Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Karen Malena, author of "Son of Mine" Guest Post


Recently I was talking with an old friend about her daughter. She was thanking me for being there for her when her daughter was going through spinal surgery for scoliosis. She mentioned that someone should write a blog, sharing their experience with curvature of the spine to help others who may be going through this trauma.
You see, when I was about twelve years old, I noticed something about myself in the mirror. When a young girl should begin to develop curves, I was developing lumps. Something was distinctly wrong with the image looking back at me.
My pants were fitting funny, my back was aching. It wasn't until my poor mother was scratching my back one day, and noticed something very wrong with me, did we even know there was something to be truly concerned about.
All I could do was panic and cry when mom said we should call for a doctor appointment. I think I had been fooling myself that something would change.
I asked Mom what she thought we would find out when we saw the doctor. Did she think they had to do some type of surgery on me? She assured me, no, there was probably nothing like that which I would have to go through.
Was she wrong! We sat in a specialists office with a doctor who had no bedside manner whatsoever. He blurted out that I had scoliosis, would need a spinal fusion, which was major surgery, and would be in a body cast for almost a year. Surgery was quickly scheduled.
In June of my twelfth year, I found myself in Children's Hospital, amidst young people with so many scary looking contraptions, some wheelchair bound, some who would never walk again. I was to count myself fortunate this was all I had.
There were various tortures to endure, the main one, a plaster body cast encasing my whole torso, the back of my head and up the front to my neck. This was placed on before surgery. It would be cut before the spinal fusion, then a new one would be fabricated afterward.
We all learned to communicate on our hospital ward with pen and paper. My parents were the couriers who brought the notes back and forth to all of us children going through many different surgeries, as we couldn't get out of our hospital beds.
I was in the hospital for three weeks. My parents were so very strong for me at that time. I would never know how hard it was for them, seeing their little girl with tubes and wires, a huge plaster contraption encompassing me. But they were my saviors, and strength. The cards and letters that family members and friends sent, were encouragement to me. Books became my best friend at that time.
It was not easy at first but after leaving the hospital, adapting to a new style of life in a body cast soon became second nature to me. I had to be tutored at home, since school was going to be difficult.
I didn't like feeling so different from other girls I was seeing. They were beautiful, curvy, free from the confines of a plaster prison. I felt like some sort of freak show whenever I would go anywhere with my parents, as people always stared at the huge contraption I was wearing. I think the only place I felt normal, was at the hospital, or doctor's office for the many xrays they had to take.
A smaller cast was placed on me after about eight months, and it was strange having my neck free to move about once again. Something I had taken for granted before, but it all felt so free! I could move again!
The hardest part is being a young teenager when you are going through something like this. Feeling like an alien, or feeling like an outcast. But know there is light at the end of the tunnel, and it is all worthwhile. Our bodies are free from severe deformity. Something people in the past weren't even able to go through. Have you ever seen a misshapen little old woman and known that could have been you? Let's thank the Lord above that there are surgeons out there, good surgeons who do their jobs well.
Let's all be a light for one another, and pass our stories along to help the next person possibly going through the trauma of spinal surgery.

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