Wednesday, April 28, 2021

X- Rays and Parents

X is for X- Ray

This post didn't really have a destination when I started it...I just kind of started writing and decided to see where it went. This isn't travel related and it's not an "adventure" per-se, But it is about something that shaped me. 

I was diagnosed with scoliosis in 2002 the year before we moved overseas. I was fitted with a brace and while I did try really hard to wear it the recommended amount, it was tough. You see there are two main types of back braces for scoliosis and my particular one was the kind that came up over my shoulders. 

When we moved in 2003, I had to get settled with a new orthopedist and my mom did a lot of research and found me the best doctor- truly I loved him. He was so kind and thoughtful, with a gentle nature and the tact needed when dealing with emotional teen girls. I can vividly remember the drive to go to my first appointment, telling my parents that the only thing I wanted to hear was that he doesn't use the same type of brace I'd been wearing. And my parents let me know that I shouldn't put all my eggs in that basket. Trying to keep my hopes reasonable so as not to be disappointed. 

At that appointment, I found out that my curve had increased quite a bit which was not great news and disappointed all of us. But I was also gifted the news that he wanted me to have a new brace made- to fit the new curve- and it would be a much slimmer, less noticeable brace that DID NOT come up over my shoulders. I could have hugged him. I'm not sure I can express how difficult it was to be at my public middle school in that previous year, with a back brace that stuck out through even my bulkiest turtleneck. It seemed like a small thing but for me it was huge. 

But back to "X is for X-Ray'. In those next few years where I wore my brace consistently- seriously, my parents will back me up. I wore that thing as much as I was supposed to (23 hours a day) with minimal "cheating". But part of that meant that I needed pretty regular x-rays to keep up with how my curve was changing while I was in the middle of my peak growing years. So every few months, my mom and I would trek into the city together. We'd ride the train to London, hop on the tube a few spots to head to the downtown hospital for my x-ray and visit with the doctor. The thing I always thing of is mom and I getting to the hospital on those days together. You came out from the underground in the middle of the BUSIEST intersection and we had to cross the road to get to the hospital. And without fail as we prepared to cross my mom would grab my hand/wrist/arm. I told her once that she didn't need to do that, I assured her I wouldn't run into traffic and could cross the street safely. She laughed and told me it was as much for her as it was for me. And so it continued but with less eye-rolling from me.

When I was a senior in high school I was able to stop wearing my brace that fall. My growing had stopped and my doctor felt like my curve would remain steady moving forward. And so this 5 1/2 year season came to a close and mom and I didn't have anymore trips across that street. 

I think back on those years and that season of my life pretty regularly. Occasionally I think about how hard it was. How uncomfortable the brace was, how it felt like it made everything more challenging, how despite having a supportive group of friends I hated having to be different in that respect. But as I thought through this post I thought of how hard it must have been for my parents too. To watch the hurt and pain of their daughter. To see the huge curve that seemed like it wouldn't stop growing.  But mostly I think about how grateful I am for being where I was. For the doctor I had. For the sweetest friends who never made it feel weird or embarrassing. And for parents who were patient and loving and there every minute. For a mom who would grab my hand to cross the street and hold that same hand when I was having a hard day. 

So x is for x-ray but it's also for eXcellent doctors and eXceptional friends and eXtraordinary parents. 


  1. This post reminded me of a friend in Jr. High who had to wear a brace for scoliosis and hers came all the way up to her neck and had a chin shelf. She played flute in band and made it all look easy. I hadn't thought of her in years. I'm glad yours wasn't that big!! I'm also glad your doctor and your parents were as good and supportive as they were as you went through that! xo

  2. Thank you for sharing such a well-written and personal story. I can only imagine the struggle you faced dealing with that.

    I love letter X posts! Always such variety.
    It's hard to believe the blogging challenge is almost over. Then the after survey, reflections, and the road trip sign-up.
    Plus, I'm taking part in the Bout of Books read-a-thon in May. So much excitement!
    J Lenni Dorner~ Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge, OperationAwesome6 Debut Author Interviewer, Reference& Speculative Fiction Author

  3. Things have definitely moved on - when I was in my teens back in the 1970s kids were wearing what they called "halos" to correct curvatures of the spine - the halo was screwed into their skull and another ring of metal went around their pelvis. The two rings were joined by rods that were gradually extended until the spine was straight enough for an operation to insert rods to keep the spine straight. When I went in for an operation for my feet I thought I was walking into a torture chamber.