Scoliosis Surgery Reflection

Reflecting: 6 Months After My Life-Changing Surgery

It's crazy how one event can completely change the rest of your life.

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As I was falling asleep last night, something occurred to me: it has already been 6 months since I got the spinal surgery that changed my life forever. I almost let the day pass by without even noticing.

One year ago, my scoliosis was a constant thought in the back of my mind. I couldn't go a single day, or even a few hours, without thinking about it in some way. I'd wake up in the morning and instantly become aware of the nagging back pain. I'd look in the mirror and think about how much I hated the way my body looked in my clothes. I'd be in constant pain simply sitting in chairs at school.

Over time, I began to realize that my scoliosis would forever be my burden to bear, and those thoughts would likely never dissipate. I tried to convince myself to grow comfortable with that idea, but I just couldn't. I knew it wasn't the worst thing in the world to have to deal with, but I still couldn't accept the thought that I'd never be pain-free and comfortable in my own body.

Once I discovered that spinal fusion surgery was not only an option but also recommended for severe scoliosis like mine, I finally saw a way out of the future I thought I couldn't control. One day, I could actually be happy in my own skin. One day, I could actually be pain-free. I decided to schedule my surgery for the nearest available date. Once I caught a glimpse of those possibilities, I never looked back.

My surgery experience went as smoothly as it could have, and I recovered quickly. Three weeks after my operation, I went back to school. Three more weeks later, I went back to most of my regular activities. Since my 6-week post-op appointment, I haven't returned to the hospital.

Since my surgery, I've had multiple full weeks without pain. Some weeks are better than others, depending on how often I'm sitting, if I've started a new activity, or if I'm exceptionally active. Days go by and the thought of my scoliosis doesn't occupy my mind. It feels as if I weight has been lifted off my shoulders (quite literally).

My scoliosis and my surgery experience will forever be a part of who I am, but I'm so relieved that they no longer define me and control my life. It's only been six months, and so much has changed already. Although I have no idea what the future holds, I know that it's bright!

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The Burning Of Notre Dame Has Actually Strengthened My Catholic Faith

Corinthians 5:17 says, "Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."

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Every year, Palm Sunday is the start of Holy Week in the Christian faith. As the most sacred time of the year, those who believe Jesus died on the cross for our sins hold these days dear in our hearts. 2019's Palm Sunday, however, is now held in infamy. The very next day, the precious Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris started to burn.

As the world now knows, the famed and historic Notre-Dame de Paris was spontaneously engulfed in flames on April 15, 2019. The cause has not yet been identified precisely but is most likely due to complications during the $6.8 million renovations the cathedral is currently under. Completed back in 1345, the nearly 800-year-old church has withstood the test of time relatively well.

Until now.

The modern world watched as one of the biggest treasures of the past burned away before our eyes, Twitter even erupted in an unprecedented coverage of this world-wide tragedy as many took to social media to pour their condolences and share memories of this French icon. Religion, race and personal beliefs aside, the world collectively grieved and lent support.

While this is truly a loss on a global scale, the blow comes as a particularly harsh one to the Catholic community after a particularly difficult season of Lent. From the Pope addressing allegations of sexual assault, to backlash over the controversial theatrical release of the film "Unplanned", this latest development seemed like a cruel joke in the days leading up to Easter Sunday. I myself felt affected by this fire hundred of thousand miles away in North Carolina. One of our most beloved holy churches was ebbing away in front of us and all God could do was watch.

However, despite all that, we must look forward.

Despite much of the church being reduced to ash, some of the priceless artifacts and objects that were hidden away in the cathedral have been able to survive the ordeal; such as the crown of thorns, numerous pieces of art, the rose windows, the altar cross shown above and the iconic bells of Notre Dame. Once news of this broke out, I was strengthed to my core knowing God was indeed there.

It seems like such an oxymoron to see such a tragedy as a sign of hope, yet the Bible itself is full of those. The 7 plagues that tormented Eygpt, the Great Flood, and even the death of Christ as examples.

As children of Christ, we are told at a very young age to never question his plan. He is all knowing and has a way of making everything fall into place. God sensed that Catholics were in the midst of a troubling time and brought us this opportunity of a new beginning. The burning taking place during Holy Week can also be taken as perfect timing.

The whole premise of this week revolves around the death of Jesus at the hands of Pontius Pilate, yet miraculously returned three days later before joining Our Father in Heaven, the cathedral can very well do the same and return better than before.

It is a devastating loss but already we are seeing evidence of joyous aftermath. As I noted before, people from all walks of life are offering support and condolences to a faith they were scorning just a week prior. Priceless artifacts have miraculously been recovered and plans for rebuilding have already started. This is a sign of a new beginning, that God is backing us through it all.

Do not question His plan, just have faith. The rest will fall into place.

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How I Found My Voice Through Storytelling

"I have always been captivated by the power of good stories because they connect people to one another and enrich our experience of life. For this reason, I write my story every day."

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Storytelling is an art that is at the core of our humanity and it has been a passion of mine from a young age. Ever since I was little, I have been fascinated by the narratives of my family. The practicality of my dad's voice rings in my ears when he shares the lessons he learned from my grandfather. I can still visualize the vivid tales conjured up by my grandmother, whose words had a magical essence that made them seem surreal. These distinct moments are like video clips that are ingrained in my memory to this day.

My parents and grandparents always took pride in sharing their stories with me, and I was eager to learn about the traditions of our family history. Growing up in this environment completely influenced the person that I am today. It had finally occurred to me when I was a little bit older that not everyone had the same relationship to their ancestral past that I did. Not everyone had insight of into the life shaping experiences that affected their loved ones. Not everyone knew their story.

I thought that was the worst thing in the world. I tried to imagine a life in which I didn't know my story or where I came from. Without this information, it was difficult for me to identify a purpose. From the perspective of my life, my story is attached to my drive to succeed. These components of my identity are entwined like fibers of the common thread that ties humanity together. I have always been captivated by the power of good stories because they connect people to one another and enrich our experience of life. For this reason, I write my story every day.

To the people who haven't discovered where they want to go in life or how they plan on getting there, start writing your story. Even if you have no where to start, just pick up the pen and start writing about where you envision your future. Create your purpose, manifest your ideas, and you will begin to become your narrative. Above all, be prepared to use your voice because the best way to add meaning to your work is to share it with others.

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