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.

ICYMI: I was hilarious last week

I spent my long holiday weekend being sick.

everything-hurts-and-im-dying

And during this stupid cold, I produced some of my best tweety material, and feel it did not get the love it deserved. So, here it is. In all its snotty, Pseudoephedrine-induced, sometimes-tweeted-while-sleeping glory.

https://twitter.com/alholstrom/status/772169396798230528

Thank you, thank you. I’ll be here all week.

Puzzled

I’ve started this post so many times, so many ways, over the last ten months. It always goes a little something like this: I haven’t felt like myself in a while. Or I just don’t feel like myself these days. Or Something is wrong with my soul, and I can’t put my finger on it. 

All the things I love, the things that are so deeply rooted in my existence, the things that are so inherently Ashley, were thrown to the wayside. Books, music, Internet, peacefulness. I’ve been replaced by some anxiety-ridden monster who can’t find a book worth reading, hates everything played on the radio, rolls her eyes at everyone on the Internet, lets her work frustrations carry over into her personal life.

Those pieces have come together slowly over the last few months. Or rather, they made themselves known. They’re waiting for my cue to come back to form the completed puzzle of me, ready to be framed.

I have a mountain of in-progress reads on my desk, but looking at them feels like spotting an old boyfriend on the other side of a restaurant. Anxiety. Looking away. Hoping they didn’t notice the looking-at and looking-away. A little sick feeling in my stomach. Guilt. My GoodReads yearly book challenge even scowled at me for being six books behind schedule to meet my goal of 50 books. I’ve started plenty of books that I’ve given up on  for now, hoping to be enthralled by them later. When things make more sense.

Music has become just background noise to keep me from sitting in silence. I don’t find things that stick to me, make me yell, push me to turn the volume way, way up. One night at the bar after work, my boss asked for a request for the jukebox. I couldn’t think of anything beyond, “Uh, ‘Paradise City,’ I guess.” He gaped at me, thinking I was more hip to the jams than I actually am. The group discussed summer festivals, and none of them seemed appealing because of how little I’m aware of current music. I didn’t even know that Iggy Azalea song that’s been permeating the airwaves. I know.

The good news is that all it took was a little recklessness to figure it out. I took a weekend off work to drive down to my college town, not to relive my glory days, but to see the two friends who made my last semester of school less lonely and more peaceful. We went for walks around the tiny, adorable town and talked about our loves and our lives and the love in our lives. We made our way to the tattoo shop, where we’ve gone together too many times, got silly piercings, and carried on our merry ways.

The pieces are coming together. I spent a year try, try, trying to be something I wasn’t — a mature “adult.” I desperately wished to gain approval for those fruitless attempts. It was silly. A waste of time. But now that I’ve spotted the flaw, I think I can move beyond it. I’m close to finishing a book, I found some new bands I like, and I’m getting comfortable being in my own skin again.

Here’s to good books and fabulous music and happy summer fun-times. And middle fingers to all the haters.~

Up, Up, and Away

I’m a little late to the game, but I had one of those great shower epiphanies and decided to participate in One Word 365. You pick a word to focus on that sums up what you want to do, who you want to be, for one year.

My word? Up. Growing up, moving up, switching it up. Keeping my head up.

Continue reading “Up, Up, and Away”