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I was diagnosed with scoliosis when I was 13 years old. At my annual well visit at the doctors, they had me bend over. Little did I know that those few seconds touching my toes would change my life forever.
I have always been an active and healthy girl. I didn't have any serious health issues, and I was always busy with sports and schoolwork. When I was diagnosed, I didn't think twice about it. Why? I had never had anything serious happen to me, and I never thought it could happen to me. Anyways, what does it matter if my spine was curved?
I was in for an unpleasant awakening when I got my back brace. The cold, white, hard plastic terrified me yet excited me when I first saw it. Yes, you heard that right, excited me. I tried it on, and was still in utter shock. I didn't think it was too bad. I thought it was embarrassing, sure, but I also thought it was kind of cool that I was different than everyone else.
As I started to wear it the full 18 hours, I realized how hard it was to find the perfect clothes to wear with my brace. You could see the straps through a tight or light shirt. You could see my flat butt and legs in tight pants, or in a shirt that was short. I didn't like anything that I wore. Going from fashionista to sweatpants all day everyday was a drastic change that took a huge toll on my self confidence and overall happiness.
Once I reached one year with my brace, my mental health flopped. It felt like I was strapping on anxiety and depression when I strapped on my brace. I constantly felt sad, lonely, and was very unsociable and didn't enjoy anything. I found it very hard to smile and laugh and to have fun with my friends and family. I just didn't fit in, and I was sick of it.
I wished to have surgery to fix my spine. I wanted to be done with bracing, so bad that I wanted my spine fused and rods and screws put inside of me. Of course, my family, friends, and doctors would never understand that. If I could do anything, I would have everyone in the world have to wear a back brace for a couple days so they can understand my feelings.
My whole body constantly hurt. I couldn't bend or do anything really without wanting to cry in pain. That was yet another reason why I wanted surgery. I didn't want to be stuck like this forever; sad, in pain, and deformed.
I finally came to the realization that it is temporary. That my brace will help me in the long run. That doesn't mean that all of my mental and physical struggles went away. I still deal with the same struggles every single day. My curves are not at the point of surgery, and they likely never will get to it. I am hopefully nearing the end of my bracing journey, and I am very thankful for that.
Living with scoliosis has taught be how to be strong, independent, and how to fake a smile. It has brought along opportunities that I never would have had. Honestly, my life and future would be completely different if it wasn't for it. Yes, I hate that I have to deal with it, but no, I wouldn't wish it away because it has been a life changing journey.