Scoliosis May Have Bent My Spine, But It Will Not Break My Spirit

Scoliosis May Have Bent My Spine, But It Will Not Break My Spirit

Scoliosis may have changed my life, but it was for the better.
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If you're reading this right now I'm sure you either have scoliosis, know someone who has it, had it, or are just curious as to what it is and how it affects people. Scoliosis is an invisible illness with no certain cause. There are cures, but for now, there is no definite answer as to why it occurs.

My scoliosis story is pretty similar to most people's. It all started in 6th grade when I was in PE and the school nurse came in with a weird tool used to detect a curve in the spine. One by one we all had to line up, put our hands and feet together, and bend over so she could pass the tool over our spines. Of course, everyone ahead of me was one and done, but when she got to me things were different.

After the first time, she asked me if she could go over me again. Of course, I didn't think anything of it until later that day when I was called into her office. She sat me down and told me she detected a minor curve so she would be referring me to an orthopedic surgeon in town.

At my appointment with this doctor, my x-rays did show one curve measuring approximately 32 degrees. At this point, Dr. Fitter said he would refer me to the New Orleans Children's Hospital so I could see a pediatric orthopedist since he generally didn't treat young patients with scoliosis and I would get better care and help from them. From that day on, my life was completely different.

My first appointment at CHNOLA was in January 2012, I was only 11 years old and honestly didn't know what I was getting myself into. I was scheduled to take more x-rays, and then to see my new doctor, Dr. Accousti. During this appointment, Dr. Accousti confirmed what we had been told, I did indeed have scoliosis. This diagnosis was a bit difficult for my dad to handle; since he had it at my age also, he felt as though it was his fault I ended up with it. While yes it is genetic, nothing he did cause me to have this invisible illness.

Dr. Accousti explained that my curve definitely was not severe enough for surgery, and our first treatment method would be a corrective brace. I'd wear it 7-8 hours a night while I slept, and this would hopefully stop the curve from progressing. At the brace center of the hospital, I was measured, picked my pattern, and would come back in two weeks for a fitting.

After 6 months in the brace, I had another appointment with Dr. Accousti to check whether or not bracing was actually working. Unfortunately, it wasn't. I believe the brace wasn't working because I was losing weight very quickly, therefore it didn't fit the way it did initially. The brace was adjusted again to my new size, and I was set to come back in another six months.

Shocker, at this appointment we just got more bad news. The brace still wasn't working, I was still losing weight and growing out of the brace's size, and to add to it all, I now had a second curve in my spine. This meant getting fit for yet another brace (on the upside I got to pick another new pattern) and yet again come back in six months to have more x-rays to check my progression.

At this point, if you're still reading, I bet you can guess what happens next. Another appointment, more bad news. I continued to lose weight and continued to need a resize in my brace. Not to mention the fact that my curves were still getting worse. I think at this time my curves were at about 40 and 43 degrees each. Dr. Accousti was still insistent I keep wearing the brace. My curves still weren't at surgery point and he was hoping the curves would just stop growing.

By the next appointment, nothing changed. The brace still wasn't doing the job we had all hoped it would do. Now, it was time to discuss surgery. I was in high spirits that surgery was my best option. It wouldn't change anything about me besides the fact that I would be upright all the time. I was fully confident in this option and from that day on we scheduled both my surgery and pre-op appointments.

If you've been keeping up with the timeline it is now November of 2013. I spent two years bracing in an attempt to correct my scoliosis and it just wasn't happening. My pre-op x-rays showed my curves to be 43 and 45 degrees at the beginning of the month. Two weeks later, November 21, 2013, (also known as my scoliosis anniversary date) these curves were now at 45 and 47 degrees. When I heard this, I was even more assured surgery was the right choice.

When I woke up from surgery I was still the same person, just a little bit taller and in a lot more pain. Nothing felt different until they made me sit up; that's when I realized my life changed. Walking was even more of a task because I had to learn to do it all over again.

Going back to school after 6 weeks was different, but not impossible. There were certain things I couldn't do. Certain things I needed other people to do for me. That aspect was hard for me to swallow. I didn't want to have to depend on other people to do things for me.

Fast forward to now. It's senior year and just by looking at me I am no different from anyone else, besides having a little better posture. I went to my last appointment as a patient at CHNOLA in November and was fully released. Throughout high school, I was extremely involved with swim team and band and had no problems doing anything I set my mind to doing.

Scoliosis did nothing to discourage me from being the person I was before my diagnosis.

It did, however, encourage me to find a career choice, but that's a different story.

My journey may be completely similar to ones you've heard before, or it could be totally different. Scoliosis is a part of me I will never want to change. It made me the person I am today, and throughout it all, I had high spirits. The best way to conquer something is to believe it won't conquer you.

A photo from 3 months post-op
Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.
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You won't see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won't laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won't go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They'll miss you. They'll cry.

You won't fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won't get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won't be there to wipe away your mother's tears when she finds out that you're gone.

You won't be able to hug the ones that love you while they're waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won't be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won't find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won't celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won't turn another year older.

You will never see the places you've always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You'll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges, and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it's not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don't let today be the end.

You don't have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It's not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I'm sure you're no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won't do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you'll be fine." Because when they aren't, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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Your Health Journey Is A Marathon, Not A Sprint

Perfection takes time.

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When you first start to do something, you have all of the motivation in the world to accomplish that goal set out in front of you, especially when it comes to being healthier. The problem is as you continue through this journey and food and laziness kick in, motivation slips. It's human, and it happens to everyone no matter how physically strong they are.

Trying to be healthier doesn't always mean losing weight. It can be so your knees don't ache as much, so you don't feel as out of breath climbing stairs, or any goal you have set for yourself. Being healthier is personal and different from person to person.

I will be the first to admit that there are plenty of changes I would love to make about myself. From my weight to my body type and many other things about myself inside and out. I am by no means the most confident person about how I look, but I have worked hard for the past year to be an overall healthier person.

Becoming healthier isn't about looking thinner or fitting into a specific size of clothes. It is about taking care of yourself from eating better to working out more. There comes a feeling of confidence in what your body can do if you put a little love in it.

Perfection takes time, and I know firsthand how frustrating trying to be healthier can be.

Pizza tastes so much better than salad. It is so easy to fall into a rhythm of something that seems never to change whether that is your weight or your mile time. Sadly, you can't build a city, or become healthier overnight.

We see people who are thinner, curvier, smarter, faster, and so much more than us. We all waste time comparing ourselves to people around us and on our timelines, but some of our biggest strengths are our individuality and the gift of getting back up after falling down.

All I can say is, please don't give up on your goal of being healthier because this is solely for you. We can have a great support system in the world and have everyone in our corner, but that isn't enough.

You need yourself. You need to know that if you don't entirely put yourself in this journey, then you won't fully succeed. Your commitment to bettering yourself can keep you going even if you want to give up.

Your motivation may not be at its peak level right now, and you may have every cell in your body screaming at you to quit. Don't do it. Prove to yourself that you can keep going no matter what. Not giving up will be worth it. The results and taking the hard way will make you a stronger person inside and out.

You can do this. You can do anything you want to accomplish if you just believe in yourself. You need to understand that becoming healthier takes endurance. There will be periods where you slow down and may not be going at your fastest pace. The difference is that you are not giving up and you are still trying and moving.

Don't treat becoming healthier as a sprint: short term and quick. That mentality will only leave you feeling deflated and defeated. It is a life-long marathon of pacing yourself and pushing yourself further than ever before.

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