A determined Highland dancer who braved a major spine operation is back to winning ways – less than a year after her life-changing surgery.
Isla Robertson, 16, was devastated when she was told she might never dance again after she developed a curve in her back from Scheuermann’s Kyphosis.
But the schoolgirl is back competing just 12 months after an intensive seven-hour operation to straighten her back – which left her with 15 bolts in her spine.
The tenacious teenager is now going to five Highland and tap dancing classes a week and said she is ‘grateful’ to be back in her kilt.
Brave Isla said: “There was never any guarantee I would get back to that stage so to get back there I’m so grateful – it’s really amazing.
“It’s completely different, even after surgery it was a different type of pain.
“It was like a healing pain and it went away – I’m feeling a lot better now.
“I wasn’t doing anything, it was rubbish, but everything started happening again and I’m able to live as a teenager again.”
Isla, from Greenock, Inverclyde, has been dancing since she was six-years-old.
But her spine condition, which she was diagnosed with in 2017, left her in agonising pain and she was unable to even sit up straight in bed.
The illness causes the front sections of the spine to grow more slowly than the back sections during childhood and left her with deformed vertebrae and a curved spine.
It’s believed that the condition can develop during a growth spurt between the ages of 10 and 16.
Facing the prospect of never doing what she loved again, Isla made the bold decision to undergo the back op on November 8 last year at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh
Surgeons inserted two titanium rods and 15 bolts into her back to help straighten it.
She recently competed in the Renfrewshire Annual Competition in Gourock, Inverclyde on November 3 – winning two second places, two thirds, a fourth and a sixth place.
Reflecting on her six-strong medal haul, she added: “It was so good, I didn’t expect to place at all and I placed in every dance I was in.
“I just wanted to dance and didn’t care if I placed or not.
“The feeling of being back out there was amazing.”
Isla was cheered on by her family, including her mum Alison, 44, father Brian, 45, brother Euan, 14, and her gran Bridie, 85.
Proud Alison said: “She started going back to dancing a good few months ago and has been building herself up.
“A fortnight ago she did her first competition back.
“That’s a year since her operation, she’s done really well.”
Alison praised her “focused” daughter’s hard work in regaining her fitness and getting back to doing her beloved Highland dancing.
She said: “She’s really pleased she’s done it so quickly but she’s been so focused throughout.
“That was her main goal to get back dancing.
“I’m not so much surprised but delighted.
“We saw her surgeon yesterday [Tue] and he took her x-rays and he’s really happy.”
Isla is set to compete in her second competition since her surgery on Saturday (November 23) in Beith, North Ayrshire.
Alison said it’s “massive” seeing her daughter back fit and healthy and able to “live her life again”.
She said: “It’s massive, it’s letting her live her life again, getting back to all the things she’s passionate about.
“Even just going out and about with her friends, it’s been huge.
“It was her decision. Even with the surgery, there was no guarantee that she’d be pain-free or she’d be able to dance again.
“But it was worth the risk and it’s paid off.”