Growing Up With Scoliosis This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   It all began when I was in the fifth grade. The school nurse and doctor checked backs for scoliosis. My mother was told that I had it, so we made an appointment with a local orthopedic surgeon. That was the first of many opinions, and second opinions, until I finally ended up at Children's Hospital.

The doctors here agreed with all the other doctors that the best treatment would be to put me in a brace for a couple of years until I stopped growing. I didn't think that was a good idea. I had once seen a girl who had a brace and she was so strange looking. I didn't want to look like that. I vowed to myself that I would not wear it, no matter what they said.

Next, I was fitted for the brace. It was a dirty, messy room and plaster covered the floor. A very big, loud and rough man came in to make it for me. He squeezed a tape measure around my waist so tight it hurt. He explained that the brace would have to be tight or it wouldn't help me. Didn't this man realize that it would hurt me that way? I wanted to burst into tears and run out of the room, but I held them back as best I could.

The brace was as bad as I imagined. It was big, and there were ugly metal buckles on the back so you could pull it tight. When it was pulled tight, it hurt more than I thought it would. I squeezed my stomach in so I could hardly breathe, and I had to stand up perfectly straight, which I wasn't at all used to. I hated it. I took it off to go home. Unfortunately, I had to bring it home with me.

The first few weeks were the hardest. First, I had to buy all new, big clothes because my own didn't fit over the brace. While I was breaking it in, I started to get sores on my skin because it was so sensitive. Sometimes my hips would get huge blisters which would pop and bleed painfully. It was so uncomfortable to sit down. I looked funny walking in it too. Every night I would cry myself to sleep thinking about it. I felt sorry for myself and I would ask God "Why me?" I was extremely worried about people seeing me in it. What about after summer vacation when school started once again? I was afraid all the kids would talk about it behind my back. I thought everybody would notice it. I decided I would refuse to wear it to school. To me, my social life was more important than wearing an ugly brace to school.

Well, I did end up wearing the brace to school that year, and the next year, and the year after that. Gradually, things did get much, much better. I was worried for nothing. None of the kids at school even knew about it. Of course, my friends knew, but only because I told them. Even the few that found out on their own didn't seem to think it was a big deal. It was hardly ever mentioned. I grew more comfortable with it, so I could run and play at recess without much of a problem. I only got sores from it on rare occasions. My mom even let me go to school without it on Tuesdays (gym days) In the end, everything turned out fine.

When I was eleven, the thought of having to wear a brace was the worst thing in the world. But, now I realize it was all for the best. After all, two years in a brace could have saved me a lifetime of pain and suffering. This experience has also changed my outlook for the future. The doctors say if it does get any worse, an operation might be necessary. At first I thought, no way! Now, I realize that if I ever do need one, it would be for my own benefit in the long run. If, by chance, the brace has saved me from ever needing surgery, then I am truly thankful for having worn it all that time. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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