Scoliosis is "a condition involving an abnormal sideways curvature of the spine." There is no found cause of the disorder.
Not many would know that I have gone through my own journey with scoliosis. The condition itself is more than just the abnormality of my spine — its effects on both the physical and mental states of an individual are equally devastating.
I am posting my own story of scoliosis in hopes that someone might read it who knows someone with the condition or has it themselves might relate to it in some way and take something away from it.
I was diagnosed with acute scoliosis in middle school. At that point, it was just a check every six months on the curvature of the spine to make sure it was not progressing. The summer before my freshman year of high school, the curvature increased drastically.
It was so noticeably drastic that I was needed to be checked at Seattle Children's Hospital. There, I had a full spinal x-ray, which revealed that the curvature of my spine had tipped into the phase of needing to wear a spinal brace to prevent further progression of my spine.
For the next year, I had to wear the Boston brace twenty-two hours a day, with only being able to take it off to shower and to exercise. The brace failed, however, and the curves of my spine continued to progress throughout the year, the greatest curve being 52 degrees.
I had to make a decision, continue with the brace until the end of my puberty in hopes that the curves would stop progressing and I would live my life with my spine curved like an "S," or go through spinal fusion surgery to correct the curves.
The pain that I went through that year had tipped the scale of my mental state. I could not imagine living my life out with my spine the way it was.
I decided to go through the surgery the March of my sophomore year. The surgery entailed having two titanium rods pressed against the sides of my spine, with multiple bolts going through them to stabilize the spine. It was a week in the hospital, a month on bed-rest, and six to nine months for full recovery. After surgery, I had a nearly straight spine, with my greatest curve being 11 degrees.
I learned a lot from this journey. The aggressiveness of the surgery created a lot of issues for me. It caused me months of insomnia, which then led to months of counseling to help cope with my stress and anxiety disorders.
I learned how to be confident.
It was important because I had to wear a bulky body brace to school every day. They made me feel super uncomfortable and insecure no matter how many layers of clothes I had on.
I learned how to be strong.
Not only for myself, but for my family when undergoing such a life-changing experience as this one was.
I learned how to be not-so-negative about scoliosis.
Rather, it was something to face head on and learn from. Without going through this journey, I would be a much different person than I am today. It pushed me to go outside of my crumbling comfort zone and try things that I would not have in high school. Sitting here, writing this as a freshman student at college, I am grateful for this journey.
To the young girls and boys that are just starting their journey with scoliosis:
It is okay to feel vulnerable and feel different from everyone else. When you explain to others what you have and how it affects you, they might not understand the complexity of the disorder.
To the parents of kids with scoliosis:
The grey-zone of scoliosis is scary. My parents would know first-hand of that. The debate between the brace and no-brace, or surgery or no surgery is hard. Make sure to always leave the ultimate decision to your child, it is THEIR life that will be the most affected by it.
I hope this personal note does some good in the world, that someone with scoliosis reads it and find comfort in it knowing someone out there knows exactly what they are going through. Scoliosis is not something to be ashamed of, but rather something to embrace. It is just one part of what makes a person who they are.
More information about Scoliosis can be found at the Spine-Health website!