photography by Andi Schreiber
When I was 8 years old, I was crowned the "limbo champ" at my summer camp. That same year, I was also diagnosed with scoliosis. Apparently, my spine was bending in every direction - front, back, side to side.
+Diagnosis and Bracing
Like most children who receive a scoliosis diagnosis, I had no pain. It was picked up during a routine screening at the pediatrician. There is a history of scoliosis in my family, so while juvenile idiopathic scoliosis is less common than adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, it wasn’t much of a surprise.
By age 10, my “S curve” had progressed and I was braced. The brace was a hard plastic shell in two pieces, connected by 3 vertical metal bars - a thick one in the front and two thinner ones in the back. It spanned from my armpits to my pelvis. It was just as awful as it sounds, yet I was diligent in wearing it - for 23 hours a day, for four years. I don’t think many children love those preteen years, but they are definitely not improved by wearing a metal and plastic shell around a growing, changing and scrutinized preteen body. It was hot and sticky in the humid Houston heat. All of my clothes had holes in them where I rubbed the metal bar running down the front of the brace against my school desk. I went to a school where we wore a formal uniform with a blazer on Mondays. Unlike most of my classmates, I preferred Mondays because the blazer hid my brace better than the white polo shirts we wore the rest of the week. A seventh grade boy who sat behind me in orchestra amused himself by tapping on the bars of my brace with his viola bow. Those were not the best years of my life. I was shy. The brace, in a way, allowed me to hide. I literally never came out of my shell.
Read more on Jen's Blog HERE