New year, new spine

I’m starting my new year with a new body. Well, mostly a new spine: one that’s straight and has a fair bit of shiny hardware fused alongside of it.

I have scoliosis, a condition in which the spine is curved, usually ending up being shaped like an S. And when the spine is curved, everything else goes with it: shoulders, shoulder blades, ribs, and hips are the most noticeable ones.

Now, as much as I loved having natural swag and being excessively curvy, I’d been dealing with some unbearable back pain and decided to get the whole thing fixed so nothing could go wrong again.

So over break, I had a snazzy spinal fusion surgery. More technically, a posterior non-segmental instrumentation. Sound scary? It is. It’s a seven-hour operation in which a ton of screws are literally screwed into the vertebrae and a Harrington rod is fitted into them to keep the spine straight after the surgeon wiggles the spine into position.

Yikes.

I spent nine drugged-up days in the hospital, befriending a few of the nurses and throwing f-bombs at most of the rest of them. I had a fair amount of adventures there, from devouring a McDonalds Christmas dinner (and puking it up shortly after) to having to be rescued from the rushing waters of an overflowing toilet.

Now I’m at home, impatiently waiting for my doctor to give me the OK to go back to school.

But I’m excited for more than just returning to my normal-ish life. I’m 2 inches taller now, and my torso, which used to be shaped like a guitar, is now shaped like a feminine hourglass. My self-esteem shot through the roof the first time I looked in a mirror at my new body. Even my grandpa said I look good.

It may sound dumb, but I’m more pleased with the aesthetic results of my operation than the real reason for having it done.

I spent the last eight years wearing baggy shirts and hoodies to mask my odd shape. I stormed out of fashionable stores for not having anything suited for my body. It took years for me to stop caring enough to wear a swimsuit in public.

I’ve been checking myself out a lot lately. I’m in love with my new body. The 16-inch scar running the length of my back is pretty awesome, too.

So, while everyone makes resolutions to work out more or eat fewer scoops of ice cream, mine is to simply appreciate my new body. And that’s what everyone else’s resolution should be, too. Just appreciate what you have; it could be much worse.


This column was originally published in the Jan. 13, 2012, issue of The Verge, the weekly arts and entertainment section of The Daily Eastern News.

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2 comments on “New year, new spine

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