Shades of Grace: A Scoliosis Diagnosis

Several weeks before we moved from Nashville, we spent a long day at Vanderbilt hospital. That day I was diagnosed with scoliosis. After hours of ex-rays and doctors, we were told the news and scheduled an appointment to come back to be fitted for a back brace. My spinal curve was fairly significant, and they told us that although the brace would not totally correct it, it would certainly prevent worse damage. As an adult, I know much better now (realizing how long and painful recovery is) that back surgery is not what I would have wanted. But as a 14 year old girl, surgery sounded a million times better than wearing a neck/back brace … to MIDDLE SCHOOL!
My very kind and understanding parents told me that we could wait to get the brace until the week we moved so I didn’t have to go back to school in Nashville. I decided I would rather start in a new school looking weird than go back into the one I attended. Hey, what would you expect? I was an insecure middle schooler! 🙂
We spent all day at Vanderbilt on that Monday in March getting fitted with the brace, more ex-rays, doctors coming in and out, and my mama constantly trying to smile lovingly at me and make me feel better about it all. I am sure my daddy cried with me. He always did. I recently read in a journal of mine from that day the thoughts of my younger self. Terrible day. Got brace for body. Very UNcomfortable. Stayed there from 9:00 am til 6:00 pm. … Less than a week later we moved into our house in Decatur, AL.
As for those shades of grace? …
Besides the bigger story of my family attempting to love an 8th grader with a bad attitude, was this little gem: When we got to the church where my dad would be pastor, two girls in our youth group had scoliosis and wore back braces! Seriously. And what’s even crazier is that I had not known any girls with one nor have I seen any girls in back braces since! None. Ever.  But for the next few years, in my youth group and youth choir there were three girls with back braces. Isn’t God good?
Admittedly, I didn’t see much good about it at the time. The metal from the brace tore and ruined many of my clothes; it was uncomfortable, awkward, and embarrassing. My BFF helped me make the best of those days and years and never seemed to mind being seen with me. She laughed with me – well mostly at me – and helped me overcome much of my insecurity. There were those times I wanted to stay home and feel sorry for myself, but my family and friends did a great job of loving me through it.
I wore the brace for 23 hours a day for almost 2 years. By the middle of my Sophomore year in high school I didn’t have to wear it to school. It wasn’t too much longer after that, the doctor gave me the three words I had longed to hear: “No more brace.”

My brother recalled a memory of those days that probably best sums up those early months. I was complaining about getting my 9th grade school picture made (the one in the pink shirt). My mom encouraged me to take the brace off for the picture. David reminded me that I sarcastically said to her “Why? This is how I look isn’t it?!?”

I can laugh now. So can she.
I don’t have many pictures of me in those years. I am sure I asked my mom to please burn them all. 🙂 But a few made their way through the years.
A diagnosis of scoliosis.
Shades of grace … 
even with a brace.

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