Thursday, October 30, 2008

Brace Yourself

Writers Workshop Wednesday

Deciding was tough this week,

But first, I invite you to my existence in Junior High. Which led to a life changing moment in High School

Picture this...
The year is 1990
You are in the middle of seventh grade.
You have lots of friends, your mom just scored you a Guess Sweatshirt and a Swatch watch. You have perfected the puffiest bangs possible, secured with lots of Aqua Net Hairspray. You are rocking it everyday, due in part to a wide array of Wet and Wild cosmetics secured neatly in an amazing teal and purple Caboodle.

No one even makes fun of you for your braces, because the invention of colored rubber bands makes them nearly cool.
The biggest problem facing you is becoming a cheerleader for eight grade.
Then it happens, and its ok to laugh, because trust me you will want to.
The school nurse calls your folks with the news that you, my friend have scoliosis. And no, not a minor curve and a slight malformation. A doozy of a curve. One that requires this:

It was as scary as it looks.
Meet I am here to ruin your teenage years. AKA The Jerk

The jerk was awful.
I couldn't put it on by myself, and my mom wasn't able to help. So, here I am, 13 years old and my dad or older brother are putting this contraption on me everyday.
I had to wear old man tshirts under it so I wouldn't get a rash.
I had to wear it for 23 hours a day. TWENTY THREE HOURS!!!
It tore little holes in all my clothes.
There was no hiding it. Ever, at all.
I wasn't permitted to play any sports, because, (wait for it) - The school was concerned I could hurt someone if they ran into me.
It was hot, really hot.
And, after two and a half years (Um yeah, freshman year of high school as well), it did nothing. In fact, my scoliosis got worse. They say it had to do with my growth spurt, but whatever. It didn't work.
Before I move on to the surgery, lets just lay it all on the line- It was junior high. Kids are cruel. Yes -they made fun of me. Not all of them, but a lot. Was I surprised...Of course. Back then anyway, I was surprised, and hurt. Today, I know that its wrong, but its kind of how the system known as growing up works. I know it will be a very grim day for my kids if I find out they are picking on someone like that. I also know, that it is very likely that day will come. I hope that our future children and my nieces and nephews are the kids that stand up for the picked on kid. I hope that they are never on the receiving end of the picking on. However, I am realistic and logical. Growing up is rough, no matter who you are or what you do or do not have. I truly look back at this brace and laugh. It didn't make me jaded or taint my junior high memories. In fact when I read the prompt "Explain your junior high years", I had to think for a minute before I even remembered the brace. I like to remember the moments in my life as little things pieced together to mold me into who I am today

Now to the surgery...That is one of the best things to even happen to me.
The brace wasn't working. Like, I said my spine was actually getting worse. So, we went back to the doctor and he explained surgery was the only option. My spine was so curved it looked like a sideways horseshoe. Slightly straight at the top, a horseshoe curve in the middle, slightly straight at the bottom.
The surgery was scheduled for Dec 1st 1993. We showed up at the hospital (all 10 of us, because I like to arrive in style. That kid from Entourage ain't got nothing on me), and the doctor informed us that he had to have an emergency root canal. Fine by me, no way was I allowing a doctor to perform 12 hours of surgery on my freakin spine if he wasn't in tip top shape for it. Two days later, it happened. I went to the hospital, and 12 hours of surgery later, my spine was straight.
To put it in perspective, my spine was so jacked up that when they straightened it, I grew 2 1/2 inches.

Cool surgery tidbits:
Literally, in a matter of hours I grew 2 1/2 inches.
In order to measure how much movement they could make on my spine, they placed tiny needles in my ankles, wrists, and head. Before putting me under the doctor had me look at my hands. Using the little contraption he made my fingers wiggle. It was cool and freaky at the same time.
There were 9 people that sat in the hospital waiting room for over 14 hours while the prepped me and did the surgery. I have a very close family. My dad, however, nearly strapped my grandpa Jerry to the chair in the waiting room. He is a pacer.
Instead of my hip, because of the recovery time, the doctor used one of my ribs for the bone graft and fusion.
The doctor was amazing and my scars are barely visible.


Sometimes Sophia said...

Wow! What a story. Torture and trama all rolled into one. Fascinating post. How long since the surgery and how does your back feel today?

Elizabeth said...

WOW! Jr High was truly life changing for you. I have no excuse for not being popular...I had no back brace...I didn't even have "braces". I just was uncool. ;-) BUT, i was a cheerleader.

what a story's amazing that you grew 2.5" that is outrageous. I had a friend a efw years younger that had a brace for a year...I have no idea how it all turned out...I should ask her over facebook. :-)

thanks for was very interesting.

Heather said...

I think I had that same Caboodle that you did. Weren't they the best? Filled will all kinds of important make up and hair stuff that never got used.

Your back problems sound terrible. I'm glad you were able to get it straightened out (pun intended :D) with surgery.

Saundra@An Italian Mama Gone Crazy said...

What a story!

What a story!

I hope your back is still in tip top shape!

Diane said...

This made me just ache. Junior High sucked. I knew someone with a brace like yours and I always felt so sorry for her... but she was a mean girl (mean before the brace, not because of it), so I could only feel but so sorry. Anyway, I convinced myself I had a curve, too, and spent countless sleepless nights trying to see it in the mirror (though I couldn't... ummm... 'cause it wasn't there) and worried that my parents would notice it and make me wear The Brace. God. I was neurotic. Yeah, Junior High sucked.

Momma Trish said...

Amazing story! I'm so glad they were able to straighten your spine. At the end of the day, you're well and healthy, and that's all that really matters.

Ashley said...

That is an amazing story!
However, I did LOL when I read the reason you weren't allowed to play sports.

Mama's Losin' It said...

Wow! 2.5 INCHES! Wow. So how tall are you? And did the operation work? How are you today? I bet the kids that teased you feel awful about it now as adults...we're such brats as kids. I love your outlook though!

ckrae said...

Remember coming up north to buy a special dress? I think it was for your 8th grade graduation..... As we were going to town... we forgot you had your brace on (How could we do something as silly as that). We pulled off the main road and took it off of you. What a chore that was. I only had to help you a couple of times. I remember getting that beautiful dress for you. I think we want back home (to my home) to color Easter eggs with your brother. I still have the pictures. Love you. YFA

ckrae said...

Oh... one thing you forgot to add..... the wash rag we had to keep between you and the brace I remember the t-shirt also. But the wash rag was a given.

Mc Allen said...

ok, you win... Im sorry that happend right then, thats such a fragile time.thank goodness its all behind us huh? my girls want to be put in jr. high( we homeschool) and I'm always thinking, if they only knew. But there are times when I consiuder it just to they can see what its like!! Thanks for sharing!!LA

Trisha said...

Ok. So you do get sucky Junior High of the year award. But lets also remember some of the good laughs it brought us. Like that one night when you had a VERY important question about the stability of the steal rods? Oh yeah, you remember. That still makes me laugh!! Your such a trooper about so many things:)

Trisha said...

And one more thing, I dare you to use that Caboodle when you fly home next!! Come on, you know it's small yet still effective!