Todays post is from a young lady sharing her journey with scoliosis. I am thankful that she is sharing her story.
It is something that I had heard of, but not knew much about.
But also there is a message in her story whether you have scoliosis or not.
Check it out!
I remember giggling at the paper machè being draped around me. It was so weird! That was only something I had ever played with in school. But, when the doctor had to cut me out of the hardened paper machè shell.
That was a scary moment.
My name is Leah Gervais. I live in New York City where I work at a non-profit and I run the blog Urban20Something. A blog that helps millennials stand out and stay on top of their goals by self-marketing, networking, and side hustling. I am Broadway obsessed and a dog and book lover.
I have scoliosis, a condition in which your spine is curved and/or twisted.
Scoliosis isn’t terribly uncommon, especially in women, but the trouble is that no two diagnoses are exactly the same. There are three common patterns of scoliosis curves- simply put, your spine will be curved in the shape of C, a backward C, or a backward S. But, the degree of curves, the twisting within the curves, and how they sit in your body will vary for everyone.
I used to say to my second-grade classmates, “scoliosis means I have an S for a spine”.
Most cases of scoliosis need no treatment. More severe cases will get back braces and perhaps physical therapy. In extreme cases, patients will require surgery in their spine.
I don’t remember specifically being told I had scoliosis and understanding what it was. I was only 6!
But, I do remember going to various hospitals to get second opinions before I was molded for my back brace. I remember first getting molded, standing there with my arms spread out as the doctors draped paper mache around my torso.
If you look at an x-ray of my spine, you will indeed see it’s shaped like a backwards S.
I got my first back brace on my 7th birthday. I wore a back brace for 10 years after that.
My parents, friends, and boyfriend are all incredibly understanding of my condition.
They all go out of their way to offer to help me when it comes to lifting big things or having to take transportation because I can’t walk further. They all listen to me when I cry.
Especially my wonderful parents.
But the truth is, feeling alone is the hardest part of my scoliosis. Even though my friends and family are supportive and here for me, they can’t understand what I’m feeling, and I don’t want them to!
To feel trapped inside your own body and unable to escape, to feel like you’re sentenced to pain simply because you woke up that morning, it can be quite dark, and it’s something I honestly do feel like I go through alone.
A couple of years ago, I found a studio in New York specifically for yoga and scoliosis. That’s been an excellent network and has taught me so much about my body and back. It’s definitely helped and given me hope for my future.
My grandmother has been particularly influential for me lately.
Like many women of her era, she hasn’t had the easiest life. She was married and had my father very young. Was never very healthy when she was younger, frequently sick. When my grandfather passed away at a relatively young age, I was worried about my grandmother.
But, she has shown true perseverance and strength in rebuilding her life. She is healthier than ever! The most active grandmother I know. She still frequently visits to see me in NYC and she stays up late drinking wine with me when I come to visit her. All things most grandmothers would not do.
I think of her when I feel down about my physical condition because she continues to show that you can always grow stronger. Nothing is permanent and the power to change is at your fingertips.
We’re all dealt a bad hand of cards once in a while in life. To some, my condition may seem pretty severe and like a huge bummer. I have trouble with physical activity, suffer from back spasms, struggle traveling, and sometimes even struggle to breathe. But, to others, my condition is hardly anything to complain about!
I can walk, I am healthy, I can stay in shape and continue to work out. I can work.
The list goes on and on of things I do have.
So my advice to women struggling with a disability or illness is to continually focus on what you do have, not what you’re missing. Make a list of all you have and read it every single day.
To women with scoliosis: listen to your body. Don’t fight it and don’t force it. Rest whenever you need, and then rest a little extra. Sleep 8 hours a night. And read up on what’s going on!
There’s no greater weapon against your pain than knowledge on why it’s happening. That’s how you’ll figure out how to beat it.
Once you’ve battled the pain of scoliosis, most other things seem like a piece of cake.
I am thankful to Kenya for allowing me to share my story. Scoliosis has been the darkest part of my life. But it has also been the most influential in my personal growth.
It’s shaped who I am, and I’ve even reached a point in my life where I can say that I’m glad that I have it. It encourages me to constantly focus on my health, and I think everyone could benefit from that reminder.
If anyone would ever like to chat about their scoliosis, please email me.
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