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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Afterward, an arsenal of tea helps center me.
And, I know, it will be back so I cat stretch.
I swim. I ice it.
I start all over again.
I exercise my scoliosis demons.
Written by Lisa Chesser for the DP Challenge