Yesterday, I received an email commending my scoliosis posts. I felt thrilled and proud.
Proud, gosh I never ever thought scoliosis would give me a sense of achievement.
It has been a long painful road, overcoming the shame of having a curved spine. You feel like a freak.
Further, more than the physical pain this disease entails, the social and emotional repercussions are devastating. The pain of being an outcast, no one wants to be with a hunchback.
Discovering My Curved Spine
Thirty years ago no one had heard of scoliosis in the village I lived in and nobody in my immediate circle had a twisted spine. Today, with the internet one can easily update oneself about anything. Now you can easily check the Whats? Whys? Hows?
When exactly did I find out I had this condition? The term hunchback was somewhere there in my consciousness. I remember reading the story of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame as a kid and was repulsed and fascinated by the love of Quasimodo’ for the beautiful Esmeralda.
I must have been in class 9, struggling to cope with the confusion of traumatic home life when a classmate commented about my shoulders. How come your shoulders are uneven. One is up and the other is so down. I brushed it aside saying that I carry my bag on one shoulder, so due to the weight, it slopes downward. But being the future medical specialist (today she is a medical researcher) she did not seem convinced.
Next, my brother and I would constantly take our heights, one day after such a session. he commented ‘Hey, your height has reduced.’ So at 13 years from being 5 feet, my height reduced to 4.10 then to 4.9 feet.
Devastating Diagnosis Of Scoliosis
I then knew for sure something was wrong with my spine. Moreover, there was the constant pain and my whole body seemed off-balance.
Oh, I did notice my back was not straight, one side was more in, my right side of my breast was smaller than my left, one leg was shorter than the other, my neck was more turned to my right side. I knew something was desperately wrong with my body but who do I tell. My mother was long dead and my father was a real nut-case.
Everyone in my extended family seemed busy with their lives and did not want to be bothered.
Finally, my father noticed that something was off with my back.
One would have expected at least then my father would shut the fuck up and have some pity. Instead, he thought I was doing it on purpose. And would violently shove me and try to push me back into position. It never occurred to him to take me to the doctor. Or maybe he was ashamed.
Finally, after two years of trying HIS IDIOTIC BEST of getting my spine into alignment, someone advised him to take me to the doctor. The first doctor said that this condition happens and nothing could be done now as I was done growing. I was nearly 17 years old. But still advised us to go to the Orthopedic Hospital.
I will never forget the doctor saying that I was brought in too late as I had finished with my growth. It was devastating news to a 17-year-old. The thought that I was going to remain a freak for the rest of my life made me want to kill myself.
Having a distorted, misshapen body when I was on the cusp of womanhood filled me with a deep sense of shame. Every waking hour I was thinking of how to hide this horrible secret. I felt so repulsive to my self. To make matters worse, because I refused to wear the brace which even the doctors said would not really help, my father would taunt me, ‘Yeah remain like the Hunchback of Notre Dame’.
He was vicious and uncaring. He hated me because I had become something he was not proud of.
My brother too began resenting me, which sibling wants to be known as the brother of a hunchback.
And then came the traumatic realization that my best friend was avoiding me. It was heartbreaking.
Those were difficult days, emotionally struggling to stay sane and not end it all.
Healing My Spine
I had two choices either suicide or find a solution. I decided to get on finding a solution. I reasoned that any which way I am going to die so why not die fighting to beat it. It has been a long, difficult journey to healing scoliosis. It has taken me beyond the physical, to exploring the emotional and spiritual aspects of my life, the causes and effects.
My journey of trying to straighten my spine has been tough but the insights I’ve gained would not have been possible without scoliosis.
It has taken great courage to survive, Yes. I now feel proud of myself and not the least bit ashamed of having scoliosis.