Bent Not Broken: Scoliosis Awareness Month
It’s that time of year again. The time when we wave goodbye to spring and hello to summer. We celebrate our dads on Father’s Day and commemorate the adoption of the United States flag. LGBT Pride is observed worldwide to honor the Stonewall Riots and to promote acceptance of sexual diversity. Increased awareness is raised for men’s health, Alzheimer’s and PTSD. While it is true that these events and causes are important, it is also a reality that others may not receive the same recognition.
June is Scoliosis Awareness Month
Scoliosis is a disorder that is characterized by an abnormal curvature of the spine. Symptoms can appear at any age and, depending on severity, are treated with observation, bracing, or surgery. The cause of scoliosis is unknown in most cases and can be brought on by various risk factors, such as age, sex, or family history. Complications of the disorder include chronic pain, lung and heart damage, and low self-esteem triggered by noticeable changes in appearance. Unfortunately, there is no method to completely cure scoliosis. However, symptoms and complications can be reduced with early detection.
Raising awareness for scoliosis is a cause that is incredibly close to my heart. I am, in fact, one of millions who has been diagnosed with the disorder. It just so happens that my case is also not as common. I was born with scoliosis that had been caused by a rare form of Dwarfism. It would be the beginning of many years of being poked and prodded for most of my childhood. I had truly been through it all, from wearing a brace to being in halo-traction, which landed me in the medical history books. As I grew older, the curve in my spine became so severe that not even surgery could correct it.
After regaining my strength from temporary paralysis, my family and I decided that it was best to discontinue treatment. At this point in time, I had been in high school and wanted to focus on planning for my future rather than wondering when I would be in the hospital again. Although I was relieved to finally close this chapter in my life, I also experienced feelings of concern as well as anger. The treatment had failed and left me not only with visible scars but ones that couldn’t be seen with the naked eye. This also meant that the quality of my life would be uncertain.
Living with scoliosis has been the most challenging aspect of my disability. I have lived with this condition for twenty-four years and still have so much more to learn. I am still learning to accept how it has changed my appearance. I am still learning how to cope with the chronic pain. I am still learning to overcome the fear that I may need to rely more on my wheelchair someday. Above all else, I am learning that I’m not alone. Scoliosis Awareness Month not only exists for the purpose of providing education. It also helps to unite those who are directly affected by the disorder.