Fight Club / Writing

Exercising My Scoliosis Demons

Pain pulses through the left side of my body charging across the point where my spine twists around then curves to the left shooting a sharp pinch into my shoulder blade muscles and pulling on my neck muscles where the dull pulse pounds.

Looking and listening to water or a steady breeze calms the ache and so does lying down on hot cement.

My medicine lately… Juicing apples, spinach, beets, and ginger. They help heal the daily episodes.

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Tea, chamomile, deceives the pain.

Chiropractors and massages keep it under control.

And exercise laughs at my pain. I sometimes exercise for hours because the heat that generates through my body wipes out the signal somehow.

The next day my muscles ache but my body celebrates with stretched grins and power. It’s always worth it though.

But, if I miss a day, the pain taunts me. Pulsing.

I’ve done everything I can to run from it, especially to hide it. I know how to wear clothes specifically so that it’s hard to see the curve. A purse placed just right helps shield me from people.

But, doctors never fail to wince when they check my spine. It’s clearly painful to them and they sympathize with clenched teeth.

Diagnosis Scoliosis

Finding out that you have scoliosis right when you’re beginning middle school tries your soul. It buries you under a billion painful emotions pointing you to a closet to hide in. You fold up inside yourself and learn to never let anyone touch you again.

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When I was eleven years old, I had to bend over as if touching my toes while a woman ran something that felt like metal down my spine. About a week or two later, my mother told me I had scoliosis.

About a month later, I was being covered in wet bandages, plastered. At a time when I was already insecure about my changing body, doctors inspected me and told me I had to wear a brace or undergo spinal surgery because the curvature was 20 degrees and getting worse.

Then, I was told to quit all my sports, even running.

No more gymnastics and no running.

I could walk, not run.

I just stood there, feeling like a spineless creature wrapped in a shell. I felt spineless because my spine had taken me over and was controlling everything I was and everything that mattered to me.

So, I decided to make friends with it even though I hated it. Besides therapy exercises, the doctors told me I could dance.

I was allowed to dance.

Fine.

Dance it would be.

I danced for an hour a day and adhered to my therapeutic exercise plan in between. It was the only time of day I was free of my brace so I pushed right over the limit. I forced my spine toward its opposite, yelling and screaming at it with each move.

But, it never disappeared. It just hung around. Bullying me.

Pleading with the Pain

Now that I’m older, I don’t fight it as much as plead with it.

Now, I still hate my spine, not with the same bitterness, but with a tired feeling of self worth, talking to it, telling it I really deserve to live like a normal person, I’ve earned this.

It doesn’t listen. It laughs a scornful laugh.

But, exercise laughs back. It turns up the heat and beats it. Exercise sometimes even soothes it, pretending to be my spine’s friend.

I jog, sometimes sprint, then walk, teasing my spine, putting pressure on it to release the pain. It does. It goes. It leaves.

Yet, I know I can’t do what I used to so I ease away.

I have an exercise ball that I lie on, bobbing, releasing tension. If that doesn’t work, there’s the zero gravity chair.

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Afterward, an arsenal of tea helps center me.

And, I know, it will be back so I cat stretch.

I swim. I ice it.

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I start all over again.

I exercise my scoliosis demons.

Written by Lisa Chesser for the DP Challenge

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18 thoughts on “Exercising My Scoliosis Demons

  1. Well written snapshots of the day in the life of..I have a co -worker who also has scoliosis and I never realized she would be in pain such as this..Her smile and happy attitude would fool even Mother Teresa..
    Thanks so the inside look..now I understand more!

    • Fooling Mother Teresa…I couldn’t but I can fool some. I adjust myself a lot, physically and mentally. I tell myself stand up straight, have confidence, so I do then my neck cracks and my back does one of those bizarre peals of popping and I’m good.

  2. As Free Penny has stated, your piece is well written; I can almost feel your thoughts and feel the pain and angst that you’re going through with your back condition. I was also diagnosed with Scoliosis when I was in high school but my curvature is not as severe as yours. It’s barely noticeable visually but when someone runs their third and fourth fingers down the length of my spine, they can feel the gentle curvature that my upper spine has towards the left before it corrects itself straight down past my kidneys. When I wear my bikini and if people look really closely, they’ll notice that my left rib sticks out a little bit more than my right one. It’s something I was conscious of when I was younger but now, I don’t even give it any thought. I always just thank God that my Scoliosis was a condition that didn’t impede my physical activities and my bodily movements. I learned to live with it, just as you have learned to live with yours. I loved how you said you’re sometimes “friendly” with it lol and then other times you hate it – kind of like a love/hate relationship. Good post. ~

    • I can usually hide it but it’s a constant battle when I’m trying on clothes. What’s really funny is my husband said he hadn’t realized I even had it until he massaged my back and felt the muscles knotted up.
      Thanks for reading and I’m happy you didn’t have it like this. Learning to live with pain teaches you a lot and bonds you with others who deal with the same.

  3. My heart goes out to you for your struggle, but you are definitely a trooper! I can see that right away. You have a tenacious spirit, and that makes you the victor in this case. Love the writing…you really made the reader experience (as much as possible) what you go through. Well said. Hope you are feeling better today!

  4. What an emotionally (and physically) painful story you’ve painted so beautifully here. I am sorry that you have to go through so much on a daily basis and that you have for so many years.

    • Thank you for continuing to read through all of it. I really have learned to almost talk to it and to myself. Writing this helped solidify my feelings about it too. I really appreciate knowing that you care.

  5. Thanks for stopping in and liking my own post on chronic pain. I respect those doctors that at least honoured all the pain that you are living with. It is so obvious to me from all I have read on your blog here, that you are someone who simply gets on with living your life, as well as you can. I am sorry that you must deal with such pain on a daily basis. Warm hug. Love that forever read pledge! Now following you- your interesting spirit and zest for life.

  6. My curvature is not near as severe but has always been. You have provided additional ideas. Due to my other problems I have limitations that like you I work through and around, I am going to try some of your ideas for them as well. Have you considered Accupuncture? This is my lifesaver!

    Your piece is wonderfully done, living with chronic pain is never easy. Finding a way to do so with grace takes strength and will.

  7. I, too, have scoliosis, so I understand your pain and struggle to stay physically fit and keep the pain at bay. Like you, I go to the chiropractor and a massage therapist, and try to stay active. Keep fighting the demons, keep exercising.

  8. Pingback: Expression and the Art of Letting Go | The Seeker's Dungeon

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