By Nicole Santos
I sat on the patient’s bed, motionless. The only sounds echoing through the room besides my unsteady breathing were the tick of the clock and my doctor explaining my current condition. My eyes were locked on my mother’s face, searching for explanations as to why this had happened to me.
I was at the Novato Community Hospital receiving a regularly scheduled check-up. My weight and height were normal for a 15-year-old. Blood pressure checked. Everything appeared to be going smoothly.
One of the last procedures was the Adam’s test. This test had been given in elementary and junior high school so the directions were recognizable: Stand up straight, feet together, then bend forward at the hips with arms loosely extended.
“Hmmmm,” my doctor muttered phrases like this as she checked the alignment of my spine. When she was finished she began ferociously writing on her clipboard. My mother and I stared at each other; we were both wondering what had caused the dilemma. At last she detached the metal stethoscope hanging limp around her neck and placed it gently on the hollow counter-top.
“You seem to have scoliosis in your spine; there is a slight curve towards the top. Luckily we caught it sooner rather than later.”
You can imagine that was not the diagnosis I was hoping for.
“How bad is the curve?”
That question, among the many others lingering in my mind, rushed out first. I could not and did not want to accept the fact that my spine was curved. No one in my family history has ever had scoliosis.
While fear and questioning were apparent on my face, my doctor provided us with the numbers needed to contact the two specialists who would become my best friends. Dr. Drew Hittenberger a prosthetic specialist and Dr. Grey a spinal specialist.
I kept thinking to myself, “Wow, first glasses, two years of braces and retainers, a spider-bite that will forever be engraved upon my skin, and now this.”
After one visit with Dr. Grey I finally understood the seriousness of my condition. I had to get x-rays of my spine for him to evaluate. As he placed the x-rays on the luminous white examination board, my jaw dropped. I could not believe my eyes. My spine was really contorted. Thankfully the scoliosis was found early while the curves did not appear as severe as they could be. Looking at my own spine, I realized I had to maintain an open mind about this situation and take all necessary precautions to reduce the curves.
I was advised to do upper body workouts and sports which require physical movement from the torso up. Also, Dr. Grey recommended I see a specialist who could create a brace for me to wear to decrease the curves. I did not want to continue my high school years trapped in a brace every single day.
Nevertheless, I grew up. I threw aside my constant complaining about having to get x-rays every three to four months, my constant complaining about having to wear the brace because it was uncomfortable, and my constant complaining to why this had happened to me.
Instead of wasting time moaning about what had happened, I grew to appreciate the fact that it was targeted sooner rather than later.
I do daily exercises and take two hip-hop classes and one jazz class each week in hopes of reducing the curvature.
The scoliosis will never go away. I will always have abnormal lateral curvature; but I can prevent it from becoming increasingly worse by wearing my brace at night, maintaining x-ray appointments, and visiting the specialists willing to help me. Having been diagnosed with scoliosis, I have learned to accept the unexpected rather than question why things occur. I have learned to deal with the outcome.