I Have Scoliosis , but Scoliosis Does Not Have Me

Scoliosis may be a foreign term to some people, but for those of us who live with it know it all to well. Usually, if severe, scoliosis is diagnosed at a young age and treated for many years using back braces and physical therapy. You know? The back braces that Hollywood describes as this:

Can we take a moment to thank modern science for eliminating the use of this hideous device… R.I.P.

Today back braces are far more comfortable and concealable under most clothing so people being treated can live a somewhat normal life and participate in almost all activities. My experience was a blessing in disguise. I was extremely young when diagnosed, so my ignorance at age 8 made the situation seem minuscule from my perspective. I just felt like any normal kid. I was in gymnastics, spirit club, gym class, and even had the opportunity to try out for my middle school cheer team. I didn’t make the team but I never blamed scoliosis for my failures because I never felt like it hindered me. The back braces, doctors appointments, & therapy appointments, were just part of it. My parents never let their fear or concern interrupt my life and the value of that is tremendous! So tremendous that I am living my adventurous life today because of them. Yes I do have scoliosis, but scoliosis does not have me.

I underwent the full scoliosis correction surgery on November 6th 2000. I was so excited to NEVER have to wear a back brace again! I was not scared or nervous I just knew it had to be done. 12 hours of surgery, 14 doctors and nurses, 3 days in ICU, and 7 hospital days later I was home. I was home and 3 inches taller with pants that suddenly became high waters. With a curved spine you lose a few inches off your height. So I went into surgery 5’1″ and came home one week later 5’3″. Pants were a problem that got resolved ASAP.

At age 12 I had endured five years of treatments and after 8 weeks of recovery I was finally done. Not one time have I ever felt limited in my abilities or disabled. I can still ride rollercoasters, zip line, climb mountains, surf, and even give birth. My mindset has never changed throughout this journey. I will always have scoliosis but scoliosis will never have me. Since I was so young at the time my surgery took place, my growth spurts did cause my back to regress and I now live with a 52 degree curve. My hips are unaligned, ribs are shifted, and my lungs only have 80% of their function. I know all of this medically sounds painful and negative, but I choose to see it differently. For every extra step my left leg has to make to compensate for my right leg is a reminder that I have the ability to climb any mountain God blesses me with. Most people don’t get the opportunity to feel the earth below their feet like I do. When I am fatigued and have to take breaks to catch my breath, I know that every breath I take in is precious. I get to take it all in, never taking for granted the ability to be adventurous. I can backpack through some of the most beautiful places on earth, and not hesitate. Life is a gift & I will always be grateful that I have this crooked back to carry the weight of what life may bring. I will continue to follow my dreams, live courageously, and thank God for every step I make on this earth.

This is not a reminder of what I CANT do, but what I Still CAN DO!

Caitie.

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