I believe in the power of titanium hooks, rods and screws. I believe that no matter how crooked my back was, scoliosis straightened me out. I believe that the physical malformation of my spine gave me a reason to believe in the power of a bright side.
Long before I made the walk to the X-ray department at my pediatrician, I knew there was something wrong with me. I felt it inside as much as I could physically see it. Modesty impaired my judgment and I refrained from seeking help until my mom intervened.
Frustrated, confused, nervous, terrified, embarrassed, and angry, I was ready to give up. I felt like the world singled me out and that there was a red blinking arrow hanging above my head pointing me out. I felt like the black sheep of my family. I felt like my family was disappointed in me, I felt like they would be ashamed of me and want to stash me away in the broom closet.
As soon as I let the reality sink in and let enough time pass to be sure I wasn’t playing the lead role in a horrible nightmare, I realized that I now had a tangible thing to attribute my emotions to. The large twist in my spine was a physical manifestation of the twists and turns my feelings take.
These feelings are the reason I owe everything I am to the spontaneous deformation.
The diagnosis was a low blow, true, but the feeling of hope and strength that surrounded me after a 9 hour surgery was indescribable. If not for such a surgery, I would never have known the comfort a waiting room full of family could bring. My family poured their love into my recovery and my friends were there as a support structure.
I knew I would never be the same after I was straightened out. Not only was I two inches taller, but I had hundreds of thousands of dollars of hardware as an accessory. While I can’t ever ride a roller coaster again, the time in my life that was turned upside down was enough to last me an eternity.
I now wear my scar as a badge of honor. I am no longer ashamed because I now belong to an elite group of people who are not burdened with, but blessed with scoliosis. I was forced to grow up and find my identity, and I have a solid knowledge of who I am and what I stand for because of scoliosis.
The thin scar that stretches 21 inches represents the long road I’ve come down. The hardware in my back represents the silver lining that surrounds every situation. The hooks and screws grounded me and allowed me to see the things worth fighting for. When I stand up straight I am reminded that there is always room for growth and improvement.
I live and breathe scoliosis. It is the reason I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it is the reason I believe in hooks, rods and screws.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.