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  • Writer's pictureClaire Harrison

Scoliosis, Back Surgery, Mastectomy and Healing with the GYROTONIC® Method

Judi Heile didn't know she had scoliosis until the last of her four pregnancies. In an interview for Judi explains that although her skirts had always been crooked and one of her legs was longer than other she'd been led to believe that she had Bursitis, which was why her pregnancies had been so painful in her back. Once scoliosis had been diagnosed, Judi went through years of seeing physicians and physical therapists. She was given medications and underwent 'rolfing' a method of deep tissue manipulation and movement education that aims to balance the body, but nothing helped. It was extremely frustrating. There was no mention of surgery at that time, it was all about medication and physical therapy.

In 2000, Judi was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to have a full mastectomy of the left breast. The operation left her with lots of scar tissue and because the surgeon had cut through the trunk nerve under Judi's arm, she had very little movement on her left side and had difficulty lifting her arm. Once Judi was in remission, she went back to her oncologist and broke down. Her back was so painful she was at the end of her tether and just couldn't cope. Judi's oncologist recommended a new physician who suggested surgery which Judi decided was her only option. At that time Judi was 59. In the interview for Judi explains what she went through.

The first part of the surgery involved removing all of the discs from the very bottom lumbar area all the way up to T9, and removing the 10th rib. After that, I was in intensive care for about seven days before I was well enough from that surgery to turn me over and put me back together. That involved the rods and all of what I call, ‘the nuts, bolts, and screws.’

After months of water and physical therapy, Judi was back on her feet and two inches taller! However she still had a problem with her right hip. She was doing Pilates, massage therapy, and even getting Cortisone injections as frequently as allowed, but nothing was really helping. It was at that time her Pilates instructor suggested Judi try the GYROTONIC® Method.

Judi working with GYROTONIC® Master Trainer, Julie Toren. Photos by Cina Canada.
For me, the Gyrotonic Method was about working with my joints. It was absolutely amazing that within only 7 or 8 months of starting this work, I no longer needed Cortisone shots. My hip never hurts me, now. I still have some back issues in terms of a heaviness, or feeling of pressure in the upper part of my back where the natural vertebrae stops because basically that’s what’s holding my head up, but it has been remarkable what this work has done for me.

Judi is now 68 and has recovered from another bout of cancer after which she had to have her right breast removed. After going through breast reconstruction, she returned to Gyrotonic exercise as quickly as possible.

I feel really good about my body condition. I think it’s incredibly important to keep my weekly appointment with my Gyrotonic trainer. I was someone being told I would end up in a wheelchair, and now here I am. It’s so worth it. I enjoy it, I intend to keep doing it, and I’ll probably end up the oldest Gyrotonic student here, someday!

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