Spotlight on Scoliosis

I’m not one to follow kings and queens and princes and princesses, but when I overheard my coworkers talking about the latest royal wedding and the bride’s open-backed dress, I had to do some instant Googling. And what do you know? The princess has the same back scar I have.

Princess Eugenie wore an open-backed dress on her wedding day, showing the world her beautiful scar from scoliosis surgery.

“I had an operation when I was 12 on my back, and you’ll see on Friday (at the wedding), but it’s a lovely way to honor the people who looked after me and a way of standing up for young people who also go through this.”

This means the world to me. What a wonderful way to show young people — especially girls — that our scars don’t take away from our beauty, but add to it.

I’ve had two spinal fusion surgeries: one when I was 12 to stop the progression of my curvy spine, and one when I was 21 to fully straighten my spine. The second was a hard choice I made after years of chronic back pain. It changed my life.

It wasn’t always easy (actually, it was never easy). I missed some school and lived in a fog of painkillers while I recovered. I had to relearn how to do mundane things, like putting on my shoes, without bending over. I lived in fear of slipping and falling, imagined my back ripping open at the fresh stitches if I didn’t stay perfectly still.

But now I can say it was all worth it. My scar tells the story of how I overcame all of that and grew 2 inches taller and became a stronger person.

Eugenie’s scar tells her story, and, I hope, gives strength to young people who are just learning how to deal with their weird spines.

* * *

If you want to read more about scoliosis, Braced by Alyssa Gerber is a wonderful middle grade book about a girl who loves to play soccer and suddenly has to wear a cumbersome turtle shell while she goes through the rest of the normal things in a seventh-grader’s life.

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