Ever since I was little, I’ve always been told to stand up straight because I had a horrible posture but I couldn’t help it. I never even noticed that I was slouching most of the time. At 12 years old, I started experiencing horrible and unbearable back pains. My family doctor referred me to an orthopedic since she noticed I had a hump on my back. I got an X-ray and was diagnosed with scoliosis. The doctor advised me to wear a back brace. I was so young and naive that I couldn’t quite understand what was going on. I remember feeling excited for what this “back brace” would look like.
The first day I started to wear it was tremendously uncomfortable that I felt like I couldn’t breathe. However, I persevered because I was so scared my curve might worsen. From that time on, my life changed. I wore my brace everyday for 23 hours and would only get relief when I took a bath. My days were filled with discomfort, pain and negative thoughts. When I entered high school, I felt extremely insecure. I was the only one wearing a back brace out of the thousands of students on campus. I felt so different. I am grateful that most of my classmates were understanding and kind, but there were occasional insults and jokes thrown at my way that pierced my heart but I kept the matter in mind and laughed it off.
At 16, I started to raise awareness online through my Facebook account. A friend noticed and told me that it seems I am doing it for attention. She told me that scoliosis is not such a big deal and I am just overreacting. Those words made an impact on me so I decided to keep silent for years. I’d occasionally bring up the topic when needed but never got to the heart of the matter. I didn’t want to talk about it. I silently struggled with low self-esteem, that I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror and I got so uncomfortable whenever someone touched my back. As I grew older, I realized how I made such a huge mistake of letting one comment silence me and suppress my feelings. Scoliosis is a big deal. It affects our body, our lungs, our self-image and how we function in our everyday life. During my college years, I decided to accept my body. I prayed, I exercised and just plainly accepted the fact that I had scoliosis. Sometimes it’s hard and I still get insecure, but seeing fellow scoliosis warriors share their stories and photos of their back inspires me. Scoliosis is more than just a curve. It’s more than just a physical condition. Scoliosis can affect us mentally and emotionally as well. Dealing with scoliosis is an everyday challenge but we are stronger than scoliosis. We may be bent but we are never broken. We will keep raising awareness to help others.