A week before my 17th birthday, I was laying face down on an operating table having my spine aligned. There is a lot that happened leading up to that moment, but the most important part of my Scoliosis journey has come in the two years after my surgery. Here are some of the most important things I have learned since having a straight spine.

1. Self-love is key

Back when I always stood slightly askew, there was so much that made me dislike me. Although I can't contribute all of my growth and self-love to having two metal rods in my spine, standing straight up and down certainly did give 16-year-old me a major confidence boost.

2. Walking is something special

Let me just say, relearning how to walk is incredibly difficult. Everyone on this planet that has had to do it for one reason or another is mad strong and deserves so much respect.

3. True friends are the ones who stick it out

Megan Carmen

I had so many kindhearted and loving people who were there for me before, during, and after my recovery process, and those people who were there then are still here now. Real friends stick it out, and those are the people you should not take for granted.

4. Metal makes you buoyant

I can float without treading water? Explain to me how that is possible. Show me the science, because every time I enter a pool I am perplexed.

5. Be proud of yourself!

There is always a reason to be proud of yourself. Went to class? Yay! Aced a test? Good job! Made it through a big surgery? You should feel proud of yourself because man, you are so awesome.

6. Chaise lounge chairs are just plain rude

Shop for this item at Gardner-White

I don't know who designed these monstrosities, but anyone with a permanently fixed spine knows that bending in this fashion is not an option. It is, however, a great party trick... "look at me I'm a human 2 x 4!"

7. Laughter really is the best medicine

A good chuckle can really get you out of the sad. Helping someone laugh is the perfect way to extend a hand, and there is never a time laughing is not a good thing. The number of vine compilations I watched during my recovery because I just needed a good laugh... thank you vine.

8. Don't be afraid to ask for help

Giphy

There are so so SO many people out there that love and care for you and are willing to do anything in their power to help you. For me, it was things as simple as asking my sister to refill my water or as complex and embarrassing as having to have my mom help me shower (thank you, mom). There are people here for you. Always.

9. Don't be afraid to help yourself

Even though there are always people to help you, sometimes you have to take the initiative to help yourself. Being able to help yourself is an equally strong characteristic as asking others for help.

10. "Parks & Rec" is the superior TV show

Giphy

This show never fails to cheer me up and I guarantee it will do the same for you.

11. Midwest weather does not like bodies

When people with metal in their bodies say "I can feel the weather changing"... they are not lying.

12. Faith will move mountains

Having a hard time? Faith. Having a really good time? Faith. Even during the most mediocre of times, having faith will get you through.

13. Grit is good

Giphy

Medical issues happen to everyone, and coming out the other side takes grit. Being able to go through something incredibly hard and making it to the end is a huge accomplishment. You can do anything you set your mind to.