood tests and a visit to neurophysics where they recorded my nerve responses as this would be monitored throughout my operation.

I was admitted to Southampton Children’s Hospital on 9 January 2013, with my operation taking place the next day.

The first part of the operation involved making an incision just below my right shoulder blade where part of my rib was removed for the surgeon to access the most severe part of the curve.

That made it easier to straighten the rest of my spine and allowed a second incision to be made along the length of my spine. A set of titanium rods were inserted, and fourteen pairs of screws! The piece of rib they removed was then used to fuse my spine.

I spent the first night in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit before being moved to Ward G3 which specialises in orthopaedics.”

This focuses on injuries and diseases of the body’s musculoskeletal system.

Peter continues “On the second day post-operation, the physiotherapists came to stand me up and I began to move around the bed space.

Peter - Scoliosis patient after operation

They measured me, and we found I had grown a few centimetres! I stayed in hospital for a week before going back home.

The many staff who helped me throughout my journey were amazing. My surgery was life changing and I am grateful for everything they did for me.

Running ABP Southampton Half Marathon

I started running in 2019 while I was doing my degree at Solent University. Initially this was just doing small distances, sticking to 5k routes, and attending local park runs to slowly build up my running and stamina.

Running became a vital lifeline for me during the COVID-19 pandemic when social gatherings were off-limits, and you were only allowed to exercise outside once a day.

It was during this time I could see myself completing a half marathon, and it’s been on my mind ever since.

I decided that 2023 was the year, so I signed up to support Southampton Hospitals Charity, and the incredible spinal unit who treated my scoliosis. While I have completed a 10-mile route before, this will be my first ever half marathon!

Training is going well. At the moment I am running 3-6 miles three days a week, and then completing a longer run at the weekend. With these, I am slowly increasing my distance by one mile every week to slowly build up to 13 miles.

I am looking forward to the race, and my second ever competitive run!”

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