My Story and Scoliosis Awareness
Normally I don’t get to personal on here but, June is Scoliosis awareness month. Before I get into my story I want to tell you a little about Scoliosis for those who don't know what it is. Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine that occurs most often during the growth spurt just before puberty. While scoliosis can be caused by conditions such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy, the cause of most scoliosis is unknown.Most cases of scoliosis are mild, but some children develop spine deformities that continue to get more severe as they grow. Severe scoliosis can be disabling. An especially severe spinal curve can reduce the amount of space within the chest, making it difficult for the lungs to function properly.Children who have mild scoliosis are monitored closely, usually with X-rays, to see if the curve is getting worse. In many cases, no treatment is necessary. Some children will need to wear a brace to stop the curve from worsening. Others may need surgery to keep the scoliosis from worsening and to straighten severe cases of scoliosis. Only about 10% of patients actually require surgery and only about 30% require bracing. Although both boys and girls develop scoliosis around the same age group. Girls have a higher risk of the curve continuing to worsen.
My spine 19 years after surgery
Now a little bit about my story. When I was 5 my mom was cutting my hair right after a bath. She kept telling me to stand straight and I would yell “I am!” I remember her freaking out a little and then started all the Dr. appointments. I went to a chiropractor for a few years which did nothing except make things worse I think.Then in 3rd grade I went to the Dr to get fitted for a back brace. That was a horrifying experience in itself. They lay you on what looks like metal scaffolding that has a wood board on it. They wrap you like a mummy in wet slimy cheese cloth and you have to lay there still until it dries. Then they use a saw to cut it off of you. A few weeks after that I got my back brace and it was horribly uncomfortable. I had to wear it as tight as it would go and it had to be worn day and night even while sleeping. I remember getting sores from wearing it so I started to wear it over a shirt. Having to go to school wearing it was the worst experience. My teacher had me stand up in front of the class to show what it was and why I had to wear it so that the kids wouldn't pick on me. Well me not liking to speak in front of people while also talking about this embarrassing brace I had to wear was my worst nightmare as an 8 year old kid. Being a new kid in a school and also wearing a back brace was horrifying. I got made fun of despite explain to everyone what it was and why I had to wear a back brace. Kids would call me names and run up to me and knock on my back brace. I would sneak out of the house not wearing my brace to school. This was before bulling was a huge subject in schools and not much was really done about it. I will never forget my very first friend in 3rd grade when moving to a new school. Her name is Vanessa and her and I still talk to this day on Social media! She made things not feel so lonely there. I use my experience to teach my kids about how some people are born differently but that doesn't make them any less special than anyone else. I don't want my kids to be the ones to bully someone in school just because they look differently than they do or act differently. I think a lot of times these conversations with children get overlooked and really they should be talked about often! This would help children to understand what other people are going through and would eliminate a lot of bullying in schools I think.
Despite wearing the back brace for a year my spine went from a 59 degree when I was diagnosed to a 75 degree. I had developed severe asthma from my spine growing and pushing on my lungs. They told my mom at the rate my spine was changing I would probably not make it to 20. So at 10 I had to have a spinal fusion surgery and Harrington rods put in. At 10 years old I really had no idea what was actually going to happen. I remember waking up in the hospital drugged up on morphine, the room looked like I was in a dream and I remembered looking over and seeing my cousin and little sister playing in a crib. I was TERRIFIED! All I wanted was my mom but no one would get her. The same day of the surgery they make you sit in a chair. That was the worst pain I had ever felt. The entire time I was in the hospital I was on morphine and it made me hallucinate really bad. Which for a 10 year was like I was stuck in a nightmare. 20 years later and I still remember every hallucination I had! My dad had stayed overnight with me in the hospital and I remember waking him up telling him that I had swallowed all of my teeth and that I wanted to go into the living room and watch a movie lol!
Although the surgery helped my back tremendously, going from 75 degrees to 25, I was always self conscious of my back. My scars, my shoulder sticking out. I was always afraid that everyone was staring at me. This made me the quiet weird kid in school that didn't want to talk to anyone because I was afraid of getting hurt. Luckily I met some great friends along the way and they made getting through middle school/highschool a lot easier. I count my blessings everyday as my case is far from the worst and I am able to live a pretty normal life and I was able to have 3 beautiful children with zero complications. Having my girls has really erased a lot of my self consciousness. They show me everyday that no matter what life is beautiful. I also have a very supportive husband that I met when we were in high school who thinks the world of me and makes me feel beautiful and worth it everyday. Its taken me 20 years to finally not give a crap what people think of my back when they see it. I wear my scars with pride and don't try to hide them.
If you are struggling with scoliosis, have gone through the same thing or are struggling with any self consciousness from another disease Im here to talk! I love encouraging people and talking about experiences in hopes to help others. My biggest advice is dont waste your life worrying about what others think and DO YOU! Do what makes you happy and what makes you feel good! For those with scoliosis who wear clothes to cover up that scar or the "Hunch back" wear that cute ass dress you have been dying to wear that shows your back, guys swim shirtless and rock it! I have been wanting to a photoshoot of my back for a while now. I wanted to do something to show how far I have come in learning to love myself the way I am. So my best friend Michelle with Michelle Lee Photography help me with these photos. She took them for me and I edited them. I used my x-ray and photoshopped it over my back so you can really see what scoliosis looks like <3.