Scoliosis, Straight Up

We all have parts of our bodies we don’t like. But, it’s a whole different ball game when that body part you don’t like is classified as a clinical disease.

When I first thought about writing this article, I thought I’d have to explain a million times over what Scoliosis was, but to my disbelief, I found that it was actually more uncommon for people to not have heard of Scoliosis.

I wish I could say I had a similar experience when I was growing up. There wasn’t a single person I knew who had Scoliosis, let alone someone who had even heard of it – other than my mum. I remember trying to explain it to my friends, but I was too insecure, young and naive to even describe it out loud. I didn’t even understand the condition to be quite honest.

To save you a Google search, to describe it in the most simple terms, Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine. And in Greek it actually means, curved or bent.

Developing Scoliosis before having reached the age of ten is a rare case and if left untreated, it can affect the development of heart and lungs. In the long-term it can also lead to breathing and blood pressure problems. But enough about the scientific stuff, we’re here to talk about me.

Looking back on the whole thing, the worst part wasn’t being able to put a clinical label on my ‘deformed’ spine. What has stuck with me the most was looking in the mirror. What did I see? A pair of hips that were not identical. A shoulder that was lower than the other and a spine that wasn’t shaped the way it is in the diagrams.

And it’s not even something I could hide under clothes. I wasn’t able to wear figure-hugging garments that revealed my boyish figure because you could see how one hip sat higher than the other. And at the time of being young, innocent and incredibly naive, it wasn’t something I was interested in showing to the world.

I always wonder what it would have been like to grow up without a spine deformity. Would I have a greater self-confidence? Would I enjoy wearing fitted clothes more than I like baggy clothes?

As a young adolescent girl, instead of envying others who had already developed breasts or who had really nice hair, I longed for their evenly balanced hips and their ability to wear clothes that I couldn’t.

Seeing others with their perfect posture (which they didn’t have to even think twice about), made me frustrated at the fact that I didn’t look like that too. Amongst all of the all x-rays, visits to the Children’s Hospital and moments in the mirror, I always wondered why I had Scoliosis. Why me?

My doctors always told me that the condition could either see you going one of two ways as you grew older. It would either continue to get worse or it would somehow, magically and beautifully correct itself and you would no longer have (as severe) a case of Scoliosis.

Having only been at least half-way through puberty and not even being close to seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, those words would send me into a frenzy. Every. Damn. Time.

Having thankfully and not so successfully acquired my Diploma of Puberty, the whole thing now kind of seems like a blur. Scoliosis made me a late bloomer in many regards. I was never really interested in fashion because nothing would sit on me properly, I never really considered myself to have a ‘hot bod’ because it wasn’t symmetrical and that also meant I wasn’t really interested in flaunting it in a sexual way. (Now I look back and I’m like fkn own that shit.)

I’m not too sure when, but my spine seemed to straighten itself out when I stopped noticing, when my mum stopped inspecting and I had grown to learn that I am more than just a body. I’m not going to start telling you that you should love your body because everyone is beautiful in their own way, mainly because they’re (un)officially now the oldest words in the books.

But my point is that story sharing is just the beginning of opening the conversation – and to acknowledge that in every adversity, there is a narrative to be told. And that narrative is what makes us who we are today. For better or for worse.

If you’d like to learn more about Scoliosis, visit http://www.scoliosis-australia.org.

Words by Amber De Luca – Tao

IG – @fettywamber1738

Art by Nicholas Manton

IG – @nmanton_

 

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