“When I got the hard brace, I was entering my preteen/teen years, and I was insecure already. I felt like the brace was yet another imperfection on my body, reminding me of my crooked spine. Maybe I thought it was some sort of punishment for something i should have prevented…but couldn’t. It was difficult…the battle with yourself and with your body, when you know you have to do something but at the same time you really, really don’t want to care. I just wished it wouldn’t have happened to me at all.
I didn’t like the brace because it really was awkward fitting. It’s a stiff plastic device that tightens around your rib cage to your hips. Bending is out of the question, and the first couple of days my ribs were sore. I couldn’t really walk in it- since it was around my hips limiting mobility, so over time I wore it less and less- refusing very harshly to not wear it to school. That was my absolute biggest fear, that people would see it. Not taunt me- just in their minds think “what’s wrong with her..” or talk to their friends about me. It was a fear in the back of my head where i imagined possibilities that i thought could happen. I remember in around May of last year I went to my doctor, (who is the father of now my best friend 😀) and I had not been wearing the death trap as much as i should have at all. After the x-rays, I had gotten worse. A lot worse. I was angry and disappointed…but mostly afraid. My fear was realized when my parents forced my to wear it to school on that friday afternoon and I was filled with hate at myself. I almost never cry- that day i cried a lot..a lot. I’m so lucky all my friends helped me though- at school they stayed by my side to make sure people wouldn’t see me, so i could stay kind of hidden…but after school i still had tennis. I had to take my brace off in front of my classmates during gym too. People didn’t really mind which surprised me, a good side to it all.
A couple of days after, my dad said he found a doctor in New York that had a new kind of brace that you couldn’t see as much as the hard one under clothes and was mostly straps. I was so excited! We got to my favorite city with promise. The doctor was weird…i didn’t feel really secure with him. The soft brace was really complicated, and involved a sort of shorts I had to put on under my pants- which required buying bigger pants. The straps involved bending, twisting, readjusting- never really felt like they were doing anything either. After, i found that they did not help at all. And going to the bathroom was one of the more complicated things! Haha I can remember the first day with it- me and my mother went to see the Phantom of the Opera on broadway, me in the bathroom stalls trying to make as little noise as possible with the multiple velcro straps. Also- i always had to wear a t-shirt, and another shirt under the brace. It was a hot summer…I think I hate that brace more than the hard brace. Man…it was horrible…the worst was explaining to people what the heck was wrong with me. At school- I had to program my every class and time so i could figure out a time to go to the bathroom, take off the brace, stick it in my backpack, and go to the bathroom before the 3 hours of tennis in the afternoon. I would barely have time to eat lunch because the only available time to go to a deserted bathroom on the 3rd floor was during 30 minutes of lunch.
Schroth…was wonderful to find. A godsend (is that the expression?) yeah I expected doctors that would visit me for 5 minutes but make me wait for 30. Maybe some machines to stretch me out- because my back was getting worse and I got shorter. When i started it, it was so weird! The entire time i thought i needed something around me to push me into place, never thought my own muscles could do it, or that i was capable of such a thing..It felt good. Right away Dr. Marc was like hands on, this this and this is what WE’RE going to do to prevent surgery. (That was another fear- 50 degrees was the no turning back point) I could breathe and fix myself…like old natural remedies kind of, haha. I did it everyday at home, this time I could feel myself getting better, it was surreal (I love that word…someone just pointed out to me that this email is getting a bit long, it’s okay though because I like this) and then Dr. Marc tells me I’m one of his best patients, after a while he claims that i am number 1. : ) I’m a straight A student, never gotten a B to this day (well except one time in his office) but not in school, so that was good news! After improvement, it was like a turning point. I could rule this thing and it determined me to. It was a rush of amazing feeling…I finally knew how my back worked and I knew what I could do to fix it, thanks to Dr. Marc. What’s that other expression…information is power? i think i saw that on an episode of The Office today. It’s true, i could do it, and I still am trying to improve more and more. Now I’m aware of how I sit, and sleeping on my right side is non existent. Long term now…I feel like i can keep improving more and more. I have all the time I need! There’s been some sacrifices, but now it’s all worth it, because I can be grateful for Schroth much more than if I had never endured the 2 braces, the embarrassment, the trips to New York, the 10 minute bathroom trips at school to take off the braces, the awkward way i walked with them, the pinching of my hips whenever i sat with the hard brace…the marks the braces would leave on our sofas. It’s all gone, now I can focus on my body and my muscles, my back and my spine. It’s never felt better. I want to thank a lot of people for helping me…but mostly Dr. Marc for being so supportive…and just the most helpful and best caring doctor I have ever had. I don’t know what i would have gone through or done if i hadn’t gone to him. But there’s still work to be done! :)”