What is Scoliosis?
abnormal lateral curvature of the spine
My mom watched me while I was playing with my dogs on the floor of our living room. She had noticed, my back had an unnatural curve to it when I bent over. She told me to come to her, and I knew something wasn’t right. My mom was unusually quiet. After letting me get back to playing, my mom went to do some research and schedule a doctor’s appointment to have some x-rays done.
My first appointment was scary. I knew it was for my back, but I didn’t know what it was for. My still child-like mind wasn’t grasping the severity of my situation.
Until I saw the x-rays.
When I saw it I knew it wasn’t right. My spine looked like a “S” and not a straight line. The doctor explained, as simply as he could, so I could understand what was wrong with me.
I was diagnosed with a 48 degree curvature. Which wasn’t good (according to my doctor.) He had mentioned that that is the degree for recommended surgery. However, because I was about to turn 13, my bones hadn’t hardened. So he wrote a prescription/recommendation to an Orthopedic to have a back brace molded.
When I finally got my back brace. I was miserable.
I had to keep it on 23/7. Only allowed to take it off for literally 1 hour for a shower. Which was difficult, due to me being an active volunteer for the local riding stable and co-owning a horse. After talking with the doctor, he had mentioned that unless I am riding horses (posture makes perfect exercise) or taking a shower, I had to keep my back brace on.
I had several appointments for the next few years. One x-ray while in the brace and one x-ray while out of the brace. To check my “progress.”
Being diagnosed with scoliosis was stressful as well as miserable. Not only could I not stay cool (had to sit in front of a fan on hot days), I couldn’t hold longer notes while singing. And the one thing every scoliosis patient experiences: insecurity.
The first time I felt insecure was when I first got my back brace. My mom took my brothers and I to a family friend’s house. (For safety I will call this friend Sally) Mom wanted to show Sally what my back looked like. What my brace looked like. She also showed her the “her shoulders don’t line up with her hips.”
I felt so wrong.
Everyday I looked in that mirror and wished that I had the guts to “go under the knife” to have a perfectly straight back. To not feel so insecure about how I look. To not stress about the pain that I wasn’t feeling yet.
But that was not the case. Perfect example.
When I was 15ish, I co-owned a Thoroughbred, named Strider. One day I was riding Strider and our communication wasn’t in sync. In the end he was so frustrated, he threw me off. Like any other Equestrian, I was stunned. Laid there for a minute to catch my breath. Only I didn’t know my dad saw my spill. So he ran to me and helped me to my feet. I could see it on his face.
If I had that surgery done, there was a high chance those rods could’ve snapped. Liked the doctor warned.
When I turned 16 I had one more appointment. I had the best news I heard in 3 years since my diagnosis.
My bones had completely hardened and my curvature dropped to a 24 degree curve. Which meant….. no more back brace!!!!!!
However, even though I was excided for my newfound freedom, it took me a long time to get over my insecurity of my back. It hit me every day. I wore over sized shirts, because tighter shirts showed the straps for my brace. I also wore over sized shirts because if you looked at me in the right angle, you can clearly see my disfigurement.
I had personal told 2 of my friends and my choir instructor during the time I was in the brace. When I told my husband it was like I didn’t care, like it was just a part of me now. Because I had learn to be comfortable in my own skin.
There are some things that I regret. I regret tossing my back brace in the dump. Now that I am 24, I see that sometimes I could still use that brace. I’m not as active with horses anymore, so now my back hurts all the time. If I overwork myself or sit in a chair wrong, my back is in so much pain, nothing works to stop it.
I still to this day do not wish to have surgery. Sometimes it crosses my mind. But I know that one day I will be getting back into my riding days. I just have to hold on until I do.
So in the end I am saying this.
Don’t judge yourself. Look past your “flaws.” It took me a very long time to learn this, and I am still learning.
Don’t let something hold you down. I did my passions while in a back brace. (Singing and Horse riding.) You can too.